Together again

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Macie Walker didn’t know if she would ever see her pet Pomeranian again after the dog ran away from her house two weeks ago. But thanks to modern technology, Walker and her friend Toby are together again.

Toby is implanted with a small microchip located just beneath the animal’s skin, a microchip that can be scanned to quickly bring up information about the dog. Shortly after the Pomeranian broke away from Walker, the dog was found and taken to the Andalusia Animal Shelter. There, staff at the shelter scanned the dog and were able to use the information to reunite Walker with Toby.

“I was visiting my daughter in Panama City and she got the dog for me,” Walker said. “I brought him back home and had let him out of the house to go to the bathroom when he ran down the street away from me. After a few days, I got a call from the pound and they said they had scanned the dog and learned he came from Panama City.

“So they called my daughter and she called me and I was able to get him back.”

Christin Ball, supervisor at the Andalusia Animal Shelter, said the facility has had a microchip scanner for six months, but this was the first time it had been used to reunite a lost dog with its owner.

“It’s definitely a good thing to use to find an owner for a lost dog,” Ball said. “It’s not a big or bulky scanner; it picks up the chip within a matter of seconds and gives you a code. You then call the company who made the chip, and they can associate that code with either the owner’s information or information about the shelter the animal was adopted through.”

Ball said the shelter in Panama City implants microchips in all the animals it gives out through adoption, which made it easy to discover that Toby came from that shelter and was originally adopted by Walker’s daughter.

“I called in the information after we scanned the dog and (the company) was able to give me the adoptee’s name,” she said. “Here at the Andalusia shelter, we automatically scan any dogs as they come in. Now, we can contact the owner within a few hours. It’s a great program.”

The Andalusia Area Humane Society provided the scanner to the Andalusia Animal Shelter.

Walker said Toby is a “sweet little puppy” that she keeps on a chain now when he goes outside. She was impressed by the technology that allowed her to reunite with her furry friend.

“The chip isn’t much bigger than a fingernail, and you can’t even see it under the dog’s skin and fur,” she said. “The information on the chip is still in my daughter’s name, but I’m going to get it switched over to me soon.”

Walker, who has lived in Alabama her entire life and moved back to Andalusia about a year ago, also has a Chihuahua-poodle mix named Tiny.

“I’m going to get a chip put in her too,” she said. “But she doesn’t ever leave the house, so I might not need it.”