Sheer Chance Reunites Family with Beloved Dog Lost in Superstorm Sandy

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.

Dont Be Reckless Microchip Your Pets

So much of this distressing situation could have been avoided had Reckless been microchipped.

FEMA workers read microship

FEMA workers scan embedded microchip on lost dog following Hurricane Rita. Photo credit: FEMA

“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


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Lucky puppy...

Sandra Penna
Sandra Penna3 years ago


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

They sure had a lucky star over all their heads that day! I am glad everything worked out and that Reckless is back with his people!!

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

What a wonderful happy ending. Thanks for sharing.

KAROLY M3 years ago

That's what I call a true miracle, im so happy theyre all happy together again, God Bless them all.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago


mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

Fantastic -- thank you deeply to the shelters - I LOVE YOU ALL -- who kept Reckless alive and healthy -- this is exactly what animal shelters are matter how long...keep them alive, healthy and as happy as possible -- ALL shelters SHOULD be NO-KILL. We shouldn't have to read that, "dog / cat gets lucky when lands in THIS shelter as opposed to THAT shelter who murder (euthanize) animals needlessly within a very short time -- WE SHOULD NEVER TAKE THE DEATH PATH -- ALL SHELTERS SHOULD BE NO-KILL 24/7! Think of all the happy people, think of all the happy animals, think of all the happy reunions, think of all the happy adoptions!

Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Very cool!