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Missing Maltese Dog Returns To Michigan Home After Fatal Crash

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MISSING MALTESE
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TUCUMCARI, N.M (AP) -- A Maltese dog named Caesar who disappeared more than a year ago after a car crash that killed two members of its owning family in eastern New Mexico is on his way home to Michigan.

The Quay County Sun reports Wednesday ( http://bit.ly/qGosd6 ) that Caesar was found by a volunteer looking for adoptable dogs at a shelter in Tucumcari. She was able to track down his owner, Monica Benson, after Caesar was scanned for a microchip.

Benson, who lost her husband and a daughter in the accident, said her four surviving children are very excited and have made "welcome home" posters for Caesar.

"This has been the best news we have received in a year," she said.

Caesar left Tucumcari this week for Clio, Mich.

The Benson family was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 near Tucumcari on June 15, 2010, when their 2001 Chevrolet mini-van overturned.

Gary and Emily Benson died from injuries in the accident. One of the other children, then-18-month-old Benjamin, was placed in an intensive care unit.

"While Benjamin was in the ICU, we placed picture of him and Caesar on the walls," Monica Benson told the newspaper.

Benson said the family returned to the accident and tried to find Caesar.

"It has been so hard," Monica Benson said. "There are pictures all over the house, and Benjamin would point at them and ask, `Where's Caesar?'"

Mike Martinez, animal control supervisor for Tucumcari, said a family dropped off Caesar on Thursday, saying they were moving and could no longer care for him.

Christina Flemming, a member of the Tucumcari Animal Rescue Group, found Caesar at the Tucumcari animal shelter on Friday.

After his chip was scanned, she said she called the number attached to the chip to find it had been disconnected. But she told the newspaper something didn't seem right, so she went online to try and find the family and found an article about the accident.

"I found the obituary and contacted the funeral home in Michigan," Flemming said. "A woman named Rhonda helped me to get in contact with Caesar's owners."

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