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March 21, 2010

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Lost dog story with a happy ending

THE odds of retrieving lost possessions are often slim, much less a community rallying together to recover a dog.

When Philippe Hugot, a French native who has lived in Shanghai for about six years and runs his own coffee house in People's Square, lost his beloved canine on Hengshan Road in Xuhui District earlier this year, he managed to get it back with the help of an unknown network of concerned residents.

Calling it a chain of luck, he said that it all started when a missing notice about his dog, Daba, was posted on a pet Web forum.

For many pet owners, putting notices on such forums is one of the few options available when they lose their pets.

Guo Yibing, Webmaster of Mypethome forum, said that on average in a month, there will be two to three such posts on the sites.

"We are not allowed to put up missing pet notices on roadside bulletin boards here, hence when pet owners lose their animals, they will go to the forums to appeal to people," said Jane Saw, board director of Shanghai Small Animal Protection Association (SSAPA).

However, it seemed that not being able to put up missing animal postings is only one of the several challenges pet owners face in reclaiming their lost furry friends.

When Hugot was not able to find Daba, his greatest fear was losing the cross-breed Labrador to the stew pot. Most lost dogs face the risk of being hit by car, killed or eaten.

For dogs like Daba, the likelihood of being caught for food was very high. Fortunately the woman who found him wandering alone took him to an animal clinic instead.

A kind-hearted woman surnamed He, who was on her usual rounds of feeding stray cats in Changning District, first saw Daba at Wulumuqi Road, Jing'an District.

Noticing his collar, she reasoned that he was either abandoned or lost. She decided to walk him around the vicinity to look for his owner. After walking him for more than three hours in vain, she left him at Guo Guo Pets Clinic in Minhang District.

Another difficulty pet owner's face in reclaiming lost animals is getting people to return them.

Saw said that when her friend's poodle was found by a young girl, the girl did not consider searching for the owner, but insisted on adopting it as her own.

In another incident which she highlighted, the owner spent a week handing out flyers in her community and searching the vicinity only to discover that her lost dog was being kept by a resident in the neighboring block.

In Hugot's case, he was reunited with Daba after a fellow animal lover spotted the missing notice on the forum.

Chen Xiaoli had gone to the pet clinic to pick up a stray cat that she sent for sterilization, when she saw Daba. Noticing his collar, she asked the vet if he was a lost dog. The vet told her Daba was brought in by a woman who found him wandering alone. Curious, she browsed through several pet forums and discovered that the dog she had just petted was the missing Daba.

She contacted Hugot and ended Daba's tumultuous journey. But, for many other dogs and cats, such tales are rare.

And they will continue to be so until we learn to be concerned about the people and animals around us.

Daba was not an ordinary dog from the start. As a young stray, he had been caught and kept for fodder. But just as he was about to be killed, he struggled and made yapping noises which attracted the attention of concerned residents who handed him to SSAPA.

As a cross-breed and large dog weighing almost 30 kilograms, the chance of him being adopted was slim. Nonetheless, the SSAPA posted a notice in Shanghai Daily.

Subsequently, Hugot adopted him which started yet another chapter in his miraculous life.


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