For Cedar, a two-year-old German shepherd stolen from his family, the “chips” fell just as planned.
Last month, Deputy Marshall Steve Ryan found Cedar in a snow-covered ditch on the outskirts of Hugo, Colorado - nearly 2,000 miles from her home in Southwest Ranches, north of Miami, Florida. Ryan whisked the malnourished and injured dog to Dr. Leesa McCue at Eastern Colorado Veterinary Services in nearby Limon. McCue immediately scanned the pet for a microchip.
The Peterson family was shocked and overjoyed to get the call that Cedar had been found. “I immediately cried,” Tamara Peterson told the Miami Herald. It had been nearly two years to the day since Cedar, the youngest of the family’s four dogs, was abducted from their backyard in May 2017.
Peterson suspected that someone had hopped their fence to snatch the then four-month-old puppy. The family posted flyers with Cedar’s photos around town, searched exhaustively and even hired a detective to find her. Around the time Cedar went missing, flyers for many other missing pets were plastered throughout the community. It is still not clear how Cedar wound up so far from home and for how long she was alone.
Following a three-week medical recovery, Cedar was flown home last Saturday courtesy of Wings of Rescue, an animal charity organization known for evacuating pets from disaster zones. The Peterson kids, Chloe and Chase, and their dad, Doug, petted and hugged Cedar as they reunited on a Ft. Lauderdale Airport tarmac. Tamara said the family plans to take Cedar swimming when she’s doing better.
“Miracles do happen, especially when you microchip your pet,” Wings of Rescue wrote about Cedar on its Facebook page.
Cedar was lucky to have such a loving, persistent and thoughtful family. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of pets arriving at U.S shelters are microchipped making their chances for a sweet family reunion slim.
Many pet parents who get their pets microchipped don’t know that microchips are not GPS tracking devices. Rather, they are radio-frequency identification implants that provide a permanent ID for pets. For their information to be retrievable, microchips must be registered in a national database. Pet parents should update contact information including address and phone number as necessary. Of course, the information can only be retrieved when scanned - which depends entirely on the integrity (and resourcefulness) of the person finding the lost pet.
Established in 1996, HomeAgain Microchipping and Pet Recovery Service recently reached a milestone of 2,000,000 pets returned. HomeAgain enlists a legion of veterinary clinics, animal shelters and individual volunteers nationwide who’ve signed up to receive email alerts about lost pets in their neighborhoods. On-call support is available as is financial assistance to transport pets who’ve been found more than 500 miles from home.
There’s no escaping a world where loss can happen so randomly and predators lay in wait to tear pets away from their families. But our technological advances in pet identification could help the chips fall ours - and out pet’s - way.