Microchip your pets, people! Yesterday, we had a couple pugs brought into the animal shelter by the Animal Control Officers. We scanned them for microchips and found that they were chipped. We called the owner, who was shocked to hear from us. "They've been missing for six months!" she said.
Shortly after, another lady called. "I just lost my two pugs, have they been picked up?" The story wasn't too hard to figure out. The original owner had lost the pugs six months earlier. The second lady found them, and rather than bringing them to the shelter, had kept them. Only when they had escaped and been brought to us and scanned had we found the original owner.
Ironically, the ownership of the dogs is still not clearcut. Apparently, as long as the finder makes a "good effort" to find the original owner, they can keep the animals. Since the original owner put up flyers all over town looking for their dog, and the finder had never brought the animals to us (or even taken them to a vet's office to be scanned for microchips), I would personally say that the finder didn't make a good effort, but I'm not the judge.
Adding an additional problem to the mix, the original owner had already gotten another dog (dogs?) to replace the pugs, and now if she takes the pugs back, she'll have more dogs than her city allows her to have. I'm going to keep informed on what happens, and I'll post here if I find out.
(Later: we gave the pugs back to the original owner, and promised the newer owner we'd give her first dibs on the next small dog [pug, chihuahua, dachshund] we got in.)
As interesting as that situation is, it isn't the only one of its kind when it comes to microchips and pet ownership. We got another microchipped dog in, and the owner said something similar about it being missing for several months. While we were waiting for the owner to come in, another guy came in looking for the same dog. We told him it had a microchip that said the owner was someone else, and asked him how he had gotten the dog. He gave a name (we'll say it was "Mary") and said that Mary had given it to him. We told him we couldn't release the dog to him until we got the situation worked out, and he beat a suspiciously hasty retreat.
When the original owners came in, we told them that a "Mary" had apparently given the dog to the latest owner, and the original owners looked shocked. "Mary is our relative! We gave her the dog to babysit while we were on vacation, and she said it had ran off!"
Apparently Mary had some sort of grudge against the owners (or perhaps dog). And apparently the guy she had given the dog to was at least somewhat aware that all was not kosher in the way he received the dog. Last I heard, I think we just left the original owners to deal with Mary how they would.
Remember: collars can be lost...or deliberately removed! Microchips are like diamonds: forever. (Or if not forever, at least a step more permanent than collars.)
Only last small incident, not concerning microchips this time. We had an old lady come in yesterday, accompanied by her younger neighbor and her neighbor's daughter. They were looking for a dog for the old lady, who's old dog had died a week previous. (Interestingly, three separate neighbors had called asking about getting a dog for the old lady.) Anyway, they wanted to look at a chihuahua, and I was taking them to the "Get Acquainted" room so they could let it run around. As they went in, the old lady leaned toward me and said solemnly, "I'm a child."
I stared at her, not sure I had heard correctly, and if I had, wondering if it was some manifestation of the slight dementia that her neighbor had whispered to us the old lady had. I said, "Excuse me?" and the lady repeated, "I'm a child."
I still had a puzzled look on my face, and the old lady finally clarified by saying, "Before I married, my name was 'Child.'"
Oh! That's...nice. I gave a polite nod of still-puzzled understanding. The lady followed her neighbor into the room, and I shut the door behind them. I went to the front desk where I repeated the incident to our shelter mom, who laughed. "'Child' is the big name in her [small] town," she said. "If you're a Child, you're really someone. You were supposed to be impressed."
Oops. Oh well. I guess I've been working with animals too long, because as a general rule, I'm as impressed by names as a dog is.