ARIZONA – Victoria Tenorio lost Toto, her beloved cat of five years, for one whole year.
Toto’s litter box was in the garage when a mechanic arrived to work on Tenorio’s car and Toto escaped.
“He just slipped out and my mom didn’t notice. Then we closed the garage and I think he wasn’t able to find his way back home,” Tenorio said.
As the months went on, Tenorio began to miss her kitty more and more.
“At first I was really hopeful and then afterwards I was like, ‘Maybe he’s not going to come back home’,” Tenorio stated.
Then, 18 months after her house cat left home, Tenorio got an unexpected phone call that made her cry.
Stephanie Nichols-Young, president of the Animal Defense League of Arizona, called to tell Tenorio a volunteer discovered Toto on the opposite side of the Valley, in northwest Glendale.
“Someone trapped him in Glendale and they brought him to the clinic, they scanned for the microchip and he got home,” Nichols-Young stated. “It is such a good feeling to make that phone call.”
Because Toto had been microchipped by the Arizona Animal Welfare League when Tenorio adopted him when he was just a kitten, the two animal organizations were able to reunite Toto and his owner in less than 24 hours just one month ago.
Michael Morefield, marketing and communications director for the welfare league, encourage all cat owners to get their pets microchipped.
“It is ensuring the highest ability you can to get your pet back to you,” Morefield stated. “Collars break and tags can be worn out. Microchips cannot.”
A microchip, which about the size of a grain of rice, contains a pet’s unique identification number that can be read by a scanner.
“They should check and ask their vet, ‘Is this a manufacturer that’s widely used? Do you think this company will be around?’” Nichols-Young went on to say. “But there is a universal reader that most shelters and most clinics have so they can read multiple types of microchips.”
Morefield said it takes less than one brief minute to inject a microchip and anesthesia isn’t required. The organization offers microchip injections for only $20.
However, owners have to register their pet online and keep contact information, including a current address and phone number, updated.
“A lot of people forget to do that final step. The microchipping is really, really important, but if you don’t register that and give them your information, they cannot get that animal back to you,” stated Morefield.
Luckily for Tenorio, she did just that!
“If it weren’t for the microchip then Toto wouldn’t be back home. I’m extremely grateful for that,” Tenorio stated.