CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) — A pit bull that was stolen from its owner in Montana and taken across the country to West Virginia is on its way back home, thanks to a microchip and a group of volunteers who love animals.

Cassandra Rasmussen of Butte, Montana, said a person she considered a friend stole her purse and took her 9-year-old dog Zeus on Oct. 30.

After several anxious days of searching, Rasmussen learned the suspected thief had been arrested in the Charleston, West Virginia , area in November and the dog was taken to a shelter. Workers at the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association scanned him for a microchip and identified Rasmussen as the owner

“I started to try and figure out, how am I going to get him home?” said Rasmussen, a single mother of two daughters. “I really want to just go get him and bring him here but I can’t just afford to do that and I can’t just take the time off work and my kids.”

Many Paws Volunteer Transport offered to right the wrong. Volunteers are driving Zeus the nearly 2,000 miles back to Butte while others are helping to pay for motel rooms and meals for his human escorts, according to the group’s Facebook page.

The trip began Tuesday. After a layover in the St. Louis area, Zeus is expected to be home to his family next week.

“The kindness of everybody is just amazing,” said Rasmussen, who has spoken with TV stations in Montana and West Virginia about her story. “I am super excited to see him and I can’t wait to give him a big hug.”

The Charleston-area shelter’s executive director, Chelsea Staley, said finding a way to get Zeus back home is an example of the work they do year-round.

“So while this is a holiday heartwarming story and this really pulls at your heart strings this time of year, this is just an example of what we do 365 days a year,” Staley told WSAZ-TV. “So if it was June, we’d still be trying to get Zeus home to Montana.”

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