CLIO (WWJ/AP) – A dog from Michigan, missing for over a year, is returning home after being found in New Mexico.

“Caesar,” a Maltese, was rescued from an animal shelter in Tucumcari, New Mexico. He had been dropped off there by a family that said they were moving and could no longer care for him. What nobody knew was that Caesar had a microchip, which was scanned and traced to the Benson family in Clio.

The Benson family was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 near Tucumcari on June 15, 2010, when their 2001 Chevrolet mini-van overturned.

Monica Benson lost her husband, Gary, and daughter, Emily, in the accident. One of her other children, then-18-month-old Benjamin, was placed in an intensive care unit.

“While Benjamin was in the ICU, we placed a picture of him and Caesar on the walls,” Benson told the Quay County Sun.

She said the family returned to the scene of accident and tried to find Caesar.

“It has been so hard,” Monica Benson said. “There are pictures all over the house, and Benjamin would point at them and ask, ‘Where’s Caesar?”‘

Christina Flemming, a member of the Tucumcari Animal Rescue Group, found Caesar at the Tucumcari animal shelter on Friday.

After his chip was scanned, she said she called the number attached to the chip to find it had been disconnected. But she told the newspaper something didn’t seem right, so she went online to try to find the family and found an article about the accident.

“I found the obituary and contacted the funeral home in Michigan,” Flemming said. “A woman named Rhonda helped me to get in contact with Caesar’s owners.”

Benson said her four surviving children can’t wait to welcome Caesar home, who is expected to be reunited with his family this weekend.

“This has been the best news we have received in a year.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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