All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Update Your Pets' Michrchips!!!

Not too long ago, a big, handsome, “senior” Labrador Retriever was found roaming the streets of Orange County.  A Good Samaritan rescued the dog from the dangerous situation, and temporarily brought him to his house.  During this time, he noticed that the Lab barked in what he considered an aggressive manner when other dogs were near, so when he took the dog to the animal shelter, he indicated to the staff that he had observed this behavior.  As a consequence, the dog was labeled “aggressive” and would not be placed up for adoption if the owner was not located.

But there was good news!  The big, yellow, smiling Labrador had a microchip!  The shelter’s office staff was thrilled and attempted to get contact information, but found that there were three different “owners” connected to the chip—one was the puppy mill where the dog was bred, the other two “owners” did not respond to calls or letters. 

For ten days the dog sat, confined only to his kennel because he had been labeled “aggressive.”  He watched, cold and alone, as other dogs were taken out for walks, pet by volunteers and potential adopters, or retrieved by owners.  No one came for him.

The shelter staff slated him for euthanasia on the eleventh day. 

Enter Labs & More Rescue.  A volunteer from this organization (a self-described pushover for big, goofy, yellow Labs) had originally seen the dog—who she named “Barney”—a few days earlier.  Even though the shelter staff had advised her that the dog was too aggressive to be placed, something told her that Barney needed her help; so she went back to the shelter. He was rescued just in the nick of time.

Volunteers from Labs & More assessed Barney’s behavior and found nothing of major concern.  They also had him vet-checked and discovered he had a number of age-related conditions, but not anything serious.  They began promoting him on their website,, and took him to an adoption event; as a senior dog, it was going to be a difficult project to find him a new family.

But then Labs & More got a call from someone who had seen “Barney” on the website.  The person identified himself as the dog’s owner!  He explained that there had been a family emergency which required travel away from home.  The dog, whose real name is “Pepe,” was left in the care of a neighbor.  During the family’s time away, strong winds blew open their gate and the caretaker failed to search for the lost dog nor inform the family of the incident. 

Needless to say, they were horrified when they returned home and began checking shelters, with no luck.  Fortunately, someone suggested they check rescue websites, and that’s when they saw a picture of a dog that looked like Pepe on the Labs and More website!

They met with the volunteers who were fostering the dog, presented documentation to prove ownership, including the matching microchip number and photos, but the most obvious proof came when Pepe saw his people.  He was one excited dog and was happily reunited with his family which included a young boy who was clearly his best friend! 

Though this story has a happy ending, it could have ended terribly.  There are several lessons here.  First, if your pet is microchipped, make sure you have updated emergency contact information in the microchip company’s database.  That way, if you are out of town, an alternate person(s) can be contacted to help.  Second, always keep a collar and I.D. tag on your pet that is engraved with your cell phone, or other emergency number.  Had Pepe been wearing a tag with a phone number, he would never have been taken to the shelter in the first place.  Finally, NEVER leave your pet in the care of someone that isn’t completely trustworthy and responsible. 

To conclude this tale, I leave you with this thought—Labs & More, and rescue volunteers everywhere are the heroes of this tale.  They tirelessly work to save pets in shelters and they deserve huge thanks from all of us who care about animals.   

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