A bittersweet moment in the midst of tragedy, as a Lancaster man who lost his sister and niece in a gut-wrenching fire, is reunited with his sister’s dog on Thursday morning.
The Stone family had been looking for the dog, named Bella, since the fire on Monday morning.
“Come here girlie! That’s her! That’s her!” said William Stone, Jr. after seeing Bella for the first time in three long, difficult days.
The man and dog, two survivors of a tragic house fire, two survivors who desperately needed each other.
The overwhelming sadness in the dog’s eyes mimicking the same in the man’s eyes.
“She knows, she knows she lost her mommy,” Stone said.
The fire killed Stone’s sister Pauline Stone and Leilani Roman,6, a little girl the Stones loved and considered their niece.
Monday morning, as the fire raged, was the last time anyone saw Bella.
“She was going to go back in, but I caught her,” Stone said. “She followed me back out, then we couldn’t find her. But I had to find her.”
Lancaster County SPCA Founder Susan Martin was hoping for a miracle.
Family members had called the shelter every day since the fire, looking for the dog.
They even gave Martin a picture, so she could identify Bella if she was brought in.
“The first thing I said is before it even got out of the car was, ‘I know the dog! That’s the dog from the fire!’” Martin said.
Lancaster Police Officer Juanita Martinez-Bender had no idea what precious cargo she was carrying when she picked Bella up on a stray dog call and dropped her off at the SPCA.
“It just brings joy to you. Knowing that you can, that you participated in giving someone back something that was lost and it makes you feel good,” she said.
“That’s why we’re here,” said Martin. “We don’t just take stray dogs. We’re also here to reunite dogs with their owners.”
No one on this earth is more grateful for that than William Stone.
“I lost my niece, she’s an angel,” he said. “I lost my sister. At least I’ve got something that belongs to her.”
When Ofc. Martinez-Bender found her, Bella had a cut on her body and had to be checked out by a vet.
She is expected to be okay and the Lancaster County SPCA is covering her medical bills.