After a case of mistaken identity and owner tug-of-war that had him caught in the middle of a sort of doggie custody battle, Rosco the Indiana dog is back home Wednesday with the family who raised him.
Rosco, a 3-year-old boxer, ran away from Kyla Robinson and her family last month when a tornado hit their Mellott, Indiana, house.
The home sustained $16,000 worth of damage and one of the family's cars was totaled: 2013 was turning out to be a tough year for Robinson and her clan. A few months earlier, their 16-year-old dog had died, and then -- in addition to the tornado destruction -- Rosco was missing.
"I figured he got scared, broke his chain and was gone for a couple days," Robinson's partner, Anthony Pritchard, told HLN affiliate WRTV. "But he didn't come back."
It turned out that Rosco had wandered 45 miles away from his home before someone picked him up and took him to the humane society in neighboring Clinton County.
With no collar or microchip, humane society workers couldn't track down Rosco's owners. They renamed him "Sebastian" and put him up for adoption.
Meanwhile back in Mellott, friends and family of Robinson, Pritchard and their daughter turned to social media for help.
They posted pictures of Rosco on Facebook in hopes that someone had seen the loveable dog. Workers at the humane society saw the picture and realized Rosco looked a lot like Sebastian. But by then, Rosco had already been adopted by a new family.
The humane society did all it could do at that point -- they contacted the new family and asked them to return Rosco. The agency says it is powerless to force people to return pets without the cooperation of the adoptive families.
"At first, [the new owner] was OK with it," Jim Tate with the Clinton County Humane Society told WRTV. "But then [she] came right out and said he's such a special dog she just couldn't bring him in."
The Robinson and Pritchard were angry and heartbroken. They worried about their 10-year-old daughter Madison, who has raised Rosco since he was a pup.
Many residents, alerted to Rosco's story in the local papers and on TV, agreed with his original family's outrage. "Unfortunately there's been... we've had some threats here at the humane society and things like that, and some really negative publicity," Tate told WRTV.
Finally, the new owner had a change of heart, he said. "She decided for all the parties involved -- as tough as it is -- it would be best for all involved ... to go ahead and bring [Rosco] back to them," Tate said.
Still, Madison's parents didn't want her to get her hopes up for Rosco's return, since the dog's new owner had changed her mind once before. But the family got Rosco back just in time for Christmas.
"Rosco is coming home tomorrow [Wednesday] for real this time. Madison, Anthony and I pick him up at 9:30 in the morning at [Frankfort] Humane Society," an overjoyed Kyla Robinson posted on her Facebook page. The mother quickly posted pictures of an emotional Madison hugging her dog for the first time in more than a month.