As they were preparing for their shift Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., New Jersey State Police Troopers Ryan Koehler and Vincent Ferdinandi received an unusual call: a golden retriever was spotted swimming in Barnegat Bay on the Jersey Shore and needed rescuing
The officers jumped into a 22-ft. Zodiac boat to motor to the dog, who was about 75 yards from shore, Ferdinandi tells PEOPLE. They used a rope line to gently guide the pup to land and lift him onto a dock behind a house.
"He was exhausted," Ferdinandi says. "Unquestionably malnourished and hungry."
For good reason. According to Ferdinandi, Chunk, 3, was playing fetch with owners Marie and James Zangara on June 6 when he apparently became scared and ran off into the woods.
According to the trooper, a search mission involving social media, local police departments, baited traps, hound hunters, and trail cameras has been underway since Chunk went missing from home on Sunday.
According to Ferdinandi, two joggers on the Mantoloking Bridge spotted Chunk early Tuesday morning; however, when they attempted to grab him, he jumped into the water. By the time he was rescued, he'd swum nearly two miles across the bay.
Chunk appeared scared of the troopers once they arrived on land — "he kind of backed away from us," Ferdinandi says. The pair, however, kept Chunk safe by their sides until the dog's family arrived.
"Seeing their relief that a part of their family was back was incredible, and the dog was happy to see his family as well," Ferdinandi says.
Koehler, a trooper for 16 years, has a rescue Lab/shepherd mix and understands how terrible it would be to have a dog missing for up to two weeks. "I completely get it," he says.
"We're just happy that the dog and his owners can be reunited," Ferdinandi adds.
The New Jersey State Police announced the good news on their Facebook page early Tuesday, in a post that has been shared over 6,000 times.
"Troopers Koehler and Ferdinandi responded in a vessel and located Chunk, who was swimming near the Mantoloking Bridge, and were able to safely bring him to shore," the State Police said in a Facebook post.
"Chunk, who is three years old, was missing for more than two weeks," the post continues. "He was obviously overjoyed to be reunited with his grateful owners."