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Golden Retriever Missing for 16 Days Found Swimming Along the Jersey Shore, Rescued by State Police

 As they were preparing for their shift Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., New Jersey State Police Troopers Ryan Koehler and Vincent Ferdinandi received an unusual call: a golden retriever was spotted swimming in Barnegat Bay on the Jersey Shore and needed rescuing

Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., New Jersey State Police Troopers Ryan Koehler and Vincent Ferdinandi received an unexpected call: a golden retriever had been sighted swimming in Barnegat Bay on the Jersey Shore and needed to be rescued.



According to Ferdinandi, the officers hopped into a 22-foot Zodiac boat to motor to the dog, which was about 75 yards from shore. They gently guided the pup to land and lifted him onto a pier behind a house using a rope line.

"He was quite exhausted," Ferdinandi says. "Unquestionably malnourished and hungry."

With good reason. Chunk, 3, was playing fetch with owners Marie and James Zangara on June 6 when he allegedly became scared and ran off into the woods, according to Ferdinandi.



Since Chunk went missing from his house on Sunday, a search campaign combining social media, local police departments, baited traps, dog hunters, and trail cameras has been underway, according to the trooper.

Then, early Tuesday morning, two joggers on the Mantoloking Bridge noticed Chunk; but, when they attempted to grab him, he jumped into the water, according to Ferdinandi. He'd swum over two kilometers across the water by the time he was rescued.



Chunk appeared terrified of the troopers as they arrived on land, according to Ferdinandi, "he kind of backed away from us." However, until the dog's family came, the couple held Chunk safely by their sides.

"It was incredible to watch the sigh of relief that a part of their family was back, and the dog was pleased to see his family as well," Ferdinandi says.


Koehler, a trooper for 16 years, owns a rescue Lab/shepherd mix and understands how upsetting it would be to have a dog go missing for up to two weeks. "I completely understand," he says.

"We're just delighted that both the dog and the owners can be reunited," Ferdinandi adds.


The New Jersey State Police posted the good news on their Facebook page early Tuesday, in a post that has been shared over 6,000 times.

 


"Troopers Koehler and Ferdinandi responded in a motorboat and discovered Chunk, who was swimming near the Mantoloking Bridge, and were able to bring him safely to shore," the State Police said on Facebook.

 

"Chunk, a three-year-old boy, has been gone for more than two weeks," the article adds. "It goes without saying that he was overjoyed to be reunited with his thankful owners."

 

PEOPLE was unable to contact Chunk's owners right away.


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