Thursday, July 17, 2008

Long Lost Dog Found!

I included in my blog a few weeks ago how sad I was when a local dog went missing. I don’t know its owner, so I’m unaware whether that pup returned home. How sad if it didn’t! And since I still see flyers here and there that were posted then, I suspect the poor thing is still gone.

What got my attention this week was a really wonderful story about a dog being returned to a child after being missing for five years. Rocco the beagle was microchipped, so I don’t know why he wasn’t returned home sooner--unless whoever took him in and moved him to another part of the country didn’t know, or care, that he might have had a home and people who loved and missed him.

The person who missed him most was only 5 years old when Rocco disappeared from his home in Queens, New York. He was found 850 miles away, in Georgia. The article I first read about him said that he didn’t seem to remember the little girl, Natalie, who’d been devastated when he disappeared. Meantime, her family had acquired another dog who apparently wasn’t pleased to have her territory muscled in on by this interloper.

But Natalie and Rocco appeared on The Today Show yesterday along with a couple of other human family members. Natalie is 11 now, and unsurprisingly seemed a bit overwhelmed with her sudden notoriety. Rocco was calm and seemed to be in good health, although they pointed out a scar over one ear.

I tried Googling microchips to find out how successful they have been in reuniting pets with owners. There are at least a couple of different systems. With both, once the chip is inserted into the pet, the owner has to keep information up to date with the tracking systems. Apparently, they’re fairly successful in getting owners and pets back together--although if someone picks up a wandering animal, and chooses not to try to find the owner, having the pet microchipped obviously won’t help. But if the lost pet is taken to a shelter or a vet, a scan is usually done so the pet can be reunited with his/her family.

Both of my Cavaliers are chipped, although I of course hope there will never be any reason for it. I don’t know whether I’ve ever addressed that Lexie, the Cavalier owned by Kendra Ballantyne, the protagonist of my pet-sitter mysteries, also is chipped. That’s something I should probably clarify in a future book. Kendra would have certainly done the right thing--everything to ensure her Lexie is cared for in the best way possible.

Sure, there are supposed downsides. It may hurt to get the chip injected. Maybe they move and are hard to find to scan. And, if enough tests are done, perhaps lab rats or mice develop problems.

But I think it’s a real kick to hear about a situation like Rocco--who’d been taken to a shelter and probably had his life in jeopardy--to finally, after so many years and miles, get home.

What do you think--are your pets chipped?



Monica Ferris said...

We have two cats who live indoors -- but both are chipped. Because you never know. The chip was a service offered as part of the adoption process from our local Humane Society. But now you remind me, I haven't updated the information on the chips since we've moved. I need to do that; thanks for the reminder.

zhadi said...

I have 10 cats (all clean and fat and sassy, no crazy cat lady here!) and none of them are chipped. They're all inside only, but I would still like to get it done. The logistics are a bit intimidating...

Linda O. Johnston said...

That's quite a cat family, zhadi. I can see why the prospect of getting everyone chipped is bit daunting. Maybe there's a way of doing it with a house call!
And glad to be of service, Monica. Do you still have the same phone numbers? Cell phone numbers, at least, can stay with you, and if one's on your contact info it should be possible to track you down--although hopefully that kind of contact will never be needed!

Camille Minichino said...

Hmmm. Would chipping work for editors and agents?

Kathryn Lilley said...

I have two indoor kitties--I should get them chipped next time I take them to the vet. Does it require anesthesia? One of them is elderly and I wouldn't want to subject her to undue stress.

By the way, following up on your post from last week, Linda, turns out there's a petition going around urging the Obamas to adopt a homeless dog:

Everything in the end is political (grin)!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Odd--I just posted a reply comment, I thought, but it disappeared.

Anyway, Camille, if you get your editor or agent chipped, wouldn't they want to do the same to you? And would you really want them to be able to find you anywhere??

And, Kathryn, one of my Cavaliers was under anesthesia when she was chipped (being spayed) and the other was not. One vet suggested there was some discomfort, especially to a pup who got very upset about shots. The other seemed to think it was fine. Maybe it depends somewhat on the person who does the chipping, too.

And thanks for the update on the Obama pet adoption idea. Our blog readers undoubtedly helped!


Asta said...

My Dog ASTA is chipped..she was still ababy when it was done. I hopeI never have to test out it's effectiveness, but since she is a naughty Wire Fox Terrier..who certainly would go on an adventure if she ever got loose..I feel better having it.

I love the story of Rocco..Amazing
smoochie kisses from ASTA

Linda O. Johnston said...

If ASTA's naughty, I agree that chipping was a good thing, just in case. She sounds adorable!
And smoochie kisses right back to ASTA!

Betty Hechtman said...

I have heard there is some concern about the chips causing problems. Einstine, my cat that died almost two years ago, got a grownth on his lung several months after getting chipped. He was only nine or that's what we think. He just showed up on our front porch one day.

My terrier mix got chipped the same time Einstein did and she seems fine. The two adult cats we got from the SPCA came already chipped.

I am careful about my pets, but even with the health concern think getting them chipped is a good idea.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Betty, some of the web sites I looked at suggested there could be some health problems associated with chips, but I didn't think they were necessarily convincing. I sure hope the chip wasn't the cause of your poor cat's lung problems. In any event, I agree that it's probably a better idea to get a pet chipped than not, since they can't tell whoever finds them where they live!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Kate, here. I work in a vet's office and the needle to inject a microchip is a bit bigger than for regular shots, so if a dog is sensitive (thin skin, not much muscle or even a bit on the thin side are physical possibilities) - or the owners have babied them and not handled them enough to tolerate shots, then yes, there could be some discomfort. However, the advantages outweigh the negatives, as long as the registration is kept up-to-date. Also, don't forget regular tags on the collar, since many city animal controls don't have scanners, and regular tags (ID with your #s and rabies with the vet's #) can help animal control/police contact the owners before they are sent off to a shelter, where it's a toss-up as to their fate. Remember, if you're traveling, to get a special tag with a local contact # or two, so Good Samaritans or city workers can get in touch with you or whoever you're visiting. A tag might cost $5-6, but could save your best friend, who is worth it.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks for your insight, Anonymous Kate. Glad to hear that, on the whole, microchips are a good idea and generally not too painful. Both my Cavaliers wear 2 tags--one with our contact information and the other with information about the chip company who also has our information! Of course collars can come off, so I'm glad they're chipped, too. Having new tags made for traveling is a great idea!

parlance said...

My dog is chipped, didn't seem to mind the injection at all.
I think the story of the lost dog has a sad side, in that perhaps someone had loved him for the five year interval. (I'm not sure if I missed reading how well he had been looked after in the intervening years.)

I agree with you about missing-dog posters. They always make me feel sad. One on a lamppost in our local park turned out to be the dog of my trainer, who lives eighteen kilometres away from me and had only visited my park that once. I was able to go down to the park and paste over the sign the word "found!", because it turned out to have a happy ending.