Here is a story worth reading if you have been considering whether or not to have a microchip inserted into your pet. Our five cats are all kept inside the house, and like nearly all cats, they are comfortable and safe and show no desire to venture outside. We were grateful that we had decided to have microchips inserted under their skin when two of them had random reactive moments and darted outside - one through the front door and one through a loose window screen. Like many animals who are dependent on people and well cared for, they froze in panic and were fairly easy to find. Finding lost pets is not easy, but microchips can help.
Years ago, I was moving to another state with my new husband and my beloved cat was unhappily confined to a carrier in the back of the car for several hours. When we stopped for fuel, I realized that I didn't have a leash or harness, so I released her at the side of an open field to make sure she was able to excrete the results of her meal from that morning. I turned my back and realized that I had no idea where she had gone. An hour later, guilt-ridden and nearly hysterical, I watched as my kind husband peered under the car and discovered her there, trembling and confused. Where would we have begun to look for her in this rural area among the farms and forests?
Sometimes we are unaware of how close our lost pets are. My brother’s wife had two cats who went outside and usually stayed in their yard. They had lived in Chicago for quite awhile when one of the cats – the adventurous one – wandered away one day and was gone for more than two weeks. Fortunately, their dog, a large Akita who had bonded with that particular cat, was able to locate him under some shrubbery in a yard within their immediate neighborhood. Bedraggled and half-starved, he was brought home.
When my sister couldn't find one of her family's chocolate labrador retrievers in their rural neighborhood in Alaska, her husband asked their other dog to go and find him. The missing dog was trapped under a neighbor's porch, unable to turn around and crawl out of the confined space he'd gotten himself into. Luckily, they had another dog capable of finding him, because his human family could not hear him.
Think about what might happen if you had a fire, flood, home invasion, or were required to evacuate on short notice. Would you want your companion animals to be left lost and afraid, wandering around in confusion wondering why you had abandoned them? Animals are often stolen from yards or parked cars, and may run away from friends and relatives who are pet sitting or not familiar with their needs and habits. Or, the trusting human lets the "trained" dog off the leash and is surprised when the dog bolts after a squirrel or runs into traffic and is killed or lost.
Animals don’t always find their way home if they are exposed to sudden noises or otherwise experience great fear or trauma. They panic just like we do, and they may hunker down or become trapped somewhere close to home, but unable to tell you where they are. Even animal communicators often refuse to do lost pet work. It is difficult to translate what the animal conveys, often at ground level, from the human viewpoint several feet higher, and I admit that my sketching skills are too pitiful to offer much guidance when your lost pet is not focused on the nearest street sign, but describes bushes, trees, and a single lane gravel road that, to us, could be anywhere.
Microchipping is a cost-effective way to allow the helpful person who finds your lost animal with a way to locate you, and it's certainly more efficient than papering your local area with hundreds of flyers. Than annual fee to register each of our cats with Home Again is less than $20.00, and the peace of mind is priceless.
A lost animal is not always the result of human irresponsibility. Sometimes larger forces are at work. Read the story of the Boston Terrier called Stubbs for a moment of hope and joy on this rainy day in Chicago, and give your own animals an extra hug when you return home to find them safe and sound and glad to see you. Happy endings make us all grateful for what we have and aware of what we have to lose.