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Friday night at the reTails adoption center in Washington Square Mall begins another busy weekend of adoptions, but last night was special. We received 2 rescued dogs from animal control in New Castle, as we often do, Mason, a Yorkie, and Harpo, a Shih Tzu. Even though they came from a shelter, we scanned them for microchips. None were noted on the paperwork from the shelter, who has a reputation for being thorough on scanning, so we were surprised when Harpo had a chip.
Harpo the Shih Tzu was actually named Bandit, according to Home Again, the microchip company. His chip had been registered, and the last address was in Greenfield. Although we always hope the chip information will lead to a recovery, it often doesn't, as people forget to change their registration information when they move. So I started through the phone numbers given, not only was the number still valid, but the owner answered the phone immediately!
I identified myself and our organization and asked if he was missing a dog. He stifled a small gasp and I could hear the quiver in his voice, and he said he was missing a dog, who he identified, and had been missing the dog for FIVE YEARS! Mike then asked if I was pranking him. For the life of me, I couldn't think of a more cruel prank, but assured him it was real. Mike asked where he could pick him up. As it turns out, Mike was now living in an apartment only a couple miles from our adoption center, and was on his way there!
Mike arrived at our adoption center within 10 minutes. A small crowd had gathered in anticipation of his arrival and he couldn't restrain his tears of joy as he took Bandit into his arms. Bandit was still shell-shocked, which isn't uncommon for dogs trying to sort out their experiences going from a home to the street to a shelter, then to our adoption center. But Bandit was clearly contented in Mike's arm. The crowd of volunteers and bystanders were all moved by the scene. Nobody missed the significance of Bandit's homecoming so close to Christmas.
You can watch a video of Mike's homecoming with Bandit on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg0-R585kZk
Mike had moved back in with his parents after a divorce in Florida. Bandit was actually a bitterly contested part of the divorce settlement! Mike had gotten Bandit when he was a palm-sized puppy in 2002, the runt of the litter. Bandit wasn't keen on being crated, so one day after Bandit was especially agitated in his crate, Mike decided it would be okay of Bandit stayed out while he was working. Bandit escaped and was last seen being picked up by an unknown man in a car. Despite someone having gotten the license plate number, Mike was never able to get a response from the man. Mike posted "lost" notices and received hundreds of responses, but none ever led him to Bandit. According to the paperwork from New Castle, Bandit was found as a stray in New Castle on 11/30 and had been there since.
This comes only one week after a 14-year old miniature Poodle named AJ was found dumped in a damaged carrier outside our back door in the rain. He was microchipped, and was returned to his owner after being lost for 8 months!
Make sure your holidays are happy -- microchip AND put collars with tags on your pets! If your pet is microchipped, make sure the registration is current. Make reviewing your pet's microchip registration information part of a yearly ritual, for instance when they go into the vet for their check-up and shots. Seldom does anyone expect their pet to go missing, yet it happens every day!
But if your pet is lost, don't give up hope! Miracles do happen -- just ask Mike!!