Losing a companion animal is a pet lover’s nightmare. When one of our cats disappeared while I was in law school, I didn’t hear a word of my classes until he was home again.
These six families lived through the nightmare — one of them for nine years! — but were reunited with their beloved companion animals thanks to microchips. If these pets had not been microchipped, they probably would never have made it home.
1. Taz – Portland, Oregon (3 Years)
A little black dog named Taz vanished in 2010 on Halloween night. For three years, his family missed him. They tried to make sense of his loss, speculating that either a coyote had attacked him or a person had stolen him. It’s hard to say what happened back in 2010, but in 2013 a couple spotted Taz running loose on their street and took him to a veterinarian. The vet’s office scanned the dog for a microchip, and voila. He had one. “That was a miracle right there,” said Donna Cox, who rescued Taz with her husband, Bruce Cox.
Taz’s family, the Davies, was thrilled to see him. “It’s so great someone actually did the right thing, took him to the vet, and they scanned him,” said Brenda Davies. It’s also so great that she had Taz microchipped.
2. Niamh – Worcestershire, United Kingdom (9 Years)
Niamh, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was missing for nine years. She disappeared after a neighbor removed a panel from her family’s fence. Milissa Mae had given up on ever seeing her beloved dog again, but this December, Niamh showed up more than 80 miles from her home. A shelter scanned her, found her microchip and called Mae.
Video Credit: InterestingLatestNews
The reunion “was a very, very tearful occasion,” Mae said.
Now 12 years old, Niamh seems to have been well cared for since she disappeared. She had a surprise waiting for her when she got home, too: her granddaughter, Ferdy, who is seven years old. The two are getting along well.
3. Honey – LaGrange, Georgia and Missouri (3 Months)
Golden retriever Honey ran away when she was staying with her family’s relatives last July. She journeyed more than 600 miles to LaGrange, Georgia before she was identified in October and reunited with her people, the Wallis family, who had been heartbroken over her disappearance.
Video credit: Adam Wallis
When Honey was rescued in Georgia, she was scanned for a microchip without success. Right before her prospective new family picked her up for adoption she was scanned once more, and for some reason, this time her ten-year-old microchip showed up.
The Wallises drove nine hours each way to pick Honey up. She is now home, safe and sound.
4. Molly – Fayetteville, North Carolina (6 Years)
In December 2007, a North Carolina family, the Lotts, lost both their dogs. They searched fruitlessly, and feared their companion animals had been stolen as bait dogs for the dog-fighting rings that are common in the area.
One of their wishes was granted last month when Molly, a black Lab mix, was turned in to an animal shelter. Her current owner wanted the shelter to kill her because she is 14 years old and has bad hips. Fortunately the shelter scanned the dog for a microchip before putting her down, and when they did, they discovered the Lott family. When he got the call from the animal shelter, Jeff Lott told them, “do not euthanize that dog.” Molly’s family picked her up within the hour.
The reunion was bittersweet. Jeff Lott called her condition “deplorable,” saying she looked like she hadn’t been getting enough food, and her fur was full of fleas.
Jeff had lost his job a month before he got the call from the shelter. Molly’s return was just what the doctor ordered for him and his family.
Molly, grayer than she was six years ago, is filling out and wags her tail constantly, happy to finally be home.
5. Skittles – Davis, California (8 Years)
When it comes to microchips, what’s good for the dogs is good for the cats. A microchip brought Skittles back to his family after eight years apart.
Way back when his family moved, Skittles ran off while his home was being dismantled. His family returned to their old neighborhood several times to search for him but had no luck.
Fast forward to March 2013 when a vet called Skittles’ family with the news that he had been found 20 miles away from them and identified by his microchip. They were overjoyed, but also conflicted — he must have had another family in the interim which was now searching for him. They checked the newspapers and the local SPCA shelter, but lucky for them they didn’t see any sign of someone looking for Skittles.
He returned on the 16th birthday of one of the family’s daughters, who hadn’t seen him since she was eight years old. The reunion brought her, her sisters and her friends to tears.
6. Kitty – Fort Lauderdale, Florida (6 Weeks)
For one Florida cat, his microchip did more than reunite him with his family — it probably saved his life.
During a cold snap, Kitty camped out under the hood of a warm car. 20 miles later, five inches of his tail was destroyed and large open burns scarred his side and head. Six weeks after he left home, he had also lost half his body weight and was infested with parasites.
Animal control found Kitty’s microchip and contacted his family, which took him to the veterinarian and got him patched up. Without the people who found him and called in animal control and without his microchip, he probably would not have survived his injuries. Now he is home, on the mend and enjoying lots of love.
How to Microchip Your Pet
A microchip is “a tiny capsule about the size of a grain of rice” that “is injected under the loose skin on the back of your pet’s neck,” explains the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals. It is no more painful than a shot. My cats didn’t even seem to notice that anything was going on when they got chipped (except for their acute awareness that they were at the vet, which they consider very, very bad).
Once the microchip is in place, keep your contact information up-to-date with the microchip’s manufacturer. That is who a vet or shelter will call if they find your pet and scan for the microchip; if the manufacturer doesn’t have your current address and phone number, your pet’s rescuers may not be able to find you.
Top photo credit: Salim Virji