Thankfully, Hannibal’s mom never truly stopped looking for him.

When Mariah Cummings' 3-year-old pit bull, Hannibal, was stolen in a home burglary in 2018, she wasn't sure if she'd ever see him again. Miraculously, two-and-a-half years after he was stolen, the two reunited after a cross-country road trip. Documented on Cummings' TikTok, the tear-filled reunion has gained over 4 million views.

Cummings adopted Hannibal in 2014 when he was a puppy. From the day they met, the two were inseparable. Cummings says she would stay up at night and cry at the thought of outliving Hannibal and having to continue without him.

In July 2018, Cummings' fear of being without Hannibal came true. After returning from a trip, she pulled into her driveway in Saginaw, Mich., and noticed the back door to her house was completely broken and left open. When she entered the house, it was clear someone had broken in—and Hannibal was missing.

"The first thing I said was, 'I don't hear Hannibal,'" Cummings said.

Cummings says the burglars took or destroyed almost everything in her house. There were broken cabinets and missing TVs and bedding. When she noticed Hannibal's food, bowls, and leashes were gone, she knew her dog hadn't just escaped. He had been stolen.

Cummings immediately began looking for her sweet pup by posting flyers, sharing on social media, appearing on the local news, and visiting local animal shelters every week.

woman sitting with pit bull she reunited with after 2 years
Credit: Mariah Cummings

"I was visiting shelters up until I moved to Tennessee two years later. I went to almost every animal shelter in Michigan," Cummings tells Daily Paws.

Every once in a while, even after she moved to Tennessee, Cummings would get a message from someone who believed they had found Hannibal. But it was never him. That is, until December 2020, two-and-a-half years after Hannibal had been stolen, when a friend sent Cummings a photo of a dog who was being fostered in the same town where Hannibal had gone missing. 

"The moment they sent me that picture, I was like, 'That's him. I'm on my way,'" Cummings said. "And I started driving that night."

At first, Cummings was worried Hannibal wouldn't remember her. But the second he saw her at the shelter, the pooch ran straight into her arms.

"The tears were just rolling. It wasn't like an actual cry, it was like my body was just crying for me," Cummings tells Daily Paws.

When Hannibal came home, he had a few new scars. And after a trip to the vet, they discovered a mast cell tumor in his shoulder, which was thankfully removed through surgery.

Despite all he's gone through, Cummings says Hannibal's sweet personality didn't change one bit. If anything, he's clingier than ever, following Cummings and her son around the house and snuggling in their beds whenever he has the chance.

"We are loving him to the fullest while we have him. And we're thankful that we have him," Cummings says.