Wellington’s odyssey: A Maltese story

Melisa hugs Wellington as the two shared a moment at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve after their reunification. The two had been separated for seven years. Courtesy of Melisa

Melisa’s dog Wellington, a Maltese mix, had been missing for almost eight years when she got a call from the Castaic Animal Care Center telling her that he’d been found.

Melisa received Wellington as a puppy with her boyfriend Nick in late 2010, when her family friend’s dog had a litter.

“We would take him to the beach and to the mountains for little hikes,” Melisa said.

Wellington as a puppy with owner Melisa. Courtesy of Melisa

It was only a few months later in the summer of 2011 that Wellington went missing from Nick’s fenced-in yard in Panorama City.

“We didn’t know what happened,” Melisa said. “We combed the neighborhood for weeks and asked around, but there was really no response.”

On Saturday, March 23, Wellington was found in Stevenson Ranch, almost 20 miles from home, and was turned into the Castaic Animal Care Center by a local resident.

Fortunately, Melisa had gotten Wellington microchipped when he was a puppy, so when he arrived at the center and the front office clerk scanned him, she was able to trace his chip to Melisa.

“We were down in L.A., and I got a call from a number with an area code I didn’t recognize,” Melisa said. “I waited until there was a voicemail and heard the message about Wellington. At first I thought it was some sick joke, so I was looking it up to see if it was a legitimate source when I got a call from a 661 number and decided to pick up.”

It was the center confirming that Wellington had been found.

“We booked it all the way to Castaic crying and not believing that it was true,” Melisa said. “We didn’t even get a leash, we didn’t stop anywhere. We might have sped a little.”

Melisa arrived at the center within 45 minutes in tears, according to center officials.

A happy ending: Melisa and Wellington, a Maltese mix, were reunited at the Castaic Animal Shelter thanks to a microchip that Wellington had. Courtesy of Melisa

“When we saw him he was still a little scared from being in the shelter, so he was a little hesitant; and it took him a little while to get accustomed,” Melisa said. “But he seems to now be very happy with us.”

It was Wellington’s microchip that allowed him to be reunited with his owner after he had been gone so long.

Collars can break and fall off, leav- ing your pet among the countless, unidentified lost strays at animal shelters, and Wellington proves that this can easily be prevented with the proper use of a microchip, according to shelter officials.

In fact, a county ordinance requires all dogs over the age of four months to be implanted with a microchip, and the number must be provided to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

Microchips are the size of a grain of rice, and are implanted under your pet’s skin, according to Karen Stepp, manager of the Castaic Animal Care Center.

“There’s digital information on there so when you scan it, it pulls up an identification number that goes into a database,” Stepp said.

With the chip identification num- ber in hand, center officials were able to find Melisa’s contact information and she was only a phone call away.

“Microchipping is so important,” Melisa said. “We are so happy to have Wellington back.”

Courtesy of Melisa

A microchip is only as good as the information that’s on there though, according to Stepp, so if your contact information changes in any way, don’t forget to update it with the microchip.

Stepp advises people who find a lost dog to turn it in to their closest animal shelter.

“We’re going to make sure that if it’s injured or ill, we are going to get it the vet care it needs and make sure that it’s taken care of properly,” Stepp said. “The sooner you turn the ani- mal in, the sooner the owner is going to come and find it. If you hold onto it, that might lessen the chances of it getting home.”

Stepp also suggests putting photos of the animal out on social media and trying to find those lost and found pages.

Editor’s note: Last names have been omitted from the story at the request of the dog’s owners.

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