It is a sickening feeling for a pet owner to have one’s furry friend disappear. Or in our case, three years ago, two at the same time!
Despite the ease of creating on-the-spot identification tags and microchip technology these days, the occurrences are still frequent. But so too are the reunifications. Last year, 601 animals found within Bakersfield’s city limits alone were reunited with their owners, according to Bakersfield Animal Care Center Executive Director Julie Johnson.
“That doesn’t count the number of animals found in the field, who were microchipped and taken back to their owner, often near where they were discovered,” she added. “We have seen animals reunited even after a couple of years.”
Our family’s doggone “tail,” recounted on these pages three years ago, didn’t drag on that long. But it served as a painful lesson learned of the importance of identification, microchipping, detailed description and awareness of the intricate web of animal services that rely on each other locally.
Three years ago, our corgi-chow mix and her Lhasa-mix companion flew the coup. The nerve, I thought. My husband reminded me often during “dog-gate” that they were, in fact, creatures of the streets when we inherited them. Yet, we had committed the cardinal sin of pet ownership and failed them in epic fashion by not microchipping them or placing their tagged collars around their necks.
After exhausting all resources, and turning to the repetitive nature of social media, our story had happy endings. We got a second chance to be first-rate pet owners thanks to the kindness of strangers. And we now have great empathy for others experiencing the same heartache.
Five months ago, a good friend found herself in the same boat. Her 8-month-old spaniel-terrier mix Pee Wee, who often accompanied her to work, slipped out of the building’s confines into the belly of downtown Bakersfield on a hot August day. Just 12 pounds, Pee Wee, who was microchipped but not collared, with her long, droopy ears and long tail, was last seen near Dagny’s headed east, likely somewhere in the east or southeast part of town.
We began saturating social media, posting, reposting and encouraging friends and family to do the same in search of Pee Wee. It generated interest. Remember, we are an animal-loving town. It also brought about a lot of false leads. But although seasons have changed, hope springs eternal.
“I’m hoping Pee Wee found a family in that little neighborhood where she was last seen,” said her owner Lois Henry.
Local experts advise pet owners to employ a mixture of tactics when a pet goes missing, noting that time will be of the essence.
“Check all three shelters first and in person, then follow up by checking all three of their websites often,” Johnson recommended.
Post fliers throughout the neighborhood and walk and drive neighboring streets daily, make sure the microchip information is current and be wary of pet-recovery offers for a fee.
“Social media is a good thing as good ideas go, but there are so many different local websites that one can get lost trying to post information,” Johnson added. “And don’t give up hope!”
For Henry, there is hope in the possibility that Pee Wee found another loving home.
“I just got really sad reposting over and over,” she said. “If I never find her, I will always be impressed by and grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met. Plus, I know at least three dogs that were rescued by people looking for Pee Wee, so that’s a great thing!”
It is my hope that there will be a follow-up to this column, about a good outcome, with Lois Henry’s byline. ￼
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lisa Kimble.