Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If Animals Could Talk...

Have you ever wondered where an animal has been before coming into your life? What happened in her past? How did she end up homeless as a stray? We never get those answers except for this case. Buttons had quite a story to tell and tell it she did, all with the help of her microchip. We were able to piece together her entire life as well as how she ended up on the streets and homeless.

On September 17, 2008, Buttons was found wandering the streets of Clark, NJ. Animal control picked her up but let her go to a foster home for her stray hold so she did not have to go to the shelter. She came into our care the next day, September 18, 2008. Turns out that was her 8th birthday. A birthday which was spent hiding under the kitchen table due to stress and trauma. We knew it was her birthday because of Buttons' microchip. The person to whom the microchip was registered was contacted. She had purchased Buttons from a pet store as a puppy. She said she had given Buttons away in 2003 to an elderly person but she had no additional information. The microchip registration had never been updated to reflect the new home. Dead end except for being able to get Buttons' date of birth and her actual name of Buttons, which is part of the microchip registration information.

Although Buttons was not at all in bad shape, she was taken to our groomer to be prettied up. We noted on her Petfinder.com page that her grooming had been compliments of Reigning Cats and Dogs Salon in Westfield, NJ.

On September 27, 2008, Buttons was adopted by a young couple who had just purchased their first home and were ready to add a dog to their family. They were looking for an easy, more mature dog since this would be their first dog. That most certainly was Buttons!

Shortly after Buttons was adopted, the groomer called. She had received a phone call from a man named Dennis who wanted to talk to somebody about Buttons. Oh my. Buttons had just been adopted. Was this an owner coming forward looking for her? Why did he call our groomer?

Dennis had found Buttons on Petfinder.com. He had been to every shelter in the area looking for her. He was not computer literate but had someone help him look on Petfinder. Because we knew Buttons' real name, Dennis was able to locate her on the Internet and called the groomer mentioned in Buttons' bio. Dennis was Buttons' neighbor. Buttons' mom, an elderly woman and dear friend of Dennis and his wife, had passed away on September 11, 2008. Dennis and his wife had been caring for Buttons and her step-sister Me-Sue, another shih tzu, in their home next door. Dennis had found a home that would take both of the bonded dogs. But the deceased woman's daughter intervened, told Dennis to mind his own business, that they were "just dogs" and refused to allow Dennis to place the dogs. Both dogs and the cat suddenly disappeared.

Dennis was able to provide us with the previous owner's name and the name of the vet she used. With this information we were able to obtain Buttons' FULL vet records as her first owner had used the same vet.

While Dennis was thrilled to know Buttons was safe and in a home, he was desperate to find Me-Sue and asked for our help. We posted information about Me-Sue on rescue message boards but heard nothing. Later that night I felt compelled to check the Petfinder classifieds where people can post strays they find. A black and white shih tzu matching Me-Sue's description had been found in a park 10 miles away in Edison, NJ. I emailed the woman. It turned out to be a rescue group and they were having an adoption day that weekend. Dennis and his wife went to the adoption day and positively identified Me-Sue. Me-Sue was adopted shortly thereafter. The cat, unfortunately, was never found.

At this point, it was very obvious what had happened and when confronted, the daughter fessed up that she did in fact dump Buttons in Clark, NJ and Me-Sue in Edison, NJ thinking nobody would be the wiser if the dogs were split up a distance away from each other. She was not aware that Buttons had a microchip that would blow the whistle on her. Animal control pressed charges and the daughter was fined $1,000 for animal cruelty and abandonment.

The bottom line is, all because of a long forgotten microchip an entire life's story unfolded, a guilty person was punished, and we are able to tell Buttons' tale for her. Sadly, her happily ever after has once again eluded her. She was returned 1 year later on September 14, 2009 due to the husband in her new home having developed asthma with the loss of his job and therefore being at home around Buttons more. No job = no health insurance to test for allergies so they felt they needed to assume Buttons was the cause and had no choice but to return her. Fortunately, her first day back in foster care was nothing like her first day a year ago. She had been exceptionally well cared for over the past year and was not at all traumatized from having been dumped out of a car all alone in a strange place. Other than a little initial loss of appetite from the expected stress of yet another change in her life and missing the people she had bonded with, Buttons seems happy. But her story is not over yet. Maybe this time her next new home will be her furever home.

People always think animals end up homeless because there is something wrong with the animal. Clearly Buttons' story shows how animals become the victims of human-created circumstances when there is nothing wrong with the animals at all. Truly, there is nothing wrong with Buttons. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved, meticulously house trained and trustworthy dog and she deserves nothing but the best.

Button's 9th birthday in her foster home on September 18, 2009