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Family’s Holiday Surprise: Return Of Long-Lost ‘Mr. Moe’

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The Barbarites – Peggy, Brandon, Brianna and Al – with their long-lost beagle, Mr. Moe.


A township family received a huge helping of holiday cheer right before Thanksgiving when they were reunited with a family pet who had been missing for nearly six years.

The delayed homecoming of Mr. Moe, the family’s rescued beagle, came about after officials at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown picked him up as a stray and checked the dog’s microchip, which led to a series of more calls before the family was found.

Mr. Moe was rescued by Al and Peggy Barbarite 13 years ago. In February of 2011, on what Peggy Barbarite recalls as being a cold, sleety day, Moe wandered away from home and disappeared.

“I came home about 3 p.m., and my husband and kids were here, and I noticed that Moe wasn’t here,” she said. “And I said, where’s Moe? And my husband said he was just here. We looked for him everywhere, but no Moe.”

“It broke our hearts,” she said. “We looked everywhere. We called our vet. There was just no trace of him.”

“We thought someone would check his microchip, but nothing,” she said.

“We put fliers up all over the place,” Al Barbarite said. “I used to take my bicycle out in the woods first thing in the mornings, and yell, ‘Moe! Moe!'”

The family mourned, and then moved on, Peggy Barbarite said. They returned to the organization through which they rescued Moe, SOS Beagle Rescue, and adopted another dog.

But Mr. Moe was always in their thoughts.

“When the kids went to bed, we would always pray for him,” Peggy Barbarite said. “It was a ‘If Mr. Moe’s out there, I hope he’s with a good family’ kind of thing.”

This is where the Monmouth County SPCA comes in. In the early morning hours of Nov. 20, Moe was picked up on Holmdel Road in Hazlet by an animal control officer, said the SPCA’s Lt. Tom Nuccio.

They scanned the microchip, he said, and contacted SOS Beagle rescue, which then called Al Barbarite’s father, who was listed as a secondary contact.

“My father called me and said they found Moe,” Al Barbarite said. “I said, there’s no way!”

“So I called down there and they said we have him,” he said.

Nuccio said there is normally a 7-day holding period when a stray pet is found but, he said, given Moe’s age – he’s 14 – they felt it would be better to let him go home with the Barbarites.

But that didn’t come without some convincing.

Peggy Barbarite said that she enlisted the help of the SOS Beagle organization, as well as from Katie Nordhaus, the Franklin Township Animal Control Officer.

… he kissed me and hugged me and put his head right in my coat. And they said, I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t take him today.

“It’s the holiday week,” she said. “I didn’t want to wait the seven days. He’s our dog, get him home.”

Barbarite said she decided to would go down to Tinton Falls and speak to officials there personally. First, though, she stopped off at the local police department to get their help.

A police officer called the SPCA, but there was nothing the police could do. So Barbarite made her way to the shelter.

She told a supervisor the story, and then asked to see Moe, she said.

When he was brought out, she, said, she got on the floor and called him.

“He kinda walked around, I put my hands out for him to smell me, I’m emotional, of course,” she said. “He came over, I was calling him, he kissed me and hugged me and put his head right in my coat. And they said, I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t take him today.”

Peggy Barbarite loaded Moe into her car and then drove to her children’s school, where she told them that their pet was back.

“I wasn’t sure how to feel,” 12-year-old Brianna Barbarite said. “I was confused because I wasn’t sure it was absolutely him, he looked so different. But I’m happy.”

“I was happy that he was back, but also a little confused,” 10-year-old Brandon Barbarite said. “It was crazy that he was gone for six years and he’s back. It feels good.”

Al Barbarite’s reunion with Mr. Moe was emotional as well.

“The dog was crying, he was crying, it was beautiful,” Peggy Barbarite said.

“He was already out of my mind, we’d moved on, and all of a sudden he’s back,” Al Barbarite said. “It was crazy, I just couldn’t believe he was back.”

After they got him home, Moe was proclaimed in good health by his vet.

“He was hungry and thirsty,” Peggy Barbarite said. “They thought he’d been out for a while, but they didn’t know how long.”

“When he came home, he sniffed every corner in the house,” she said. “Now he’s leaving his mark on every single tree in the yard.”

He may have been gone, but Mr. Moe was never forgotten, she said.

“We still had his picture up on the wall,” she said.

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Copyright 2016 The Franklin Reporter & Advocate
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