A mystery dog found in a car with a smashed window has gone to a new home.

The female dog was found sitting in Whanganui East woman Kataraina Cobain's car last week. One of the back windows was shattered.

Animal control officers confirmed the dog's owner had died last year. They didn't know where it had been since, but said it was healthy.

Animal management support officer Stacey Houlahan said the previous owner's daughter saw a photo of the dog in the newspaper and recognised it as belonging to her late mother.

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"She was really happy to find the dog," Houlahan said.

The woman went to the pound on Friday and adopted the dog.

Mystery remains as to who had the dog after its owner died, and how it got into the car - whether someone smashed the window and put the dog in, or whether the dog somehow jumped in itself.

Cobain had posted a photo of the dog on Facebook page Buy Sell Swap Wanganui, and later received text messages from an unknown number saying "Got my dog bitch" and claiming they were coming back for the animal.

Nobody answered the phone number when she rang it and nobody came back for the dog, which had already been taken to the pound.

Houlahan said it was a "happy ending" for the dog to be reunited with its old owner's family.