Robichaux: A doggone good reunion – Microchipping brings stolen dog home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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This week, I’m sharing a heartwarming story I discovered from a social media video. It comes with a message all pet owners can learn from.

Demica Ford wasn’t expecting a call from the St. John Parish Animal Shelter or the heartfelt reunion that followed. Her sweet family dog, Leo, was stolen from a LaPlace backyard nearly six months earlier, and she had given up all hope of her children ever seeing their favorite companion again.

Luckily, Leo was equipped with a microchip. After he was turned into the St. John Sheriff’s Office Kennel the night of Jan. 23, Animal Shelter staff scanned him and located a microchip that had migrated to his lower right shoulder. The chip gave staff the owner’s information, in addition to an alert that Leo had been stolen back in August 2019.

Ford was in disbelief when she came to the shelter and saw Leo waiting for her, lively, healthy and ready to finally come home to his family. But the real tearjerker came when Ford and Leo arrived home.

Ford’s 9-year-old daughter sprang up from the sofa, jetted over to Leo and immediately wrapped her arms around him as she burst into happy tears. “I missed you so much, Leo,” she repeated, burying her face into his fur. Leo licked her face in return, letting her know he was just as happy to see her.

Leo went missing from a relative’s house over the summer. The back gate was closed when he disappeared, and the family discovered someone broke into the backyard and stole him.

It was clear Leo was taken care of in the six months he was gone, according to Ford, but it didn’t change the hurt her children felt. Leo became part of the family six years ago, when he was the puppy no one wanted. He was the runt of the litter, and Ford saw he just needed a bit of TLC to blossom into a beautiful, intelligent dog.

“As time went on, I basically told my kids that the dog was gone and he wasn’t coming back,” Ford said. “They were devastated because he’s really a sweet dog. He was not abused, but it’s like someone kidnapped my child and took care of him. It affected my kids in ways I didn’t even know.”

Having recently lost my beautiful dog, Gracie, to old age, I know just how deeply dogs become engrained in a family. She was an escape artist at times. S ince she weighed only six pounds, even the smallest openings in the fence were large enough for her to squeeze through. I would have been devastated if her life ended while she was lost and alone.

Gracie wasn’t microchipped because I didn’t know any better, but because of stories like Leo’s, I know my next pet will be.

The St. John the Parish Animal Shelter microchips dogs and cats of all sizes for just $15. That’s a small price for peace of mind.

The St. John Animal Shelter was able to contact Ford within 45 minutes of picking up Leo because of the information the chip contains.

“I am a firm believer that everyone should do it,” Ford said. “Look at the big payoff. My dog was stolen, and now he’s here. That should be a living testimony for everyone. It’s the best thing ever. I’m truly grateful. I can’t say that enough.”

For more information on microchipping, call 985-651-7387 or visit Friends of the St. John Animal Shelter on Facebook.