A delighted dog owner who made a round trip of more than 200 miles from Wales was reunited with his stolen beagles after they were found wandering near Twyford and traced back to him through their microchips.
Wokingham Borough Council, whose animal wardens took in and identified one of the pair while a local vet helped with the other, is sharing the story to illustrate the value of being chipped – which is a legal requirement in England for dogs over eight weeks old.
Microchipping aids heart-warming reunion
When the authority called the owner, he was already in the area picking up his other dog, who had been handed in to the vet around the same time. That dog was microchipped, so the practice staff contacted him directly.
He had set off across the country with no idea that a second dog had showed up at the same time, but was delighted when the council shared the news and sent him home with not one, but two of his canine companions.
Although the beagles were stolen about three years ago, along with at least one more which is sadly yet to be found, they immediately recognised their former owner when he arrived to pick them up and were excited to go back to their warm and loving home.
The council’s animal warden said: “There was some confusion at first because we rang him to say we had his dog and he told us ‘I know, I’m actually picking him up right now’. Eventually we both realised this was a different dog that had also been stolen.
“The gentleman was absolutely elated when the penny dropped and I know the rest of his family were thrilled to bits as well. There’s no question that the dog we picked up recognised his old owner immediately – he became very sprightly for a nine-year-old, which is getting on a bit in dog years.”
Starting afresh after abandonment
The council, which handles up to 150 similar cases every year, has also recently helped to rehouse an abandoned eight-week-old puppy (pictured above) and an adult cocker spaniel, who is likely to have been the puppy’s mother as it was clear she had recently given birth.
The pair were found a day apart on the same street near Crowthorne and the female puppy, now named Pippa, had to be given antibiotics for an infection in her tail as someone had tried to dock it illegally by tying a band around it.
She soon improved and the pair were sent to separate rescue organisations which the council has links with, both specialising in the breed. Pippa is happily settled and will eventually learn agility and scent work from her new human “mum” alongside another cocker spaniel.
Pippa’s suspected mother was microchipped and an investigation confirmed she had previously been stolen but, by this point, her owner was no longer able to look after her. Although Pippa wasn’t chipped, the council was pleased to be able to find new homes for the pair.
The warden added: “Pippa was in good health considering she went through such a dramatic experience at a young age. Something like that can turn their world upside down but most dogs will come through it with the right environment and we make sure we provide them with that.
“We work with many rescue centres across the country and the welfare of the animals we take in is our number one priority at all times. It’s just so amazing to be able to make a difference.”
A valuable lesson for current and future owners
Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “Microchipping is extremely important, especially as dog theft has very sadly been on the increase.
“We’re so pleased to be able to help in these cases, and many more like it - but it wouldn’t be possible without this simple measure, which makes it so much easier to trace owners and get in touch with them when a beloved pet is found.
“As well as relieving the emotional burden on both families and their dogs, it saves public money by taking dogs out of our care as quickly as is safely possible. In every respect, it’s the responsible thing to do and such a small investment considering the huge benefits for your pet’s future safety and welfare.”
Owners are also legally required to keep the details on the chip up to date and, when out in public, dogs must wear identification clearly bearing the owner’s name, address and contact telephone number.
Since April this year the council has taken in 93 dogs, many believed to have been stolen, and in one recent month it dealt with 28 cases. It is believed that the rise in dog theft nationally was sparked by gangs cashing in on demand for puppies during covid lockdowns.
These gangs have no concern for the welfare of the animals they breed and sell, so anyone thinking of buying a puppy is urged to do so responsibly and follow advice issued by charities like the Dogs Trust.
Lost animals in Wokingham borough are dealt with by the council’s in-house team. For more information and advice on reporting an incident, visit our website.
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