Mystery of Two Wayward Dogs Solved by Microchips

One dog thought to be a stray wound up on a road trip to San Diego. Another dog missing for seven months ended up in the care of an East County family. Thanks to a painless scan of a microchip implant, both were reunited with their families over the weekend.

“They’re both great reasons to microchip your animals,” said Lt. Loren Bunnell, San Diego County Department of Animal Services.

Charlie, a 2-year-old Border Collie, apparently liked to roam a bit from her Fresno home. She wandered into a nearby campground  a week or so ago and befriended a San Diego boy and his mother, Bunnell said. They thought she was a stray since she’d been roaming around their camp site for three days.

The mother and son decided to rescue the seemingly stray dog, setting off for their North San Diego County home with Charlie along for the ride.  They turned her into the County shelter in Carlsbad last Tuesday, the lieutenant said.

Back in Fresno, the Richards family was frantic. They’d adopted Charlie less than a year ago. They contacted local police and reported her stolen.

After a quick scan, shelter staff called Charlie’s family who arranged to pick up Charlie on Saturday. The Richards drove six hours to get her, and they were there when the shelter opened at 9:30 a.m.

“They were shocked but elated. They were just happy to get her back. They thought they would never see her again,” Bunnell said. “As you can imagine, it was a joyful reunion. The dog was jumping and yelping. She was very happy, and the family was in tears.”

Fortunately for Charlie,  the family was willing  to drive 12 hours round trip to pick up their beloved family pet. However, the Department of Animal Services recommends that people turn lost animals into the nearest animal shelter, particularly when out of town, because it offers the best chance for a reunion.

In the East County, a sickly Pekingese named Gibbs wound up at the shelter in Bonita last week. The people who turned Gibbs in said he’d shown up at their home over the weekend, then got into some garbage and became sick, Bunnell said. Gibbs had been missing for seven months.

The dog  did have a microchip, but unfortunately, it was not registered to his family. Not having an owner’s name did not stop determined shelter staff members who checked with the microchip company’s maker. The maker told staff the chip had been licensed to a veterinary clinic in Alpine.

The Alpine veterinarian asked shelter staff to send over a photo of Gibbs and they recognized him and gave shelter staff his family’s contact information.

The Millers were happy to be reunited with Gibbs. They picked him up and took him straight to a veterinary hospital to continue treatment for his illness where he is doing much better, the lieutenant said.

“When you don’t think you’re going to need a microchip, that’s when you’re going to need it,” Bunnell said. “Hopefully, hearing these stories will inspire people to get their animals microchipped.”

Microchip pet identification is available to dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and horses that are at least 8 weeks old at the County shelters in San Diego, Carlsbad and Bonita on Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. A one-time fee of $10 includes the chip and national registration. To learn more about microchipping, visit the San Diego County Department of Animal Services page here.  



Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact