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Dog missing since restaurant gas explosion, reunited with owner

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A two-year-old yellow lab that had been missing since the JJ's restaurant explosion and fire on the Country Club Plaza Feb. 19, is now at home safe and sound with his owner.

Numerous sightings of the dog from neighbors in the area led to the impromptu search on the city's east side. FOX 4 News was there as the dog's owner, John Verstraete, received the good news.

Verstraete was searching the area with his other dog, Zeus. He hoped Zeus would catch his brother Perceus' scent.

"Each day I haven't given up hope that he's out there," Verstraete said.

Verstraete said Percy ran off on Feb. 19, spooked by the explosion and fire on the Plaza, which was located right next door to Verstraete's doctor's office.

Since then, there have been reports of Percy sightings, but the dog ran from strangers who tried to approach him.

Dozens of volunteers joined the effort to find Percy. They even started a Facebook page. But it seemed luck wasn't on their side -- at least not yet.

"I'm going to walk back towards home and maybe hopefully pick up the scent," Verstraete said.

Just as they headed home, a volunteer in an SUV pulled up and told Verstraete that they had found Percy.

Verstraete hopped into the car, weaving through city streets and stopping near 36th and Olive. He ran into a yard full of volunteers, then finally, into the legs of his beloved lab.

"Where you been?" Verstraete asked Percy as they embraced.

Verstraete said Percy lost 18 pounds and appeared very hungry. But all his owner cared about was that he was safe.

"Just overwhelmed with emotion because I'm so glad that he's back," Verstraete said.

Verstraete said it was thanks to the help of all the volunteers.

"Thank you all very much," he said. "I obviously probably wouldn't have found him if it wasn't for all you guys."

This heart-felt reunion appeared to be all the volunteers wanted. Organizers said none of the volunteers are planning to claim the $1,500 Verstraete put up to bring Percy home.

Organizers had planned on searching for Percy on Sunday. But because he was found, instead they'll be celebrating the dog's return at 1 p.m. at the Starbucks located on the Plaza.

Related Story:
Doctor seeks help finding dog scared off by Plaza explosion

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