HILLSBOROUGH — Three months after the Finetto family's dog jumped off their boat and disappeared they found out what happened to their beloved Jersey, even if it wasn't the answer they were hoping for.

Todd Finetto called Jersey a "swimming machine," which is why when they realized she had jumped off the boat in Sandy Hook Bay over Memorial Day Weekend they held out hope that she would turn up. After all, Jersey was never happier than when she was on the boat and on the water with her family.

"If that dog saw me getting my fishing equipment and put it on the side of the boat she'd try to climb the ladder of the boat in the driveway," he said. "She knew where she was going. She loved the beach, she loved the water. There wasn't a hesitation on that dog. She'd run down the dock and launch into that boat."

After months of waiting and countless tips that proved fruitless, they learned last week that Jersey's body had been found washed up on a beach in Keansburg last week.

"It was much harder than we expected. Completely deflating," he said. "As much as we kinda knew, it took all the hope away."

For as hard as getting the news was, Finetto said they were able to have some measure of closure. He also said the whole experience was somehow uplifting as complete strangers rallied to help his family. The larger search for Jersey started with a Facebook post by Finetto's wife Anne that was shared more than 20,000 times.

From the time of Anne's post, the Finettos got countless calls and tips, all hoping they could help reunite the golden retriever with her family. Those tips came from as far way as Virginia to as close as Princeton.

"You try to have hope. You expect the worst, hope for the best that somebody actually spots her," he said. "These people tried so hard and so diligently to find this dog and take time to track us down. It was almost like a respect thing to give everybody the fair shot that there was a possibility."

Through a few close calls, and some that came up empty, the phone calls kept coming. Finetto said they would travel from Mercer County to Ocean County and everywhere in between and see lost dog flyers for Jersey that people they never met had posted.

Jersey's body was found around 3 miles from where Finetto estimated she may have jumped from the boat. They had not checked the area in Keansburg where the dog was found, but said there were plenty of other places that had been thoroughly checked.

"There were so many people looking that this dog, if it touched land, it would have been identified," he said. "It's too condensed of an area with the people, and too condensed of an area to get past."

Not all the feedback on social media was positive for the Finettos. Todd said they got messages ranging from "we should drown our kids because we let or dog drown," to people saying they shouldn't be allowed to be dog owners. He said they even got scam calls from someone claiming to have Jersey, and they would return her in exchange for money.

Now that they know what happened to Jersey, Finetto said the family will very likely get a new dog at some point. For the most part he said the only thing they would do differently is make sure the dog wears a life preserver, no matter how strong of a swimmer they are.

"There's going to be no shyness in taking a dog on a boat," he said. We're on the goal people. We're on the boat almost every weekend. We don't believe in leaving a dog home."

In the end, thanks to the Keansburg Police Department and the local department of public works, Jersey was buried on the beach in Keansburg. A marker was placed at the spot where Jersey was buried, and Finetto said in the week since the dog was buried there people have left tennis balls and other items in tribute to her.

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