Despite the best and most thorough care, many pet owners will experience their dog or inside cat getting out and running away at some point. Some dogs are into more of a relaxed mosey and are easily found a few yards away, while others take off into the wide world and are never seen again.
There are plenty of measures you can take when your pet escapes: Search the neighborhood, ask neighbors if they’ve seen your pet, post on Facebook lost pet groups or Nextdoor, hang up signs, put out laundry that smells like you and check the local shelter.
Kathryn Strang did many of those things when she lost her toy fox terrier, Dutchess. According to the New York Post, her son opened the door and the pup slipped out.
“I was at work, and my son, who was 12 years old, accidentally opened the door in the afternoon after school one day and we never saw her again,” Strang told CBS News.
At that time, Strang and her family lived in Orlando, Florida, and she said they were near a busy street. While she assumed her 2-year-old dog had probably been hit or stolen, she didn’t give up hope.
She went to the local animal shelter every day for months, looking for her precious pup. But when months passed and there was still no sign of the little terrier, she began to accept that her dog was probably gone for good.
Despite that, Strang did one very important thing that ultimately made all the difference — even years and years later.
Dutchess had been microchipped, which is a permanent method of identification. A microchip is only useful, however, when the information is kept up-to-date and active.
So every year since 2007, Strang has been updating her contact information online and paying the annual fee of $15 to keep the chip active, hoping against hope that it might pay off.
Twelve years later, it did.
Humane Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh recently received a senior toy fox terrier. She’d been found hiding under a shed, her nails were overgrown and she was hungry — but she was alive.
When rescue workers scanned the elderly dog, they found a chip and were able to use the contact information to call Strang.
“When she got that call from us, she was in disbelief,” the shelter’s manager of digital communications, Zac Seymour, told USA Today. “She couldn’t believe it was happening.”
“The whole story kind of unfolded while we were on the phone,” admissions counselor Torin Fisher said, according to The Washington Post. “And we were equally excited and shocked and surprised.”
“I held out hope because I paid for that microchip every year,” Strang told CBS. “It was $15 a year I wasn’t going to give up hope for that. Always hope.”
The now-14-year-old dog was over 1,100 miles from where Strang was living. The dog couldn’t speak to tell her tale, but that didn’t stop Strang from making the trek to be reunited with her Dutchess.
According to Seymour, the meeting “was very emotional for everyone.” He called the story an excellent example of how important it is to microchip your pet and keep their information updated.
“It’s such a small price to pay for that peace of mind.”
As for Strang and Dutchess, life goes on — and with more peace of mind now.
“I’m just so happy to have her back,” Strang said. “I cried so many nights without her.”
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