The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 3, 2013

Dog found in Greenbrier County begins long trek home

The message in all of this: ‘Microchip your dog’

By Tina Alvey
Register-Herald Reporter

— A South Dakota dog picked up by animal control in Greenbrier County last week is at last homeward bound, thanks to a concerted effort by local Humane Society officials and a network of Facebook friends.

Spike, a lab/border collie mix believed to be between 1 and 2 years old, was in good condition when he was brought to the Greenbrier County Animal Shelter, according to Layla Georgopoulos, the Humane Society’s operations director.

Following the shelter’s usual procedure when a stray dog or cat is picked up by animal control, staffers scanned Spike for a microchip containing data about his owner. Luckily, Georgopoulos said, Spike was “chipped.”

“We then called Pet Watch, and they called the owner’s mom — whose ID information was on the microchip — and she called us,” Georgopoulos said.

Shelter workers soon found out as much of the story of how Spike ended up in West Virginia as they will probably ever know.

“The owner of the dog lives in Sioux Falls, S.D., and apparently her work requires her to travel a lot,” Georgopoulos explained. “Because she’s been on the road so much, she had a guy in Kentucky watching Spike, so that’s how the dog got to this side of the country. The owner doesn’t know — and we don’t know — how he got from Kentucky to Lewisburg, though.”

Georgopoulos said the dog’s owner posted information on Facebook about her dog’s plight, asking for help getting Spike back home to South Dakota.

“We posted on Facebook, too, and the Facebook community just took it and ran with it,” Georgopoulos said.

Judith Walz-Harris, president of the Greenbrier Humane Society’s board, noted that a woman in Ohio saw the social media postings and took it upon herself to organize a sort of “relay” network of people willing to drive Spike from one point to the next, handing him off to another driver for the next leg of the approximately 1,000-mile journey home.

That organizer, Lily Robinson, said she was touched by Spike’s situation when one of her friends shared the Facebook posts with her.

“I commented, ‘We have enough people here to get him most of the way home,’” Robinson said.

“My friend stepped up and said she’d help transport him, and her niece in Morehead, Ky., volunteered to drive to West Virginia and pick up the dog there and take him to her home, where her aunt will pick him up and bring him to me. Then, on Saturday, we’ll take him to Danville, Ill. Someone there needs to have an open heart and drive him the rest of the way home.”

The trip to Danville is long enough that Robinson and her friend — who is also an animal lover — will have to stay overnight there before traveling home to Ohio.

Asked why she was willing to go to such lengths to help a stranger reunite with her dog, Robinson said, “I can’t help but think, what if this dog was one of mine?”

Walz-Harris pointed out, “The message in all this is: Microchip your dog. Only a small percentage of lost pets are ever reunited with their owners, but animals that have been microchipped have a much better chance than most.”

Along with most area veterinarians, the Humane Society will implant a microchip in a pet for a nominal fee. For more information, call the Greenbrier Humane Society at 304-645-4775.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com