Reunion at Manatee animal services

February 21, 2012 

On Jan. 30, a local business contacted Animal Services to pick up a dog that apparently had wandered onto their property.

Officer Rick Browning responded and met with an employee from the business. Because each Animal Services officer has been issued a microchip scanner, Rick was able to scan the dog and find a microchip. It was determined the dog had been missing from Brownsville, Texas, according to the microchip company’s contact.

The dog, a male English Bulldog named Rocky, had been missing since September 2011. The microchip company’s customer service representative contacted the owner, Julian Lemar, by calling the phone number registered with the microchip. Rick spoke with Julian over the phone, advising he had picked up the dog.

Julian lives in Texas, so Rick told him that he was taking the dog to the shelter where they would determine how he could get his dog back home. It was later found that Julian had reported Rocky stolen from his Texas home.

Now a search was on to try to get Rocky home. Cheryl Thompson, our shelter supervisor, made several phone calls trying to locate transportation. After numerous failed attempts, Cheryl was able to find someone willing to transport Rocky from here in Palmetto to Louisiana. Cheryl was also trying to coordinate the transport with Julian Lemar.

While this was going on, a man came into Animal Services claiming to be the owner of the dog. This man had a photo of the dog on his phone and claimed his brother gave him the dog after purchasing it at a flea market. He was advised the dog belonged to someone else because of information received from the microchip.

Several days had already gone by before Cheryl was able to confirm the transportation to Louisiana. Cheryl called Julian with the news to determine how and where they could meet, knowing it could be a few days before this could take place. Julian couldn’t wait for the transport to come about and wanted to get Rocky more quickly. Julian said his parents were going to accompany him and drive to our shelter in Palmetto.

The trio drove straight through from Texas to Florida. Julian and both his parents were at Animal Services when we opened that Friday morning. By looking at them, you would never know they just drove non-stop from Texas. Fatigue was overcome by excitement.

Cheryl went to get Rocky from the shelter as emotions from everyone were on pause. Everything seemed to move in slow motion while anticipation was at its peak.

Then, from around the corner, here comes Rocky, with Cheryl in tow. Rocky’s eyes sparked as they met Julian’s, as if wondering what had happened, where he had been. Rocky then left Julian for a brief moment to give a lick and a hello to both Julian’s parents, thanking them for coming for him.

What a family reunion. One that will last in the hearts of those involved for a very long time. Animal Services staff have compassion for all animals, but a joyous ending is especially heartfelt by all.

We are not only saving the animals in our community, we are helping to achieve a No Kill nation. The more people see the success of No Kill, the more easily and isolated killing will become. No Kill has been said to be impossible. When others have succeeded, especially those comparable to our shelter, it became probable. When other counties see the successes and follow suit, No Kill will become inevitable.

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky, too.

Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our February adoption special. Manatee County is in the process of becoming a “No-Kill Community” and for the month of February all adoption prices are “Half Off for Half Time.” All adopted animals will be spayed/neutered, have a current health check, vaccinations and a microchip. Prices include a license certificate/tag for Manatee County residents.

Free and Low Cost Spay and Neuter Programs, call our information line at 941-749-3067.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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