It was a response the Humane Society of Portage County staff could hardly believe.
“When we called her, there was silence on the end of the phone,” Executive Director Jennifer Blum said. “The owner said, ‘His name is Jack, and he’s been missing for three years.’”Â Jack is a golden Labrador the Humane Society picked up Dec. 22 after receiving a call that he and a shepherd mix were wandering along Dewey Drive in the town of Dewey.Â Rarely do stray dogs picked up by the Humane Society of Portage County have owner-identifying microchips imbedded, so when staff members picked up two dogs last week, they weren’t expecting much.Â But the humane officers found a microchip in Jack, and used the unique code the chip contains to identify the owners, a family in western Wisconsin that Blum is keeping anonymous.Â ”She (the matriarch of the family) was just in disbelief,” Blum said.
The woman told Blum that she had let Jack out to go to the bathroom three years ago at their home near a campground, and he just never came back. She questioned neighbors, checked shelters and hung lost signs, but never got anywhere. This led her to believe that someone at the campground stole Jack, although there is no evidence to back that theory.Â The shelter has no information about where Jack was living since he disappeared, or where the shepherd mix came from. That dog remains at the Humane Society.Â Jack’s owner came to pick him up Dec. 23, but when she saw him, her tears of joy quickly turned into tears of sorrow. Weighing more than 80 pounds when he was taken, Jack was only a gaunt 40 pounds. He was so thin it was easy to count individual ribs, and he swayed back and forth from exhaustion even when sitting.Â ”She said ‘How could anybody do this to you?’” Blum said.
For Blum, the story is more than just a heartwarming tale. It is proof that microchips are worthwhile investments for pet owners.
Outfitting an animal with a microchip is still a relatively uncommon practice, Blum said, despite the ease and low cost. The chip, about the size of a grain of rice, is implanted under the skin in the animal’s neck. Each chip has a unique code of numbers and letters that can be scanned at a humane society or veterinarian and used to identify the animal’s owner.Â The humane society can implant the chip for $20, and then the owner must register with the manufacturer to be added to the universal database used to identify Jack.
Both Blum and the Jack’s owner were apprehensive at first about Jack going home, unsure how much of the family he would remember, if any. Turns out, a lot.Â ”She said the first night he was home he went to her husband’s side of the bed to wake up him to go outside,” Blum said, “which is exactly what he had done before.”