Saturday, August 10, 2002

Fla. dog lost in '96 found here

By Mike Pulfer,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A 13-year-old dog that had been missing from her Florida home for six years has been reunited with her original family, thanks to a West Side animal lover, a Dent veterinarian and a microchip under the dog's skin.

        Pooh Bear, a 6-pound, black Pomeranian, as a puppy was permanently identified with a chip implanted under her skin between her shoulder blades.

        “It was real exciting” to find the implant, said Dr. Cheryl Devine of Oak Crest Animal Hospital. When lost dogs are brought in, “you always hope they'll have a chip. But you never expect them to have one.”

        A woman found the dog July 5 on a busy street near her home.

        “She was dirty and had been out for a while,” Ms. Devine said. “It was clear she was lost.”

        Pooh Bear's owner, Bambi Lesne, of Panama City, Fla., said she was heartbroken when the dog disappeared in 1996. “She went everywhere with us — she was like one of my children,” she said.

        Ms. Devine scanned the chip and gave the identification number to the woman, identified only as Peggy. The dog was registered at an animal shelter in Florida.

        On July 17, the woman, whom Ms. Devine called “a true animal champion,” flew the dog to Birmingham, Ala., where she met with Ms. Lesne to deliver the dog.

        Pooh Bear has new gray hairs on her muzzle and a new scar on her forehead. Since her return, she has had an operation for a hernia but is otherwise healthy and happy to be home, Ms. Lesne said.

        She said the dog remembered her and her family and quickly returned to her old habits, including snuggling into backpacks.

        “When I got home that evening, she saw my daughter Codi and howled with joy. ... It gave me chill bumps.”

        Ms. Lesne said she had no theories about Pooh's life over the past six years. “She's not talking,” the owner said.

        While most dogs do not have microchips in their backs, the implant procedure is becoming more popular, Ms. Devine said.

        Average cost is $45 to $75, depending on registration fees.

        Julie Moscov, executive director at Tattoo-a-Pet, a Fort Lauderdale company that specializes in pet registrations, said microchips are less effective than some people believe because not all scanners are capable of reading all chips, which are supplied by varying manufacturers.

        Veterinarians began implanting identification chips in pets about five years ago.


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