Owner reunited with lovebird two years after losing him at Upsta - FOX Carolina 21

Owner reunited with lovebird two years after losing him at Upstate rest stop

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Little Tony the lovebird (Jan. 31, 2018/FOX Carolina) Little Tony the lovebird (Jan. 31, 2018/FOX Carolina)
Postcard for Tony (Source: Postcard Mania) Postcard for Tony (Source: Postcard Mania)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The journey of Little Tony began in 2016 at a rest stop in the Upstate.

A man named Mark Briggs was just passing through, traveling from Maryland to his home in Florida.

"I was living in Maryland temporarily on a job and packed up a U-Haul and packed up my animals and Tony," he said. "We were in the U-Haul about 11 hours and I guess the vibration of being in the car and the long ride, it stressed him out."

So Briggs pulled into a rest stop near Exit 81 in Anderson County to give Tony, his 5-year-old lovebird, a break.

“And I open the door and Tony bolted out that door and he had 40-foot trees, he had wide open skies. He's a bird, he was loving it," Briggs said. "And I was happy for him, watching him bolt around like a little bullet."

But after a while, Briggs said Little Tony stopped coming back to him and he couldn't hear his whistle anymore. He started to worry that the bird he had raised from a baby, was gone.

"I had to leave and so I drove all the way back to the border of Florida, where it says 'Welcome to Florida' and I turned around and I came back and I looked for him one more time," Briggs said. "It's about three hours and so I couldn't find him. I just went home. I went home sick... I was just sick thinking about losing Little Tony."

Briggs travels for his job and says he was blessed to get more work that took him through the Upstate - so he could revisit that rest area, looking for his bird. In addition to sending a lot of prayers, Briggs created a website to bring Tony home, offering a $250 reward for anyone who could return the beloved bird.

"I just really believed that God wanted to answer this prayer," he said. "You know, my last couple trips, I went by that same rest area where I lost Little Tony and a man was working there and I had asked him, 'Did you ever see a little parrot or a little bird?'"

The employee of the rest area knew exactly which bird Briggs was talking about and told him the bird would fly around the stop and made friends with visitors. After Tony gave one woman a kiss, she fell in love with him and took him home, he said.

Since he knew Little Tony was likely to be cared for by someone in the area, Briggs stepped up his search in late 2017 by hiring a company called PostcardMania to produce more than 3,000 postcards with information about the missing bird. The company sent the postcards to as many veterinarians and pet shops as they could in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

And someone who had Tony came across one of the postcards in January.

On Jan. 26, Briggs got a call he had been praying for since 2016. The woman who had Little Tony said he could come get his bird. Briggs said when he finally saw Little Tony again, he knew his feathered friend recognized him.

The woman who had been caring for Tony said he wouldn't let anyone pick him up, but Briggs was able to hold him and Tony gave him kisses on his nose until it turned red.

PostcardMania said it planned to refund Briggs for the cost of his campaign for Tony, but Briggs said he plans to donate the money to an animal shelter. So the company is going to match the donation.

"The whole thing is a miracle. It's a big, big miracle," Briggs said. "And I, I'm grateful to God for giving me this miracle."

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