Mom launches viral Facebook search party to reunite kid and stuffed dog

A mom took to Facebook to try to find the owner of a stuffed dog left at a highway rest-stop women’s room. (Photo: Facebook/Katie Hoeppner)
A mom took to Facebook to try to find the owner of a stuffed dog left at a highway rest-stop women’s room. (Photo: Facebook/Katie Hoeppner)

A mom who found a stuffed dog at a highway rest-stop women’s room has launched a national search to find its owner.

On Sept. 30, a woman named Katie Hoeppner posted a plea on Facebook. “I know this is a long shot, but please share this — I stopped at a rest stop on Iowa Interstate 80 Eastbound and found this little guy in the bathroom wondering where his family went. As a mom, I know exactly what it’s like to have a child who’s frantic when they lose their Stuffy. I decided to rescue him and bring him home until we can find his owner.”

She continued: “I don’t know his name, so I named him George. ‘George’ was my co-pilot home, wore his seat belt without a fuss, picked the music on the radio, and ran some errands with my family. I’m adding pictures to show George’s endeavors and captions to go along with it.”

The 34-year-old added, “Please help me get ‘George’ back to his family!!! He is currently on his way to my home, but I’m happy to mail him wherever he needs to go.”

Hoeppner uploaded 24 photos featuring George in hilarious scenarios: Meeting her 9-year-old daughter Bentleigh’s stuffed raccoon Mokey, lounging on a sofa watching television with Hoeppner’s 12-year-old son Grant, shopping at an arts and crafts store, and sipping a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. (“Don’t worry little human owner, the rescuer mom made the 9 year old order decaf,” Heoppener wrote in the caption.)

The photos have been liked 5,000 times, received almost 5,000 comments, and shared 27,000 times in far-flung places such as South Carolina, New York, Michigan, and Nebraska.

“I was heading home from visiting a friend that day and stopped to use the restroom, where I saw the stuffed animal,” Hoeppner tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “As a mom, I just thought, ‘OMG, what if that belonged to my kid?’”

She snapped a few photos — George “driving” her car, strapped into a seat belt, and scrolling through iTunes — and posted them to Facebook with a request to share them. She also filed a report with the Iowa Department of Transportation, which shared Hoeppner’s Facebook post. When Hoeppner got home, her post had exploded with shares and comments, and after a friend encouraged her to make the post public, Hoeppner decided to roll with it.

Although Hoeppner has received mostly positive comments for her efforts, some have also asked, “How could you have taken the toy from the bathroom?” and advised her to return it. However, given her daughter is so attached to her own stuffed raccoon — “It goes everywhere with us, including Disney” — she’s convinced she’s doing right by George’s owner.

Social media searches have resulted in reuniting children with their lost lovies. In July, a 4-year-old boy named Luke lost his favorite teddy bear (named Teddy Bear) at a Dallas airport. After launching a search party on Twitter and Facebook, the airport located the toy, which was with an employee who was keeping it safe. In the meantime, Teddy Bear had a ball hanging with the pilots in the cockpit of a plane and assisting workers on the tarmac. When Luke and his buddy were reunited six days later, his mother told ABC, “He jumped up and down like a crazy man.”

And in 2015, a 6-year-old boy named Owen who was “distraught” after misplacing his stuffed tiger Hobbes got him back from the Tampa, Fla., airport in which he was lost — but not before the toy had a proper vacation with ice cream and naps by the pool.

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