DILLONVALE - Somewhere in Dillonvale Tuesday night, a young boy gave a rambunctious black lab puppy a strong hug before turning to bed.
The kindness and quick thinking of a Mt. Pleasant woman enabled this to happen, bringing a small sense of comfort to what has been an otherwise traumatic week for Joe Supinski and his family.
Early Wednesday morning, Supinski had opened his door to let out his two Labrador retrievers, Milton and Bradley, to use the restroom in his yard.
It's a move he's made countless times during the course of the two dogs' brief 2.5 years with the family. It's part of their routine.
That was the last Supinski saw his dogs alive.
"When I came home from work that first day and noticed they weren't back, I knew something was wrong because they would never leave," Supinski said. "They had gotten out twice in the two years we'd had them. And that's because I had left the gate open on accident. Even then, they'd be back in 10 minutes."
Friday morning, Supinski's mother-in-law received word from a school bus driver that Milton and Bradley had been found. And that they were dead, found a few feet apart approximately 1.5 miles from the family's home.
"The spot they were found, I think they were put there," Supinski said. "I don't believe that's where they died."
Supinski isn't sure he or his family will ever know exactly what happened that took the lives of Milton and Bradley. But he's certain it was not of natural causes.
Without an autopsy, it will be hard to determine the exact cause of death, as by the time the two were found, the bodies had already begun to decompose.
Supinski's still trying to figure out who would do such a thing.
"To be honest, I have no clue who would do this," Supinski said. "We live in the center of town, so people would always walk by and pet them in the yard. Everyone petted them. But, you don't expect too many people outside at 1 a.m."
Supinski is offering a reward of $500 for information leading up to the arrest of whomever abducted and killed his family's beloved pets.
That number will likely grow to a much larger total as countless residents, many of whom don't know Supinski personally, have offered donations toward the cause after reading about the story on a Facebook page created for the two dogs.
"Justice for Milton & Bradley" has received more than 4,000 likes and provided a forum for people to learn about what happened, offer their sympathies and try to ascertain any information that may lead to discovering the truth.
Supinski asked that anyone with any information that may assist with the case to call either the Dillonvale Police Department or the Belmont County Sheriff.
Sunday evening, a woman from Mt. Pleasant, reading about the story of Milton and Bradley, decided to visit Supinski and his family and give them her 9-month-old black lab puppy.
It won't fill the hole in the family's heart created by the loss of Milton and Bradley, but it has helped to ease the family's pain. And for that, Joe Supinski is grateful.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org