This past Christmas eve in Bentonville, Arkansas, Police Sgt. Robert Burkhart found a hound mix mutt lying still on the side of a busy road. The dog had been hit by a car, and showed little signs of life. With no collar or tags, her fate was measured in hours. Police in Bentonville have injured dogs euthanized, if they have no identification.
But emergency veterinarian Darlene Wier has a policy – “No dogs .. die on Christmas Eve.”
Using a scanner, she found the stray dog’s ticket home buried in the skin under her neck – a tiny microchip, no larger than a grain of rice. The chip contained the name, address and contact information of the stray – and also her name, Coaster. Coaster had been adopted by her owner, Stephanie Comstock, from a local animal shelter two years earlier. Coaster had bolted while being walked along Comstock’s other dogs, and less than hour after she went missing, she lay at the side of the road, struck down by a car. Comstock and her children searched frantically, but found no sign of the missing dog until the phone call came in telling her that Coaster was safe – if not completely sound – and waiting to come home.
Comstock is grateful her dog is implanted with a microchip.
“This is the first dog we had that had a chip in it. Before, when you lost a dog, it was just gone. So to have the chip in there and to be able to get them back is just great,” Comstock said.
The microchip planted between Coaster’s shoulders meant that Comstock could tell her kids that their dog was alive and well.
Half a country away, up in Canada, another dog was heading home to its owner – almost seven years after it went missing.
On December 25th, 2001, Don French of Jutenheim Rottweilers was the proud breeder of a gorgeous litter of Rotties. He chose his own ‘Christmas gift’ from this litter, a pick male that he hoped to eventually show in conformation and obedience. Five months later, while Don was out grocery shopping, someone stole Don’s puppy out of his fenced back yard. Months of searching proved fruitless – the dog was no where to be found. Don reported the theft to the police and the Canadian Kennel Club, but as the years passed, he gave up hope of ever getting the pup back home.
Flash forward to December 22, 2008. Don French, now living in Burlington and working and no longer breeding Rottweilers, received a call from Hamilton Animal Control. A stray Rottweiler had been found roaming the streets, and Don was listed on the dog’s microchip as a contact person. Don is now a professional dog trainer – his first thought was that one of his training clients had put his contact info on their dog’s chip registration form. When Don asked who the owner of the stray Rottweiler was, Animal Control replied “According to the CKC, you’re the owner and breeder”. Puzzled and operating on a long shot, Don looked up the registration information for the boy he’d help whelp, almost exactly seven years earlier.
The chip numbers matched – the stray dog languishing in a run at Animal Control was Don’s stolen Rottie.
Hamilton Animal Control has no idea where the dog came from, or where he’s been. The dog looks to be in good shape – well fed and well cared for – so Don speculates that perhaps the puppy was sold to a family who had no idea that they were actually harboring stolen goods. Either way, no one but Don ever turned up at Animal Control to claim him, so on Boxing Day Don picked up and brought him home. Don says that Santo – Jotunheims Kaga vom Santo – might be seven years old, but that he’s still acting like a puppy. Don is considering putting him in the conformation ring, just for fun.
With all the news stories of pets reunited with owners thanks to microchips, it’s only puzzling that more owners at willing to have their pets implanted. Doing so could possibly be the best Christmas gift you ever give – to yourself, or to your pet.
“The main benefit of having the microchip is so (veterinarians) can easily locate the owners if a dog or cat is found. With the chips, the dogs can be found and returned home,” Sugar Creek office manager Melissa Freeman said.
“Collars can get loose and fall off or if the dog is stolen, the collar can easily be taken off – but the microchip cannot be removed,” Freeman said.
“(Coaster) is a lucky dog,” Wier said, noting that all pet owners should have their dogs and cats microchipped. “We love a microchip.”