A Rescuer’s Worst Nightmare Comes True
September 20, 2012 at 9:00:09 am | Posted by Jane C. in Dog Behavior, Pet Identification, Pet MicrochippingTweet
It’s every pet lover’s worst nightmare. You find the perfect dog, bring her home from the shelter, and hours later, she’s gone.
For dachshund rescuer Joy, it all happened in the blink of an eye. Within two days of rescuing little Lola (an adorable doxie mix) and sending her home with her new foster parent, Joy received the horrifying call that Lola had escaped. The story? The foster parent had a pet friendly office; she took Lola into work, and Lola bolted when a coworker opened the door.
What’s worse, Lola wasn’t wearing a collar or an ID tag.
Joy had these items ready for her, but they never actually made it onto Lola. The foster parent had another dachshund that didn’t typically wear a leash, so she didn’t think Lola needed them. But every dog is different, and while your dog can appear to be well-trained in one environment, she can easily be spooked in a new place and do something out of the ordinary (like running away). In fact, pets usually get lost immediately after an adoption or move, so it’s important to put all identification on the dog right away, including a collar and an ID tag with your phone number.
When most lost pets make it home, it’s thanks to good Samaritans — external ID tags and old-fashioned “Lost Pet” flyers do wonders to help reunite pets with their families. However, according to research done by The Journal of the American Veterinary Association, fewer than half of dogs and only one in five cats are wearing tags when they disappear. Without an ID tag, it could be days before someone knows how to contact the owner of a found pet. And, as Joy would later find out, the foster parent didn’t put up a single “Lost Dog” poster in the neighborhood. Luckily, Joy had taken a picture of Lola at the kennel. “When I found out she was lost, I blasted it all over Craigslist. I even placed a paid ad in the newspaper!” Joy knew that without flyers and ID tags, the chances of Lola making it home were slim to none.
Except for the fact that Lola had a microchip. And her microchip was registered in the Found Animals Microchip Registry.
“I had registered her right away, and I knew the microchip was my only hope,” said Joy. That’s because when a shelter or vet scans a found pet and the microchip number is registered with Found Animals, the finder can send automated Found Pet Alerts to the pet owner on file. This means a phone call, text message, and email to the registered owner — all within 15 minutes of the alert being sent.
But in order for the system to work, someone needed to find Lola first.
So for Joy, the waiting began.
“I was a basket case,” she said. “I jumped every time the phone rang, and I spent the entire night checking my text messages and emails.”
She didn’t have to wait long. The very next morning, Joy got the call, text, and email informing her that Lola had been found. “I just was so happy. As long as it was from Found Animals I knew [Lola was safe], and it was the best message I could have gotten. I’m very glad it worked.”
Apparently, a good Samaritan had seen Lola running down the street, and when she opened her car door, Lola jumped in. She drove around looking for flyers, but didn’t find any. The local vet was closed, so the good Samaritan took Lola home for the night. The next day she took Lola to the vet to check for a microchip … leading to a Found Pet Alert, and a happy reunion between an overjoyed rescuer and her dog.
“If the flyers had been up around the neighborhood, the dog might’ve been home right away,” said Joy. “The more things you have working for you, the more chance you have of getting the dog back.”
When asked if Lola has tried to run since she came back home, Joy confirmed that Lola still follows her doggy wanderlust by trying to escape. Luckily, Joy found a way to keep her safe. “There’s an eight foot tall wooden wall around the yard,” Joy laughs. “It’s very secure, so she can’t get out now!”
Even with experienced pet owners or foster parents, there are some things that are out of your control – no matter what you do to try and protect your pet. But one thing that is under your control is ensuring pets have proper ID, including a registered microchip. “Absolutely register the microchip in your name immediately,” said Joy. “Don’t wait. ‘Cause that’s what saved me, doing it right away. It was my saving grace.”
The Found Animals Microchip Registry is free for all pet owners and rescue groups. It only takes a few minutes to register your pet’s microchip!