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Lost dog finds home thanks to microchip

1/17/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Vince Shoaff, of North Akron, enjoys a moment with Britta as he dropped her off to live with Mike Hershman, who had found the dog and taken care of her a few months before.
Mike Hershman, of West Akron, helped take care of Britta, a lost dog, before her owner was determined from the microchip implanted in her. Now he’ll be her owner.
Photos courtesy of Vince Shoaff
WEST AKRON — After an eight-month adventure, Britta the dog returned home and found a new home in the process.

The boxer-pit bull mix belonging to Vince Shoaff, of North Akron, had been missing since April.

“We went on vacation to California and she was with our friend [in Cuyahoga Falls] and jumped over their fence the first night we were gone,” Shoaff said.

The friends and Shoaff’s family members fanned out to search for Britta. When Shoaff and his girlfriend returned from their trip, they also spent a few days searching for the dog, with no luck.

Shoaff posted an ad on Craig’s List and renewed it monthly, but there was no sign of Britta, who was one of three dogs he owned.

Meanwhile, this past fall Mike Hershman, of West Akron, noticed a dog in his neighborhood.

“The dog had been coming around the apartment for the last couple of months,” he said. “It was starting to get cold. She wouldn’t come up to you, so we started putting dog bones off the balcony, and we finally got her to come up to us. She started to get friendlier.”

Hershman said the dog was looking thin, so he started buying dog food for her, and he also made a bed for her in his garage. He also decided he should take the dog to a veterinarian.

Primary Pet Care’s Dr. John Gifford said Hershman brought the dog there, and Dr. Stephanie Samples scanned her to see if she had a microchip. She did, and the Fairlawn veterinary practice was able to determine she belonged to Shoaff.

“We called him, and the owner confirmed that she had been missing since April,” Gifford said.

Hershman and Shoaff also spoke by phone.

“I asked him a lot of questions,” said Hershman, who at this point had grown attached to the dog and was planning to keep her.

The two arranged to meet the next day, and Shoaff drove over to Hershman’s place.

“When she saw him, she was happy,” Hershman said. “She jumped right in the seat and seemed to say ‘I’m ready to go home.’”

Shoaff said he was shocked to hear that the dog had been located after all that time.

“We didn’t think we were ever going to hear anything about it, and it was a really nice surprise,” he said.

When Shoaff claimed the dog in December, Hershman told him he would take the dog if he ever decided she needed a new home.

A month later, that’s exactly what happened.

“We’ve been taking care of her for a month with our dogs,” Shoaff said Jan. 9, when he brought the dog back to Hershman. “I think we feel OK knowing there’s someone who really cares for her.”

Hershman, who hasn’t owned a dog since he was a child, was delighted to be reunited with Britta.

“She came right to me,” he said.

Gifford said he encourages all pet owners to consider having their pets microchipped.

“It positively identifies the dog as yours,” he said. “There’s so many black Labs — they all look alike. If there’s an ownership dispute, this positively says whose is whose. It doesn’t wear out or need batteries and is used nationwide. All the shelters, all vets and pounds have the scanners to try to return a pet to their owners.”

He added that veterinary practies like Primary Pet Care can place a microchip in pets.

Shoaff said the experience has shown him that microchips are a valuable tool for pet owners.

“There was no way for us to know what happened to her without it,” he said.

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