Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

When your pet goes missing

When I moved to Boston in 1976 I came with two friends, my Irish Setters. My female setter was a rescue dog from a couple in Orange County that couldn't keep her because she was allergic to chickens and they lived on a chicken farm. True story. My male setter was the most beautiful Irish Setter you have ever seen. I bought him from a breeder in County Mayo in Ireland, and he had all the conformation of a British Irish Setter. He was more refined, smaller, and so much prettier than the big blocky American setters from that time period. Plus his feathering was so long it reached the ground, and his color was the deepest rust, a color you don't often see on American setters, who are more orange.

We lived in a row house in a very lovely neighborhood with a small fenced in back yard. Behind us were BU buildings, and next door were very fancy and expensive homes. We lived 2 houses down from John Silber, for all you BU grads. Believe me when I tell you that this is an area that is very well protected by the town police, the BU police, and a neighborhood private police force. We were very safe and we knew it.

One day I put the dogs in the back yard for a little R&R, and went inside to do some work. When I came out, Kelev Adom, my male setter was gone. Ginge, the female was still there, but Kelev was missing. He was on a run, and there was no way he could have escaped on his own. Besides being chained to the overhead run, there was a high chain link fence that he could not leap over.
Someone had stolen him.

Now Kelev was a roamer. We use to say that he had a funky-smelling woman in Kansas and he was trying to get there. If you gave him an opportunity to run, he was gone in a flash. He ran far and he ran free. But again, no way could he have escaped from the yard.

I was hysterical with worry. I didn't have any idea of who would have stolen him and I was worried that he would not be cared for or loved. Or that he might end up in some lab as a test subject. So I did what was available in those days if you lost a pet. I put up fliers with his photo and his contact information on every post and mailbox for miles. I contacted every vet's office, every shelter, and even the big MSPCA shelter in downtown Boston. I called over and over again, but nobody ever saw him.

Weeks went by and I was giving up hope day by day. I missed him terribly. I had raised him from a tiny puppy and he was the first dog I had ever owned that wasn't a family dog. I kept calling the MSPCA and about 3 weeks into his departure they said they had an Irish setter that matched his description but the dog had a collar and tags with a different owner name and address.

About 3 days after that call, I was at school when one of the local students brought in a chicken. I know. This was in downtown Everett, a very industrial area, and not a place where a chicken would ever be found. We had no clue what to do with the chicken, so I called the MSPCA and they told me to bring the chicken down.

I rode in the car with a friend driving, holding this ridiculous chicken. When we got to the MSPCA, we handed over the chicken, and just as an aside I asked if they had an Irish Setter. They did, the same dog with the different tags. I asked to see him, and it was Kelev Adom. He was happy to see me, and I was in tears I was so happy to see him. But the MSPCA needed proof that he was my dog because of the tags. I had to go home, pick up his vet records and a bunch of photos of him, plus his papers, and bring them back to the MSPCA to prove my ownership.

I took Kelev home that night, and the MSPCA prosecuted the guy whose names were on the tags for stealing a dog. That's illegal in MA. Who knew?

This was a terrible point in my life, although Kelev certainly achieved more notariety as he got older and less capable of finding his way home after a romp. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out yesterday about the web site Find Toto.

Find Toto provides, for a fee, a really interesting service. Using your town's reverse 911 directory they will call all the neighbors with a message about your missing pet. It isn't cheap, but this has got to be better than putting up fliers that are ignored. Or at least a decent adjunct to the other methods of finding your pet.

I don't have any affiliation with this company other than to think it's an interesting new technology that could help people to find their missing pets.

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Blogger Rhiannon said...

Thank you for posting this! I have a kitty who went missing about 4 years ago and I'm still hopeful he'll come home one day.

But, also, the dog my parents had when I was a baby was stolen. He was a beautiful Maltese, who was nice enough to clean his own piddles up with toilet paper when my mom put him in the bathroom while they were out. And, apparently, he didn't even mind that an obnoxious baby girl loved to pull on his tail and hug him REALLY hard.

28/2/08 7:38 PM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

What a great service! I certainly would not mind getting a call about a neighbor's lost pet, and would use this if I needed to. Thanks for the heads-up

28/2/08 9:04 PM  

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