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Saving Shiraz: Why Microchips Matter

IN THE September 3 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
andAnimal Rescue Adventures
SECTIONS

by Wendy Hunter

Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.

There was a doggy named Shiraz
With funky ears and four white paws
She loved her squishy Snoopy toy
And chased it with unbridled joy
Her owner thought this happy gal
Would be her lifelong fuzzy pal
But soon Shiraz would disappear
And bring about a flood of tears
So Facebook posts began the plea
Plus flyers tacked on trunks of trees
The streets were combed all over town
And many visits to the pound
Yet still Shiraz remained a ghost
Her human searching coast to coast
But then the phone call finally came
And mentioned a familiar name…

arf

Shiraz

Wow, I got all fancy and poetic with you there. Don’t panic, I won’t force feed you any more of my rhythmic rhyming. This tale of heartache and homecoming comes to you from the world of OMG-that-is-unbelievable. Introducing Shiraz, a sweetie with a happy smile, and a fondness for stuffed playthings. She was adopted in 2010 by Daisy, a law student, who wanted a companion animal for her dog Merlot.

Juggling books and a job, Daisy visited a local shelter, and fell in love with Shiraz. Daisy says this caramel-cream cutie was a handful from day one. Merlot was completely unimpressed with his new sidekick, especially her Big Time Wrestling moves. Undeterred, Shiraz found another method of entertainment: liberating herself from the confines of the backyard. Channeling Steve McQueen’s “Cooler King” in The Great Escape, she was the consummate AWOL artist. As Daisy explains, “She managed to climb through some stacked furniture, and tunnel a hole under the fence. She escaped two to three times before I figured out where she was digging out from.”

Four months after adopting Shiraz, Daisy visited her parents in Los Angeles. She was reassured by her roommate that the dogs would be well cared for in her absence. Upon returning, she was informed that Shiraz had disappeared.

Questioning the circumstances, her roommate claimed the dog had run away. Brokenhearted, Daisy spent the next month distributing flyers, knocking on doors, posting on Facebook, and visiting shelters. Describing this hopeless journey, she laments, “I chased down so many strays thinking it might be her. The final day of my search, I remember walking down the street in tears.” arf

Several weeks later, Daisy discovered that the devious roommate and her boyfriend had actually sold Shiraz. Apparently, her pet was the last in a long line of personal belongings the duo had been stealing for quite awhile. Daisy recalls, “I was never able to find Shiraz, but she was never forgotten.”

After graduating in 2012, Daisy moved to Los Angeles. Three years later, she moved in with her current boyfriend, Sean. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave Merlot with her parents, as their apartment complex was not pet friendly. Luckily, her folks had two other dogs, and the trio quickly bonded. Then, this past July, she received a surprise phone call from Animal Rescue of Fresno. Per Daisy, the curious conversation went something like this:

“We found your dog”
“Uh, my dog is with my parents”
“We found her in a Fresno motel parking lot”
“Her? Fresno? I’m sorry…MY dog?”
“Shiraz?”

It turns out Shiraz was microchipped, and Daisy had wisely kept her contact information current in the registry’s database. In utter shock, her mind swirled with a million different thoughts. She couldn’t take in another dog, yet she refused to abandon Shiraz. Resolving to find her a home, Daisy turned to Facebook again, and called everyone she knew. To her dismay, nothing panned out. Ultimately, the couple decided to find a place where pets were welcome.

Despite the added expense, Sean just wanted his girl to be happy. (Note to Daisy: He’s a keeper.) After much stress and anxiety, they found a charming house with a yard, and plenty of space for doggy fun time. Last weekend, the pair drove to ARF, and collected their wandering one. It was lovely to see Daisy and her dog getting reacquainted, with Shiraz resting comfortably on Sean’s lap. It was truly kismet. I emailed Daisy a few days later, to see if the canine kids were getting along. I was thrilled by her response, “Yes, it seems like they got on quite nicely. Shiraz follows Sean around everywhere. It’s crazy how she doesn’t remember me too well, but she remembered Merlot right away, and he remembered her.” Looks like an elephant isn’t the only animal who never forgets. arf

This storybook ending would not be possible without that tiny microchip. Even smaller than a grain of rice, the chip is inserted with a needle under the dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Each chip holds a registration number, and other valuable data. Any vet or shelter can scan your dog, then call the registry to obtain your contact info. But do you really need to get your dog chipped? Aren’t a collar and tags enough? Well, they’re very valuable if Skipper strolls into the backyard of that hot neighbor. Dog gets rescued, owner gets date. Hey, it could happen.

ARF

Merlot in Daisy’s lap, (Coco, Daisy’s sister’s puppy), and Shiraz with Sean

But if that leopard-print collar slips off, and your critter ends up at the pound instead, a tiny chip is your champion. Now I know what you’re thinking; doesn’t it hurt? Why put my dog through it? Because those few seconds and that little pinch could someday save his life. I’ve seen gigantic German Shepherds whine like a spoiled child, and tiny terriers who don’t even flinch. Fees vary per clinic, but Valley Animal Center, Fresno Humane, and H.O.P.E. all offer chipping starting around $20.

Need more convincing? The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. Whoa, that’s a lot. Also, a study of 7,700 stray animals in shelters across the country produced some staggering results. Of the microchipped dogs, 52% were reunited with families, compared to only 22% of dogs without a chip. Any chipped animals not returned to their owners, was usually because the microchip wasn’t registered, or had incorrect contact information. A microchip isn’t any good if it still lists your old college address, and a landline phone number from 1975.

Now if all that powerful knowledge still doesn’t persuade you, just listen to Daisy: “When I lost Shiraz, I thought microchipping was a waste. Well, having the opportunity to be reunited with her six years later makes it worth it. If it wasn’t for her chip, who knows if she would have found another home! This makes microchipping worth it, and I would do it all over again.”

www.petmicrochiplookup.org
foundpets.homeagain.com
www.petlink.net/us/welcome
www.24petwatch.com

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.

Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for just over a year. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jane LeslieNo Gravatar
Twitter: @rnjane 56
September 6, 2016 at 9:41am

ALL my pets (and I have 10 of them) are microchipped. A dog i once had, who is waiting across the rainbow bridge for me, was also an escape artist and he was returned to me twice because of his microchip.
A former neighbor living across the street from me moved and left at least 10 cats and kittens behind (some people believe that cats can take care of themselves). I reported the abandonment to Animal Services and it turned out that one of the cats had a microchip so was able to be reunited with his former owner. He was such a nice cat and I’m glad that he was able to go home. I don’t know how long he had been missing. I only hope that the kittens were young enough to be socialized so they could be adopted but I couldn’t, in good conscience, just leave them there to breed unchecked, expose other cats to disease, and starve (I fed them until they were trapped).
The next step is to gradually fit the 3 dogs and 7 cats with GPS tags. Those are fairly inexpensive and, although I don’t like collars on cats (too much chance of them being caught up on something by the collar), it would be worth it to know where they are. Cats sometimes have more than one family who all think that it is THEIR cat!
All escape routes for the dogs have been cut off but you never know when a door or gate might accidently be left ajar so they will also get GPS tags to augment their microchips. Better safe than sorry!
I strongly urge everyone with a cat or dog to have it micro chipped. If you can’t afford a microchip, a spay/neuter, and vaccinations, then you can’t afford to have the cat or dog and should not adopt. Properly caring for your pets can be expensive and people should take that into account before impulsively adopting that cute kitten or puppy!

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