When nine-month-old Golden Retriever Sheba was brought to Battersea, the rescue checked her chip’s details – to find out she had been reported as stolen last June.
The pup had been stolen in Enfield, North London, in broad daylight. Owner Neha Popat had left her outside a shop with the store manager while she was inside; snatching her took moments, and it is believed Sheba was then sold on her new owners, who eventually surrendered there to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
Neha, who had lost all hope of ever seeing her dog again, said, “As soon as I realised it was Battersea calling me, I just knew it was about Sheba. I felt quite overwhelmed and so ecstatic that not only had they found Sheba but she was unharmed. I came to collect Sheba as soon as I could, and it was really emotional to see her again.
“I think Sheba was a bit confused at first, as she’s still quite young and spent four months with someone else. I’m so glad she is home with us now.”
We deal with all emotions, from people who are very upset at losing their pet and are asking lots of questions about what to do, to those who are absolutely overjoyed that we have their missing dog or cat.
Sheba wasn’t the only dog to be reunited through Battersea: every year, their Lost Dogs & Cats Line reunites over 1000 lost animals with their owners every year. Shirley Smith, one of the Lost Dogs & Cats Line Administrators, witnessed some peculiar cases.
“We’ve had some unusual arrivals – everything from dogs being found on buses to cats being found in Royal Mail postal vans,” she says. “The reunites that really stand out to me though are those when a dog or cat has been missing for a long time, and finally end up at Battersea for whatever reason.
“We deal with all emotions, from people who are very upset at losing their pet and are asking lots of questions about what to do, to those who are absolutely overjoyed that we have their missing dog or cat. It’s certainly a roller coaster of emotions working on the Lost Dogs and Cats Line but those incredible, happy moments when you see a dog rush into the arms of its relieved owner make the job so worthwhile.”
With pet theft on the rise, Battersea took the chance to stress out the importance of microchipping your dog, which has been mandatory since April 2016, and keeping the details on it up to date. In September 2016, it was reported that 12 strays risked being put to sleep every day in the UK due to outdated microchip details.
Shirley adds, “If we have correct microchip details and can get in touch with owners, we can reunite a missing dog or cat within hours, saving owners a lot of heartache and saving their pets the stress of having to go into the unfamiliar environment of kennels or a cattery.
“If it wasn’t for Sheba’s microchip, we would never have known that she was stolen and would never have been able to reunite her with her original owner.”
While microchipping your dog is mandatory, there is a loophole: rescues, shelters, pounds and vets have no obligation to scan for a microchip when they take in a dog or, in the case of vets, when they register a new patient. This has led to heartbreaking cases of microchipped pets being put to sleep or rehomed, and the Vets Get Scanning campaign is looking to change that.
Main image by Battersea.