IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls resident Michael Mitchell thought he would never see his dog again after the pug went missing in 2020.
Sven, the now seven-year-old pug, escaped from the house one day and didn’t come back.
“We looked around the neighborhood and posted on Facebook and different animal shelters, trying to find him. Then, at about three months, we weren’t hearing anything and just didn’t think we were going to see him anymore,” Mitchell said.
However, Mitchell got a surprising call from the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter on Saturday.
“They had found him…he was pretty much a mile from the airport when they had picked him up,” he said. “I was really excited. I could barely believe it! I was like…is this really happening? Is this real? Because in my mind, I felt like in three months, if you haven’t gotten your pet back, you probably aren’t going to see your pet again, you know?”
Animal Control Officer Maja Rellaford with the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter said she got a call about a dog in a neighborhood on Saturday. The dog, later identified as Sven, had walked up to a woman’s door. The woman reported that she didn’t know who he belonged to and had tried asking her neighbors about him, but nobody recognized him.
So Rellaford picked him up from the woman’s house.
“Our policy is when we pick up any stray animals, we scan them for a microchip right away, so I put him in my truck and went to my computer to see if the microchip was registered, and he came up as Sven,” she said. “I gave a call to the owner right away, and I said, ‘Hey, I just picked up Sven. Are you missing him?’ And he said, ‘Are you kidding me?!'”
It was a sweet reunion, Rellaford said.
“You could tell the dog knew where he belonged,” she said of the reunion on Saturday.
Mitchell was worried that Sven might not remember him after all this time.
“He recognized me, and he was so excited to see me! It was a really emotional time. It was really exciting. You wonder… it’s been a while. Are they going to remember me? And he instantly remembered me. It was awesome,” Mitchell said.
There’s no indication of exactly where Sven has been the past few years, but it appears he was with someone that was taking care of him.
“Other than a little weight gain, he looks absolutely great. So somebody did take care of him,” Rellaford said.
Mitchell explained there was a collar found on him but no tags.
He is incredibly grateful that he got Sven microchipped.
“I think it’s the best idea. I honestly knew in my heart that if I was ever going to find him again, that was how we were going to be reunited…was that microchip because there was no other proof that he’s my dog other than the fact that he’s microchipped by me. I am really grateful for that,” Mitchell said.
Rellaford is happy with the outcome and said when an animal is microchipped, there is a high success rate of returning the animal to the owners.
“We just want the public to know how important it is to microchip their pets so we can reunite them. We have a lot of people coming to the animal shelter — dozens of people every day — that are missing their cat or dog, and oftentimes, if the cat or dog is microchipped, usually we can reunite them a lot faster,” she said.
Jessica Clements, a spokeswoman with the shelter, said if you move or change your phone number at any point, it’s important to update the microchip on your animal too.
“Make sure if you have a move planned or something like that, that is part of your moving process. Update your info at the post office, and your billing and your dog and cats microchip, too,” she said.
It’s always best practice if you do find a stray animal, not just to keep them.
“Always take them to a vet or call the shelter and have them scanned for a microchip just to make sure that there isn’t someone who loves them and misses them,” she said.
For Mitchell, he’s just grateful that Sven is back home with him and his family.
“To get him back is a miracle. I am so grateful. I literally missed him. I always prayed and hoped that if he was somewhere, that he had a good life and was happy, but I missed him a lot,” he said. “I just feel like getting your animal microchipped is very, very important, and it reunites families.”