It’s a tale as old as Jack London’s “Lassie, Come Home” where a pet finally makes its way back to the family that loves her.
During a storm on the last day of September in 2019, a pit bull named Honey Nut Cheerios bolted from the yard. She was not wearing a collar.
Owners Dave and Christine Shuck combed the streets of the Lykins neighborhood to no avail – the one shining hope was that Honey had been microchipped.
“Microchipping is so important,” said Tori Fugate, Chief Communications Officer for KC Pet Project. “Every pet that we adopt out is microchipped, and we offer it at a discount to all of our pets that are reunited with their owners. On top of that, we register the chip for them and absorb that cost just to make sure that pet’s information is on the chip. To date, we’ve adopted out 6,319 pets, so that is a lot of animals in our community who now have microchips.”
For the month of August, the total intake of pets at KC Pet Project that were stray, from the public, or were brought in by Animal Services was 662. Of that number, there were 50 that were microchipped, resulting in 29 of those pets being reunited with their owners. Of the 21 that were microchipped but not reunited, two were signed over for readoption, five were not claimed after contact, and 14 owners had not updated their contact information or contact was not successful.
“So, based on this alone, we were able to contact 36 owners successfully out of 662,” Fugate continued. “As you can see, we have a lot of work to do with getting more identification on pets, whether it be through microchipping or ID tags. We get a lot of microchipped pets with information that is not current, voicemail boxes are full, or the person may have rehomed the pet to someone else. Our Animal Services team has started doing free tagging events where we give out free pet ID tags with their name and phone number on them. We also have started doing community drive-thru clinics where we offer low cost vaccinations, microchips, KCMO pet licenses, and ID tags.”
The Shucks had raised Honey and her brother Magellan since birth, having fostered their pregnant mother through KC Pet Project six years ago. Her sweet disposition and small size made it hard to know that out of their care, she was facing a lot of unknowns.
“I felt sick when the darkness rolled in and the storm intensified,” Christine recalled of that day she was lost. “She was so afraid of thunder.”
But they never gave up hope she could find her way back home; Christine searched numerous lost pet postings and websites looking for Honey until it was part of her daily routine.
Then on August 10, a call finally came. Honey had been found and was being held by Gladstone Animal Control. The good news was that during her absence, Honey had found a loving owner that took her to the dog park every day; she would still be with him except that once again, Honey bolted during a storm and was lost.
“The woman who called me from the Gladstone shelter described me as ‘hysterical’ and that was pretty accurate, when I heard she was found and was safe and alive,” Christine said. “Honey was so incredibly happy to see us, she made little cries of joy. She’s normally a quiet, reserved dog, but she remembered us, no doubt about that.”
Across the Northeast, posts on Facebook and NextDoor, and simple posters on telephone poles show the number of pets lost or found in the area.
Involved in animal rescue, Tiffany Sykes has a microchip reader and is a moderator for the Northeast KC MO Lost & Found Pets Facebook group. Along with Northeast residents Eugenia Castro and Jessica Potts, she volunteers to scan found pets in hopes of returning them to their owners.
“I’d say we scan between five to 10 [pets] a week just in the Northeast area alone,” Sykes said. “It’s 50/50 whether they have chips. That mostly depends on if the found pet was adopted from a shelter or not. If they aren’t chipped, we take them to KCPP and post on all the social media sites in hopes to get them home.”
KC Pet Project, at 7077 Elmwood Ave., offers microchipping for $25 per pet. Appointments are not necessary and chipping is done during regular shelter hours, Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. Call 816-683-1383 for more information. To search for lost pets, go to www.foundanimals.com.