4 Amazing Survival Stories of Missing Pets - Trupanion
Underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company

You won’t believe these missing pet survival stories!

It’s every pet owner’s worst nightmare – a beloved pet goes missing, vanishes from home, leaving the family not knowing when or if they will return. It can be an extremely stressful time for an owner, but these heart-warming stories remind us that our furry friends often come home.

Plucky Bucky, The Unstoppable Lab

black-labrador-retrieverIn January 2012, the city of Myrtle Beach, SC, introduced a ban on dogs, leading resident and black Labrador owner Mark Wessells to take his beloved Bucky to his father’s home in Virginia. According to ABC News, separated from his owner by some 500 miles, Bucky was unhappy with the situation and decided to make the remarkable journey home under his own steam.

In August that year, a local resident found Bucky wandering lonely through the area and took him in. He examined local listing websites for any trace of a lost animal fitting the description but found nothing so took the dog into the animal hospital for a health check. It was then that the hospital’s veterintortisesharian noticed the three-year-old’s microchip, and a scan of the chip revealed the owner to be none other than Mark Wessells from nearby Myrtle Beach. In an extraordinary one-dog mission down the East Coast of the United States, Bucky had found his way home. Wessells described the moment he wasreunited with his beloved pet: “I thought I was going to cry, but I didn’t. He definitely recognized me instantly.”

It’s still unclear exactly how Bucky made the journey, but what matters is that Wessells’ faithful friend found his way home without harm.

Tortoiseshell Holly’s Two-Month Journey Home

Jacob and Bonnie Richter were on vacation in Daytona Beach, FL, with their beautiful tortoiseshell house-cat Holly, when fireworks frightened the feline and she darted out through an open door. According to The New York Times, when she failed to come back inside, the troubled Richters spoke to local authorities and put up posters in the area, but Holly never showed up. Frustrated and heartbroken by a tragic end to their vacation, the couple returned home.

Two weeks later, hope was reignited when an animal rescue worker in the vacation area called the Richters to say that a cat matching Holly’s description had been spotted. On New Year’s Eve of 2012 – a whole two months after her disappearance – Holly was found around a mile from the Richter household. Somehow, against all odds, she had found her way home to West Palm Beach, a journey of some 200 miles. Fortunately, the Richters were insured. Holly was staggering, incredibly weak and severely underweight, but with professional veterinary attention – not to mention the love and care of her owners – Holly was home and safe.

Buster, Rescued in the Eleventh Hour

rhodesian-ridgebackIn October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern seaboard of the United States with devastating effect. Thousands of homes were damaged, and one family in Belle Harbor, NY, lost their Ridgeback-Shepherd mix when he bolted away from the storm-wrecked house, according to Daily News. The O’Donovan family, including five devastated children, searched the neighborhood for weeks, but with no luck. The search was made more difficult by the electricity outages and loss of internet access across large parts of New York.

Soon, a friend of the family, who ran a rescue group of her own, got in touch to say that she had spotted Buster on a Facebook group. The animal was listed as healthy, aside from a mild case of Kennel Cough. But there was a problem – Buster was scheduled to be euthanized the next morning.

On hearing the news, Christine O’Donovan called the shelter and placed the euthanasia on hold via the automated system. This being done, there was nothing for the family to do but wait and hope that they could collect Buster safe and sound in the morning. “I hoped and prayed that he would be alive when we got there,” Christine said.

The following morning, the family made their way to the shelter and were finally reunited as a family. “He was so happy to see my kids and they were so happy to see him”.

With a veterinary insurance plan, conditions such as Kennel Cough can be seen to quickly and easily, so that family and pet can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Tillie, The Faithful Setter Who Stayed With Her Friend

irish-setterLast year, in Vashon Island, WA, two dogs – Tillie and Phoebe – were reported missing. According to Kiro 7 News, for nearly a week the pair were lost, but what rescuers saw when they came across the setter mix and basset hound is truly remarkable.

Volunteers were searching in a wooded area when they were relieved to hear a bark from through the trees. Following the hopeful sound, they came across one weary dog perched at the top of a concrete pit. The other dog was trapped in the hole. Poor Phoebe had found her way into a cistern in the ground and was perched on a mound of rubble that kept her above the water. Meanwhile, faithful friend Tillie had been standing guard at the top, hour after hour, for almost seven days. The only time Tillie left her pal was for a few minutes each day to search for help.

This tale of friendship is surely one of the most remarkable and heart-warming stories imaginable and goes to show the loyalty and emotional intelligence of the animals we hold in our care.

What to do if your pet goes missing

We tend to think of missing pets as a rare occurrence, but unfortunately even the animals we think we know so well can be unpredictable. Many family pets go missing every day across the United States.

Should your pet escape, it is vital not to panic, as the vast majority of pets will be found safe and sound if the right action is taken. Follow these steps to track down your missing dog or cat, and you will be back to normal as soon as possible.

  1. Triple-check the home
    Before setting out into the neighborhood, check all over your home. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to assume a pet has run away when it may just be hiding in the house, garden, garage, basement or another discrete part of your property. Many things can frighten a cat or dog, and their natural instinct may lead them to find refuge under decking, behind a sofa, or even in a bin. You don’t want to launch a search party, only to find Rover has been hiding under the kitchen sink all along!
  2. Call the local shelter
    Even if your pet has only recently gone missing, it is worth calling the local shelter to leave a description so that they can be on the look-out. If a pet finds its way to them, already having your details will save time and get your pet home sooner.
  3. Set out on foot
    After contacting the shelter, gather family members and willing neighbors to search the local area on foot, calling the pet’s name as you do so. If a cat or dog has escaped into a nearby garden or down the road, this is the most efficient way to find them quickly and easily.
  4. Get the word out
    Still no luck? Then it’s time to put up some posters and think about offering a reward. A reward will not only encourage people to come forward if the pet is found, but will also help to grab the attention of more people. Remember that Trupanion supports your efforts with advertising and reward costs for finding your lost animal.

The vast majority of missing pets are either found or come home safe and sound, but often they will require professional veterinary care – as well as the love and care of their owners – to return to health and happiness.

The Trupanion policy will support you through all stages of finding and recovering a lost pet, helping out with the costs of posters, rewards, and the all-important veterinary care that ensures your animal has not been harmed by the experience. We hope you never need to use us – but we’re here if the worst happens.

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