Letra applied for our receptionist position three years ago. Her interview revealed an intelligent, articulate and personable woman.
She also appeared reserved and demure. It seemed she’d fit in well. I was wrong about the latter two qualities and instead of fitting in, Letra reshaped and redefined our reception area. She made it her own with her brand of wit, humor and compassion.
Part of the Letra’s groove was Pebbles. Shortly after hiring Letra, we realized we were getting a two-for-one package. As clients entered the practice, many times sad or worried about their pet, they were greeted by Letra and Pebbles.
A gray-and-white female Shih Tzu, Pebbles always was coiffed and adorned in coordinated separates, bows in her hair and usually a sweater. She loved to see people and would stand on the front desk wagging her tail and beckoning them to come to her. It was at once ridiculous and endearing. For two years, they worked as a pair, welcoming and reassuring clients that, indeed, we all treasure the human-animal bond.
Seven months ago, the unthinkable happened. Letra came to work without Pebbles. Pebbles had slipped away from her boyfriend into the night and was lost. Every avenue immediately was pursued, but days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and hope for a happy ending for Pebbles and Letra faded and died.
It was such a dark subject here that no one really expressed any hope of recovering Pebbles or to admit that she may be dead. The only hope was that someone else had her and that she was safe. This thought provided little comfort, and so all mention of Pebbles faded.
Recently, my (Henri Bianucci) wife, iPhone in hand, asked if Letra had found Pebbles. “No” I replied. “Why?”
She showed me the Charleston Animal Society Facebook Page, and there was Letra, beaming with Pebbles in that familiar clutch. It seemed impossible, but there it was. It seems that someone had indeed taken, or taken in, Pebbles.
Someone near Dorchester and Ashley Phosphate roads had Pebbles but was allowing her to roam the neighborhood. A few days ago, she was seen at the intersection and taken to the animal society. There, she was placed on the lost dogs photo page, where she was recognized by one of our former employees, who alerted Jess, Letra’s co-worker, who alerted Letra.
When Letra saw Pebbles, she immediately looked for a bald spot on the back of her ear, the result of a “bow stuck in the hair” incident. There it was, and there was no doubt, this was Pebbles. After an emergency trip to the groomer, Pebbles is back at her post and has been rehired on a full-time basis, and Letra is back in full form.
I spoke with Kay Hyman of CAS about how all of this was possible. She told me that there is a new position at the shelter that is dedicated to reuniting lost pets and their owners.
Christine is the person in charge. Kay describes this as the CSI of CAS. Using social networks and Internet sites such as Facebook and various Lost and Found pages, as well as print media, Christine tirelessly matches lost-and-found pictures and descriptions.
The CAS website at www.charlestonanimalsociety.org has a page dedicated to pictures of all of the lost pets that can be easily viewed by the public. And from Facebook, one can access Charleston County lost and found pets. Obviously, the best way to avoid this situation is prevention. Keep your cats indoors and keep your dogs fenced or on a leash.
In the event that your pet does go missing, having his identity and yours easily available to the finder is key. According to Hyman, a tag and a microchip are the best means to assure that if your pet is found, you will be reunited. Letra was lucky, as Pebbles had no identification tag or chip. Thus, seven months later, chance favored her and someone noticed Pebbles’ picture, but this could have just as easily not occurred.
If your dog is not chipped, contact your veterinarian about this procedure right away. If your pet already is chipped, make sure that the information is current and always include a cellphone number.
It is interesting to note that a recent ASPCA study determined that only 6 percent of dog owners and 2 percent of cat owners were reunited with their pets at shelters. So while it is important to search the shelters, there are many other steps to be taken.
The CAS website has a complete list of steps to take in the event that one finds a lost pet or is looking for one. The above study also said that 93 percent of dogs and 75 percent of cats reported missing were returned safely home.
This is an encouraging statistic, but remember, the odds of finding a lost pet drop rapidly as time passes, so act fast. Miracles do happen, so don’t give up.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.