Homeward Bound: How Microchips Can Help Reunite Families

These stories are good reminders to protect your pets by getting them microchipped.

Cheeto’s microchip brought him back to his human after he escaped through a backyard fence. By: Sharri Levine Boyett

It’s hard to remain hopeful about finding a missing pet.

But microchipping brings families new hope of being reunited with their missing pets, even years down the road. The tiny chip, implanted between an animal’s shoulders, stores guardian contact information that can be retrieved by a vet, pet supply store or animal shelter.

Thanks to microchipping, Butter the cat and Cheeto the dog were reunited with their humans.

Butter’s Story

When Mia Coffin adopted her cat, Butter, she microchipped him immediately.

“I just adored him and I wanted to cover all my bases,” Mia said. “[Microchips] are only $20, so why not?”

Following the adoption, Butter was a completely indoor cat. Then one day, the family of Mia’s roommate visited. As they came in, they mistakenly let Butter out of the duplex.

As soon as she realized he was missing, Mia searched for him for hours, but to no avail. “I gave flyers to all of my neighbors and went door-to-door a couple more times over the next month, but by then, I was worried he must have been hit by a car,” Mia said.

Sometimes, Mia would get calls from people who had seen her signs, but it was never Butter. And eventually, Mia and her dogs moved away from Austin.

Butter was missing for 2 years. By: Mia Coffin

Butter’s Microchip

Almost 2 years later, Mia’s phone rang. It was a vet in Austin who had just scanned Butter’s microchip.

When Mia arrived at the vet, she was told that Butter had been living with another family who claimed to have searched for the guardian when they’d found the cat. When the vet found the microchip during a checkup, he decided to call the number on it.

“Turns out, it was the family I shared the duplex in Austin with. I had seen them every day,” she said. “Apparently, they had gotten attached.”

Mia declined the family’s request to keep Butter. She had missed him terribly and was ready to bring him home. “I had completely given up hope,” she said. “When you lose a pet, you think about them every day. And then, all of a sudden, he’s back — I was just so happy.”

Butter had remembered Mia’s dogs and weaved in and out of their legs when they were reunited. He quickly adjusted to his old life. “That was 3 years ago now,” Mia said. “He’s been really lazy and happy ever since. And now he has a kitten friend, Neelix, who has revitalized him. Neelix has a microchip, too.”

Butter and Neelix, reunited. By: Mia Coffin

Cheeto’s Story

Sharri Levine Boyett had rescued Cheeto, an orange pomeranian mix, when she found him living with a feral cat colony.

Around 6 years later, she had successfully treated him for heartworms, microchipped him and acclimated him to life as an indoor dog. “He was a spoiled little baby who never went far from me,” Sharri said. “He was a well-cared-for pet.”

In July 2010, Sharri let Cheeto outside. In the few minutes he was alone, he slipped out of the fence to chase deer. “My yard was fully fenced, and he was microchipped and wearing a collar and tags,” Sharri said. “But he’s so small, he could squeeze out of the fence. It happened in a matter of minutes.”

Cheeto had been rescued after he had lived in a feral cat colony. By: Sharri Levine Boyett

A Good Samaritan Finds Cheeto

Sharri said she covered the area in signs and even hired someone to help her search for Cheeto. Living in a heavily wooded area, she was worried that he would not survive on his own.

Almost 1 year later, Sharri received a call from a vet who said he had Cheeto in his office. A trucker had found him in the middle of the road, 15 miles away from Sharri’s home. The vet had scanned Cheeto’s microchip and found Sharri’s information.

Sharri said that Cheeto went about business as usual back at home, quickly readjusting to life with his siblings. “Sadly, I’ll never know where he was or who he was with during that time,” Sharri said. “The good news is that he was completely unscathed. He’s become somewhat of a spokesperson for microchipping — I call him my ‘boomerang’ dog.”

Microchips

While microchips are an effective tool in reuniting pets with their families, they must be scanned in order to be useful. At the moment, microchips do not have GPS capabilities.

If you find a stray or lost pet, always visit a vet to scan for a microchip before assuming there is no one searching for the animal.

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