California man reunited with beloved dog that went missing during New York City visit

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A man from California was reunited with his 9-year-old lab mix after he went missing during a trip to New York City this spring.

Buddy Babb was laid off from his job in early 2021 and decided to visit his son in Utah. He took along his dogs - 9-year-old Mulligan and a 2-month-old puppy named Espy.

After his car broke down a couple weeks later in Utah, Buddy and his dogs boarded a bus to NYC to stay with friends.

On May 17, Buddy's friends were walking the dogs when a car backfired and scared Mulligan. He broke free from his leash and bolted.

Espy also broke free and chased after Mulligan. Despite searching for weeks, Buddy and his friends couldn't find either dog.

Buddy was eventually called back to work in July and boarded a bus back to California - heartbroken and alone.

On Aug. 13, Buddy noticed a photo of a dog named Rip Van Winkle on the ASPCA's website who looked just like Mulligan.

It turns out Mulligan was taken to Animal Care Centers of NYC as a stray and on June 9, he was taken to the ASPCA Adoption Center on the Upper East side.

On Aug. 17, Buddy's friend confirmed he was actually Mulligan and the dog was sent to live with a foster mom until the two could be reunited.

The ASPCA debated flying Mulligan home, but ultimately decided a ground journey would be more beneficial to him.

"It is unique that we did transport him on a 2,600-mile cross-country journey," said Eileen Hanavan with the ASPCA.

They set out on Oct. 3 for the cross-country journey and after several stops, Mulligan arrived on Buddy's doorstep.

At first Mulligan froze, but as soon as he heard Buddy's voice, he wagged his tail and jumped into Buddy's arms.

"Mulligan's highlights how anything can happen," Hanavan said. "Buddy, his owner, went to great lengths to find him and try to locate him."

Buddy is grateful they went above and beyond. But now he is hoping for two miracles and that someone will find Espy.

"Hopefully somebody will be like I found that dog, maybe I should give him back, or give her back," he said. "The story's not done yet."

ALSO READ | Chickens on way to slaughterhouse given 2nd chance after falling off truck
EMBED More News Videos

Every chicken was examined and a few of the birds are being treated for broken feet and torn nails.

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New York City news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.