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ProblemSNew Franklin dog owner Kim Reeves did everything riHer 3-year-old poodle, Sophie, was tagged and microchipped. And an invisible electric fence allowed Sophie to get plenty of exercise on Reeves’ three-acre property. The poodle was a loved and a valued member of the Reeves’ family, which includes her father and ailing mother.
But on Jan. 27, Sophie breached the fence. Reeves doesn’t know what caused Sophie to go outside the perimeter, but it must have been a significant disturbance, because the poodle was reluctant to go outside the fence.
Reeves’ father, Larry Reeves, saw Sophie through a window.
“My dad looked out the door and called for her and she looked at him and walked away,” Reeves said.
But her dad couldn’t go after Sophie, having to take an important business call. When he was able to get outside, the family poodle was out of sight.
Three weeks later, she hasn’t been found.
‘It has been absolutely insane’
Every year, 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen, according to the American Humane Association. The organization estimates that only 23% are eventually reunited with their human family. Further, the AHA estimates that one in three dogs and cats are reported missing in their lifetime.
It’s a reality that no pet owner wants to experience. But Reeves is living the pet owner’s nightmare and doing everything she can think of to find her dog.
She has made public appeals on social media for the return of Sophie, posting on her personal Facebook page and on group pages dedicated to finding lost pets.
She has placed or passed out hundreds of flyers, has scoured ponds and lakes and rivers, has trekked through woods and searched in places where she’s taken Sophie. She is offering a $500 reward for Sophie’s return.
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And people have responded to her pleas. She’s had more than 9,200 shares of her original Facebook post by Wednesday morning. People have helped search the wooded area behind her home. They have commented with advise and encouragement. But still, no Sophie.
“It has been absolutely insane,” Reeves said. “People from other states are telling me they’re praying for her.”
Sophie was in the public eye before, when her picture appeared in a September 2019 newspaper story about a peanut-butter eating contest for dogs.
Runaway pet prevention tips
Greta Johnson, Summit County assistant chief of staff, said it’s common for pets and their owners to be reunited by the county Division on Animal Control, especially if information on microchips and dog tags are current.
“Always make sure your dog has a collar with an ID tag or microchip,” Johnson said. “… Sometimes we get really cute dogs with no license and no microchip and we have 15 people who come up and say, “That’s my dog.’ ”
The Summit County Animal Control facility on Opportunity Parkway in Akron has a constant flow of dogs and cats coming and going. It holds the pets for three days before they’re put up for adoption and posts them on its Facebook page.
Last week, Johnson said, it had nine owner redemptions. It currently is holding 19 dogs and two cats — Waffles and Houdini.
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“When dogs are taken into custody, the first thing we do is check the microchip [and] check the tags,” she said.
Diane Johnson-Owens, president of the Humane Society of Summit County, said prevention is the first and best strategy to keep dogs safely at home. Like Johnson from the county, she said current information attached to the dog is key to reuniting pet and owner.
“We’re able to reunite a lot of dogs with their owners because of a microchip,” Johnson-Owens said Tuesday. “[Pets] should have their dog license — it’s another way for us to track down who owns an animal.”
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Kristin Branagan, director of operations at the organization, said she and other staffers track the lost-and-found groups like Summit County Lost & Found Pets, which has more than 28,000 members on Facebook. The groups attempt to connect lost pets and owners, and have a constant stream of lost dogs and cats posted to the site.
Branagan said she’d seen posts on the lost poodle on the Facebook group page.
“I follow this story as well,” she said. “We go on that site routinely to see if we can make matches.”
Johnson-Owens said a microchip is the best tool for matching a dog and owner. If the lost dog is found by someone who wants to reunite it with its human family, the microchip can be scanned and information to help match dog and owner is immediately available.
Lost or taken?
But if the dog is found by someone who wants to keep it, the information on a microchip or dog tag is useless.
Reeves said she’s increasingly concerned about that possibility.
“I could see somebody falling in love with her,” she said.
She’s hoping that if someone has found Sophie, they will see a post or flyer about the poodle and change their minds about keeping the dog. Sophie has been trained to help Reeves’ mother, who has a medical condition, and has become her best friend.
“We have been teaching her to pick up things my mom drops,” Reeves said. “We have been teaching her to be a brace for light mobility. If my mom does fall, she can use Sophie to get up.”
On Sunday, Reeves placed fluorescent green flyers in downtown Canal Fulton, thinking Sophie may have wandered there. She has taken Sophie to the area for walks along the Towpath Trail.
“When I went back out this morning, there was one green sign left,” Reeves said Monday. “I’m not sure if someone local might have her and not want the signs up.”
Hoping for safe return, happy reunion
Reeves said she will buy a GPS collar for Sophie if she’s returned as one more layer of protection.
In a post on Tuesday, Reeves made another plea: “We don’t care how you ended up with her, and we thank you for taking care of her, but it’s time to get her home where she belongs.”
On Wednesday, she texted that she’s still searching for her beloved poodle. But as the days pass and Sophie remains missing, Reeves said she’s not sure she’ll ever get her dog back.
“The longer she’s gone, the harder it is to keep your hopes up.”
Leave a message for Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 ore email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.
5 tips for preventing a lost dog
There’s no sure way to keep a dog or cat from wandering off, but there are ways to minimize the risk, said Diane Johnson-Owens and Kristin Branagan of the Humane Society of Summit County.
- Microchip your dog. Each microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry. A veterinarian can microchip a pet dog for about $45, although the cost varies.
- Keep your dog license up to date. Ohio law requires dog owners to get their dog license every year between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31. The license includes a distinctive tag number used to locate an owner. Cost is $18 per year.
- Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise. A well-exercised dog is less likely to wander or feel the need to run.
- Always put your dog on a leash when walking it outside.
- If your dog does get lost, get the word out. Says Branagan: “Networking is huge. There’s a lot of Facebook pages out there. Use technology and get your dog’s picture out there.”