A joint effort by the SPCA Penang and the media helped Jackie the
Great Dane find his way home, five months after he had gone missing.
On June 9 this year, Saravanan of the SPCA Penang was passing through Penang Times Square when he spotted an unusual sight: A Great Dane was standing on the road, looking for a way across. Saravanan approached the giant hound, saw it was a friendly lost pet, and took it to the shelter.
“The first thing we do with all pets is to scan for microchips,” says Kogi Gogela, the admin clerk and shelter assistant of SPCA Penang. “But a lot of the time, the chip holds the breeder’s information, not the owner’s. When that happens, we check with the Malaysia Kennel Association but, more often than not, the breeder has no idea who got the dog because they pass their dogs to pet shops and don’t know where the dogs end up.
“Dogs travel, too. We once found a dog in Penang whose breeder was in Ipoh. Please, if you have a dog, chip it and make sure the details are yours!
“The second step is to advertise found animals on our e-mail list and social media networks. We also try to use the media to spread the word. If we still get nothing after three weeks, then we assess the dog for rehoming. Some dogs don’t make it past this stage, especially those that are old and sick.”
The Great Dane was lucky. The staff pegged him at about five years old and the vet gave him a good health report.
“We knew he’d been someone’s darling pet,” Kogi says. “He barked a lot, looking for attention. And the poor thing cried like a baby. Great Danes are huge and this one bounced a lot so we called him Tigger, after the Winnie The Pooh character.”
On Aug 16, the SPCA Penang had an International Homeless Day where the media came to visit.
“When we opened the gate, Tigger was the first out, and the biggest, so he got prime spot in the Guang Ming newspaper,” Kogi laughs. “The owner was on the phone first thing the day that it came out and then he came round straight away.”
When Tigger saw his “dad”, he was over the moon. “He barked, bounced, and then straightaway rushed into the car. You could see he was saying, ‘Take me home, dad!’ ” Kogi laughs.
As it turned out, Tigger’s real name was Jackie and he was indeed five years old. His owner, Lim Thuang Boo, had been combing Penang for him since Chinese New Year.
“Jackie is frightened of thunder and lightening,” he shares. “Usually he just hides his head and shivers but we had a terrible storm and Jackie somehow got out. He’s never done that before!”
Lim walked round his neighbourhood, alerted his neighbours, and searched for months. “I thought Jackie was gone forever,” he says, “and then I opened up the newspaper – and there he was!”
What’s a mystery is where Jackie was between February and June. Perhaps someone took him in, or maybe he wandered the streets. We’ll probably never know, but thankfully, the dog wasn’t run over or otherwise hurt.
“The SPCA looked after him carefully,” Lim says. “I’m so grateful to them. Actually, I went back and joined as a member. They do a good job.”
“We’re delighted, too,” Kogi says. “It’s always so wonderful when a pet is reunited with the owner. Jackie Tigger was such a sweet dog, so kind and so loving. OK, he was dreadfully spoilt in some ways – like when he’d eat, he’d spill food everywhere and then refuse to eat the spillage. He’d make me tidy it up, the big bully.
“But, gosh, I really miss him! The mornings just aren’t the same without his big bouncy ‘hellos’.”
She’s unlikely to see Jackie back again, though. “He’s OK,” Lim reports. “It’s so good to have him home again. I really thought I would never see him again. Everything is as it was before, except that when it rains, I tie him up so that he doesn’t do this silly thing again.”
Ellen Whyte is currently ruled exclusively by cats but she sneaks out to talk to her dog friends.
IS YOUR DOG MISSING?
If your pet decides to go for a walk by itself, here are some reunion tips.
First, walk your area. Don’t go by car or bike; go on foot. People and dogs tend to fall into patterns, so take your regular walking route and call for your pet. Do this immediately, and if you don’t get lucky, repeat every hour. Your pet may be moving, so missed your first call. Also, be sure to do this late at night, when traffic is minimal. If your pet is afraid and hiding, your voice will travel best when it’s quiet.
Second, tell your neighbours, your postman, the security guards, the police, shop owners and everyone else in your area. Take a picture along and hand people your phone number.
Third, call every other vet, pet groomer, and pet shop in your area. Give a description, leave your number and call back periodically. When you find your dog, call them all again so they don’t waste their time spreading the message.
Fourth, check with the nearest shelter. You can call, but if your dog is a typical “medium sized and brown”, then you have to go look for yourself. Best to go look anyway, just in case. Ask shelter staff where else you might look. They should have a list of rescuers who may be sheltering your pet.
Fifth, use social media. Post your message on FB, on rescue pages, on petfinder.my and anywhere else you can think of. For best results, take a picture of your pet, and superimpose this information on the photo: Name, age, where lost, when lost, what number to call. Don’t put this information in a separate text box as the text and image may be separated. It’s very important to state where and when your pet was lost so that it’s not confused with a similar-looking dog lost in, say, Toronto in 2004. Also, when you find your dog, add a FOUND caption and recirculate so people don’t waste their time spreading the message.
Sixth, if after a week you don’t find your pet, repeat your search on a regular basis. Keep visiting the shelters and rescuers.
Take heart by remembering Jackie who made it home after months of being missing, and keep looking. Good luck!