WALDEN, New York (WABC) -- An adorable Lab-mix that escaped an animal hospital in Ulster County in 2016 was found safe in the woods in Orange County on Monday.
Bandit escaped from the Gardiner Animal Hospital in Gardner, NY back on October 8, 2016. Despite the tireless efforts of the family to find their pup, Bandit had all but disappeared.
It wasn't until nearly a year and a half later on February 8, 2018 that a local resident, Tab Calvitti was driving and spotted a black dog on the edge of the woods near a busy road in Walden, NY.
Calvitti stopped and went into the woods to look for the dog, but the pup had bolted back into the woods and vanished.
Calvitti contacted Buddha Dog Rescue and Recovery on March 20, 2018, who immediately headed to Walden to begin the capture of the elusive pup.
The woods in which the dog was spotted backed up directly to the Wallkill Rail Trail. Luckily for Bandit, the 27 mile long trail was filled with animal carcasses, a perfect food source for a lost dog and a likely reason the pup remained in the area for a year and a half.
Bandit was found safe in the woods in Orange County on April 2.
It took the rescue team five days, one trap and two different types of enclosures to lure the three-and-a-half year-old Bandit to safety, but the team said each bit of progress no matter how small was a celebration.
Once Bandit was captured, the team called the family, whose first words out of their mouths were "omg he's alive!"
While the family was surprised and relieved that Bandit was found, they felt the pup would be in better hands with someone who had a fenced in yard and could devote the necessary time to work with him.
During Bandit's year and a half journey living in the woods, the pup had traveled 9.5 miles from the Gardner Animal Hospital to the Wallkill Rail Trail where he was rescued.
It will take a lot of time and training for Bandit to learn what it's like to live in a home again, but wherever this pup ends up, there will be plenty of love.
Bandit is currently recovering at Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge.
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Long lost pup found in NY woods after missing for year and a half