GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When a man surrendered female pit bull Melfy to the Humane Society of South Mississippi in May, he didn't realize it would lead to a star-studded reunion.
"A gentleman found it walking around in Gulfport as a stray and brought it in to us," said animal care lead Crystal Cornelson.
Shelter employees Cornelson and Jessica Winkelman say when they checked the microchip, they were surprised to learn Melfy came from Animal Planet's reality show Pit bulls and Parolees. After making contact, cast members Tonya and Earl came to Gulfport with photographers to pick up the dog.
"I think they were a little confused at first as to how the animal got all this way. I guess she was supposed to be in New Orleans," said Winkleman, who notes that the incident highlights the importance microchipping plays in pet and owner reunions.
During the month of May, 162 strays were surrendered to the shelter; 85 of those were returned to their owner. Though some dogs like Melfy get a second chance to see their owner, the end result is behind shelter bars for many pit bulls.
"A lot of it has a lot to do with breed restriction, most rentals will not allow pit bulls. I don't know if it's insurance purposes. The breed is actual a great breed. I'm not sure why most of them aren't allowed, said Winkelman.
Employees say pit bull and pit bull mixes make up the largest breeds in the Humane Society.
Cornelson added, "A lot of people I think just over look them because they get a bad wrap."
Pit Bulls and Parolees is filmed at a shelter just outside New Orleans. The show focuses on pairing parolees with pit bulls to rescue and rehabilitate pit bulls.