Ooverjoyed: Alyssa’s parents captured the reunion on video, which has become a YouTube hit, with 36,000 views in just six days. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: There was a dog's chance of it happening. But an abandoned German Shepherd cross who was 20 minutes from being put down in Dubai was reunited with its owners thousands of miles away in the UK.

Even as videos of the touching reunion of Holly with the Smith family in Hampshire have gone viral, UAE animal rescue groups that made it possible said the dog flew aboard an Emirates flight on November 17 after an equally dramatic turn of events.

Raghad Auttabashi of Al Rahma Animal Welfare Society, Abu Dhabi told XPRESS the pet was adopted by Darren and Claudia Smith, former residents of Dubai, two years ago. In May 2011, Darren lost his job and had to return to the UK. They were forced to leave Holly behind with a family but had every intention of getting her to the UK after the quarantine period. In fact, they had secured her pet passport and had her blood tests done before they left.

But as it turned out, Holly ran away from its new owners. Given up as an ‘abandoned dog', she was due to be put down at 1pm on an August afternoon.

Luckily, an animal lover who spotted her on ‘death row' posted a Facebook message with an adoption appeal. Raghad decided to take in the pet. "We managed to save her 20 minutes before she could be put down."

Kayla, as the dog was named, was cleaned and vaccinated. Shortly after, Raghad got in touch with Montserrat Martin of Friends of Animals (FOA), another rescue group, to help re-home the dog. Montserrat took pictures of her and posted an ad on the FOA website and an online forum.

Five weeks later, she received the most unexpected call; it was from Claudia Smith in Hampshire who claimed Kayla was her Holly! "Weeping like a child, Claudia said she had no doubt about Holly's identity. The conviction was touching," said Montserrat, who put her on to Raghad.

The next thing they knew they were all working to string Holly's papers together and fly her to Hampshire where the Smiths prepared to give their daughter Alyssa a lifetime's surprise.

"I grumbled about the money [the reunion cost them Dh7,450] but the look on my daughter's face was a priceless family moment," Darren Smith told the BBC.