By Lori C.
This was going to be a fun story about licensing and microchipping, with pictures of cute animals talking, but instead it’s going to be a true story. Many years ago, I had a wonderful dog named Hodinky, who I got when she was 8 weeks old and was a stumbling furball of cuteness. She would follow me everywhere and she loved going on trips. She also had this uncanny knack for being able to read my emotions and to react to them.
So when I went through a painful divorce, she was truly the one who brought me comfort and happiness. We were inseparable and we took off on a new life adventure together, moving to California from the east coast. There was no way I’d leave my best friend behind.
Time went by, I met a great person and we became a family of two humans, a dog and a cat. Life was great again, with trips to the beach and beyond. And then the 4th of July happened. We knew that there was going to be a big fireworks display at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, so we decided to go see it. We left Hody (short for Hodinky) at home, figuring that it would be less frightening than the fireworks display. She had doggie door access to the yard so she could come and go whenever she wanted.
When we returned home from the fireworks display, the neighborhood kids were setting off bottle rockets and firecrackers right in front of our house and Hody was nowhere to be found. One of the boards in our fence had been pulled loose and all we can surmise is that she was so scared from the sounds that she pulled it loose and got out.
You can’t imagine the sick feeling you get when you know something is wrong. We looked everywhere. We went door to door in our neighborhood, we drove the neighborhood calling for her and continued to widen our search. We did this for days and no luck.
On July 5th, I called the area shelters to see if someone had brought her in, thinking they could just look to see if she was in the system. Back then, I knew nothing about animal shelters and I had no idea that the 5th of July is one of the busiest days of the year because of lost pets. Shelters get overwhelmed with lost animals because so many animals are frightened by the noises and run from their homes. The national average for animals being returned to their owners from municipal shelters is only six percent.
I spent weeks checking the shelters on a daily basis, going down to see if my dog had been brought in, either alive or dead. Hundreds of Lost Dog posters were put up, offering a reward. I visited all the local veterinarians’ offices to see if someone had brought in a new pet dog that might be her. I even contacted an organization that specialized in finding lost pets. In the end, I never found her.
Not knowing what happened to her is the absolute worst part. It haunts you for a long time. I’ll never know if she was hit by a car or taken in by a good family who thought she was a stray. I’ll never know if she had a happy life or if something terrible happened to her. And I’ll always feel that I let her down.
Even worse, is that all of this could have been prevented if I had gotten her licensed and microchipped. It’s so easy to do and significantly increases the chance that you will get your pet back. I had a thousand excuses for putting it off, saying I’ll take care of it when I have the time. If you love your pet - dog or cat - DON’T WAIT! Get them licensed and microchipped now so you won’t have to go through this experience. The 4th of July is right around the corner.
You’ll find more information on getting your pet licensed on our website at:
For information on microchipping:
Preparing for the 4th of July Fireworks
Here are some simple things you can also do to reduce the risk of losing your pet over the holiday:
License and Microchip your pet.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification.
Keep your pet inside the house for the night.
If you will be away, consider having someone pet sit for you or board your pet.
Make sure your fence is secure - no loose boards and no other way out.