A year and a half after her dog, Reckless, was lost during Superstorm Sandy, 10-year-old Alexandra James and her family decided it was time to adopt a new dog. Sad as the James family was, they’d finally accepted that Reckless was gone.
On May 1, the family trooped down to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to look over the dogs. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
“Literally when we opened the double doors, the first cage we walk up to I thought ‘that looks like Reckless,’” Chuck James told the Asbury Park Press. ”He was a little heavier and it’s been a little while, but then my wife saw the scar on his head and immediately we start tearing up and we found our dog.”
It was a one in a million reunion. And Reckless’ reaction?
“He jumped three feet in the air,” James told CNN. “He immediately recognized us. And then the tears came — there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.” See a news story about the happy reunion here:
How Reckless Was Lost
When Superstorm Sandy bore down on Keansburg, N.J, in October 2012, it managed to partially destroy the fence around the James home. Reckless, frightened, scooted out through an opening. Unfortunately, his collar snagged on the fence and came off. He was gone with no tags to identify him.
“I saw his collar sticking in the fence,” James told the New York Daily News. “It couldn’t have been a worse case scenario.”
From there, it’s unclear what happened to Reckless. The family searched for him for months, including at the Monmouth County SPCA were they eventually found him 18 months later. Best guesses believe Reckless may have been taken in by someone for a period of time. The SPCA found him as a stray on the street in October 2013.
Reckless, renamed Lucas by the SPCA staff, sat there as an adoptable dog for almost seven months. Somehow, fate kindly placed him in a no-kill shelter and kept him from disappearing with another family.
“It was like bailing my dog out of jail.”
Overjoyed to have found their dog, the James family happily forked over the $180 adoption fee, even though they could prove Reckless was their dog.
“They took care of the dog, microchipped him, he saw a vet regularly, and (they) sheltered him,” Chuck James told the Asbury Park Press. ”It was like bailing my dog out of jail.”
The James family’s house still bears evidence of the damage Superstorm Sandy inflicted in 2012. Eighteen months later, standing water remains in the family’s basement, amazingly. For now, though, none of that matters. Reckless is home.
Little Alexandra and Reckless “have been sleeping together in the bed ever since,” her father told the New York Daily News.
Don‘t Be Reckless – Microchip Your Pets
So much of this distressing situation could have been avoided had Reckless been microchipped.
“It’s not very often we’re able to reunite [pets] with their owners in the way that this happened. It does happen sometimes, but this was a very rare story,” Liz Wise, development and marketing director at the Monmouth County SPCA, told the Asbury Park Press.
“It also shows the importance of microchipping your pets because had he been microchipped, we would’ve been able to reunite him with his family sooner,” she added.
Microchipping costs only about $45. Your veterinarian injects a chip the size of a grain of rice between your pet’s shoulder blades. A microchip is not a tracking device. Rather it’s a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant. It will last the lifetime of your pet.
RFID chips can be read by a scanner held over the chip. The scanner reveals the chip’s ID number, which is used to find the pet’s family’s contact information in the pet recovery database. Here’s a footstomper: remember to keep your contact information current within the database. Many forget to do this, making the chip almost useless just when you need it most.
Shelters and veterinarians always check for microchips when dealing with a lost pet. Isn’t $45 for a lifetime of protection worth it? Let’s just say yes and get it done.
Photo credit: Monmouth County SPCA/Rusty Rembrandt Studio