Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

From pet, to stray, to pet again

Gema Nunez, left, and her daughters Giselle, 14, and Lisette, 10, were reunited with their dog Sammy, who was lost for nearly two weeks.

JAKE MAY | Times

Gema Nunez, left, and her daughters Giselle, 14, and Lisette, 10, were reunited with their dog Sammy, who was lost for nearly two weeks.

Tears. No Sammy.

Countless missing dog fliers, but still no Sammy.

Gema Nunez made phone calls and nightly searches for the excitable, 2-year-old golden retriever she and her two daughters have grown to love and consider a member of the family.

A week passed. No Tampa shelters or neighbors had word of his whereabouts, and the family eventually gave up hope of finding its dog.

"I was so upset. The girls, they were just so sad," Nunez said. "I didn't even know what to do. We looked everywhere. We gave up. I felt horrible."

Sammy has a microchip ID. Problem is, the information on it was not updated to his owner's current address, which separated the family and dog for nearly two weeks.

Microchips act as permanent identification that can be scanned by veterinarian offices or animal shelters for information about the pet's owner.

Sammy's story begins with Nunez's family vacation in early June. They left their dog in the hands of their neighbors, Lora and David Hernandez, before leaving for a weeklong trip to Orlando.

At about 2 p.m. on June 9, David Hernandez let the dog out to run around and "do his business." When he went to let Sammy in at 2:30 p.m., the dog was nowhere to be found.

Sammy roamed the streets for three days. His tag had broken from his leash.

There is no telling how he made it from the Tampa back yard to downtown St. Petersburg, but that's where the shaggy fellow was picked up by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on June 12. He was taken to Largo, where a search for the dog's owner began.

Lost and found coordinator Melissa Snyder used Sammy's microchip to try to locate Nunez, but the information was outdated. Instead the chip led to a closed Petland store in Tampa, where the dog was purchased.

"People don't think about the fact that the microchip doesn't update itself when you move," said Marissa Segundo, SPCA Tampa Bay public relations manager. "When we can't locate an owner, we pretty much have to treat (a pet) like a stray and put it up for adoption."

With no luck on the first few attempts to find Nunez, Sammy was put up for adoption, but Snyder didn't give up.

After calls to other Petland stores around the area, a connection was made. The Largo Petland had access to Sammy's records and was able to reunite dog and family.

"Oh, my God. It was amazing," Nunez said. "I was at work when I got the call. I started jumping up and down and screaming, I was so happy."

As the family sat in the living room of their Tampa home Friday, a television set blared the sounds of other dogs barking. The family was watching Cesar Millan on National Geographic's Dog Whisperer.

Nunez said she is making an effort to be a better owner.

"We're already brushing up on how to be better in touch with Sammy," Nunez said.

"I would never want anyone else to go through this. We haven't updated our microchip yet, but we are keeping a close eye as we let Sammy out. ... I will get online soon and register his new information."

To update a pet's microchip, owners must contact the microchip company, such as 24PetWatch, by phone or through Web sites.

If owners do not know under which company their pet's microchip is registered, contact a local veterinarian or animal shelter. Either is able to scan the pet's microchip and access the name of the company that supplied it.

From pet, to stray, to pet again 07/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 5:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.