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Some kind of miracle

Was it an Internet miracle, or a Christmas one? Or does that even matter now that Willis, a Clumber spaniel who went missing just before Christmas last year, is back home?

Willis belonged to Karen Martin, of Portsmouth, Va. Four days before Christmas last year, she went out to her back yard to find him gone. After a year of posting fliers and searching, she’d all but given up hope of finding him.

Little did she know, he was hundreds of miles from home, and had a date with death, metro columnist Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post reported last week.

Picked up by animal control officers in Charles County more than a month ago, Willis had been taken to the Tri County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, Md.  Shelter workers scanned Willis for an identification chip, but, though he had one, it was not detected. Shelter workers put a photograph of the  7-year-old dog on the facility’s “at-risk” list, meaning euthanasia was ahead.

The at-risk list, including a photo of each dog, is e-mailed to animal rescue groups and other dog lovers around the country in hopes that someone might be willing to adopt the animals listed before they are euthanized.

Terry Walker, an office manager for a veterinary hospital in Calvert County, was one of those who received it and recognized the dog pictured as a Clumber spaniel.

After an Internet search, Walker found an organization called Clumber Spaniel Rescue of America, and forwarded the dog’s photograph to the three contacts whose names were listed.

One of them ended up in the spam folder of Sally Day, of Washington Crossing, Pa. — a friend of Willis’ owner, Karen Martin.

She said she was deleting her spam when something told her to open this one.

“A voice said, ‘Open it,’ and the hair stood up on the back of my neck,” Day recalled. “The e-mail was from a stranger, and there was a photograph attached. I instantly thought I recognized the dog. I said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Karen’s boy.’ ”

Martin called her friend Day, then e-mailed her the photo, and Willis is back home now — a bit the worse for wear from his journey of more than 200 miles. He had an injured eye, a respiratory infection and a skin allergy that had resulted in scratching off patches of hair.

Martin, who now lives in Williamsburg, said she expected this Christmas to be a lot more joyful than last year’s.

(Photo: By Jay Paul / from the Washington Post)

Comments

Comment from Sam
Time December 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

What a great story! It is so sad how our pups can end up so far from home and how quickly things can go wrong. Chips don’t always scan – they aren’t the absolute answer to recovery. Thank God luck was on Willis’ side.

Sam

Comment from Julie
Time April 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Thank god he was found in time. Micro chips can move around. My friends boxers micro chip moved, I hope they scan the whole dogs all over now a few times.

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