1:10 PM PDT, June 23, 2021
A 3-year-old golden retriever that had been missing for two weeks was rescued by New Jersey State Police Troopers and a few good Samaritans after they spotted the pup swimming in Barnegat Bay on the Jersey Shore.
“He was extremely tired,” said New Jersey State Trooper Vincent Ferdinandi. “Definitely malnourished, hungry.”
Chunk was about 75 yards from shore when Ferdinandi and Trooper Ryan Koehler jumped into a 22-foot Zodiac boat to motor to the dog and bring it back to safety, People reported.
“It’s a dream come true,” Marie Zangara told the Asbury Park Press. “It’s like a Hollywood movie, this ending. Because he was lost in the marsh for so long and then he winds up in the bay. He actually swam across the entire Barnegat Bay. Luckily he’s a strong dog and this worked out very nicely. ”
On June 6, Chunk was playing fetch with his owners, Marie and James Zangara, when he suddenly vanished.
Devastated the couple mobilized their own search efforts and also took to social media to try to find their dog. They also had the support from local police, who used baited traps, hound hunters and trail cameras, according to the troopers, People reported.
But days and then weeks continued to pass without any signs of Chunk.
Until Tuesday when two joggers near Trader’s Cove Marina recognized Chunk from the missing dog flyers. The good Samaritans tried to grab him, but he jumped into the water. The joggers then flagged down another good Samaritan who was fishing in the bay for help. The boater was unable to get Chunk on the boat but stayed with him until the state troopers arrived, the Asbury Park Press reported.
Once Chunk was back on land, Ferdinandi said he appeared fearful. That soon changed when his owners arrived.
Chunk and is owners weren’t the only ones elated by the reunion. When the state troopers posted the story on Facebook, the responses started pouring. The post was also shared more than 6,000 times.
“I’m crying!!” wrote one woman. “I don’t even know this family or dog but thank you for getting him back home and so glad he is safe. He has got to be exhausted and hungry.”
“So proud of my neighbor Trooper Ryan Koehler and Trooper Ferdinandi, who helped to save Chuck and return him safely to his family!” another wrote.
“Jersey in the house!! That’s Fantastic! Shouts out to the NJ State police You Rock! That pup is so lucky,” said another fan of Chunk.