Despite initial excitement, a family in Livingston County now says the dogs that were sent to them from Georgia are not their long lost pets.
Marley and Forest, a Lab-Husky mix, went missing during a snowstorm in 2013. Their owners searched everywhere for the pups, but had no luck finding them.
"They didn't mean to run off," said Anie Smith, the dogs' owner. "The snow fell too fast, they did not have leashes on and I could not catch up with them."
The weekend after Thanksgiving, the family received word through a Facebook page they created to help find Marley and Forest that the dogs had been found some 920 miles from their home.
"I had a message and it was a picture of two dogs," said Smith. "It said they were at a vet clinic in Georgia, 920 miles from home."
Smith arranged for the dogs to be brought home. But upon arrival, Smith noticed the dogs were much different than the day they went missing.
"They're not in good shape," Smith told 7 Eyewitness News. "They're thin, their hair is no longer soft, like the day they went missing. Their hair is falling out. You can see every rib on their body. You can see their backbones."
One of the dogs had a large gash on his back that needed surgery. The other lost its tail.
The family was at first just grateful and happy their dogs were home, and felt the changes they noticed were a part of the pain the animals endured over the course of their near two-year long absence.
But upon further inspection and consultation with their veterinarian, the family now says they have doubts that the dogs they receive are the real Marley and Forest.
In a post on Facebook, they write, "We have some doubts whether these dogs are really Marley and Forest, but we are convinced that no matter what that these dogs need us and we need them to help heal theirs and our emotional wounds. We do not want to mislead the public and we would feel as though we were lying if we stayed silent and did not share our doubts. They will continue to get the medical and emotional attention they need. We will do our best to rehabilitate these poor boys and hopefully give them great joy in life."
The family went on to say they are not accepting donations for care of the dogs, and that anyone interested in helping should donate to their local shelter or rescue organization.