Missing Calif. dog found in Phoenix

A Dachshund who had been missing for four months was reunited with his family Monday in Phoenix after being found 588 miles from his home in Kingsburg, Calif. Max began to bark and wag his tail as he was led out of the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control Center by a handler. “He’s happy. He knows me,” said owner Pamela Ekizian, 50.

Max was a gift from Ekizian’s children after she and her husband lost a Labrador retriever they had owned for almost 14 years.

In the 3½ months they had Max, who was adopted from a shelter, he escaped from the house several times. California shelters automatically place microchips in all of the animals they rescue, so they had always received calls and were able to locate Max whenever he got loose, she said.

“We never would have found Max, even the first time, if he hadn’t been microchipped,” Ekizian said.

Four months ago, Max climbed up on their couch, managed to open the window and chew through the screen to escape.

“I knew someone must have had him or picked him up,” Ekizian said. But she said she never imagined that the call would come four months later and the dog would have traveled nearly 600 miles.

Their 4-year-old granddaughter, who took the disappearance the hardest, often asked if they had heard anything.

“She just asked me about him the other day,” Ekizian said as she began to tear up. “I just kept telling her that maybe one day we will get another call about him.”

Max was finally found Thursday at 35th Avenue near Interstate 10. Ekizian said the county shelter gave her the option to pick up the dog or put him up for adoption.

“My husband asked me, ‘Are you ready to do something crazy?’ . . . Everyone was telling us we were nuts for driving so far. But the minute my husband said they called we got work covered and headed out here,” Ekizian said.

Ekizian and her husband will bring Max home as a surprise for their granddaughter, who does not yet know that he has been rescued.

Aprille Hollis, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control Center, said that although they have found dogs from California and Texas, Max “definitely wins the award for the furthest travelled.”

But it remained unclear how the dog traveled so far.

Hollis said that someone probably picked up Max in California and brought him to Phoenix, where he got loose again. The dog’s hair had been groomed and clipped and he was found in good health with no signs of neglect.

The microchip that helped the shelter locate Max’s owners costs $25 to insert with no monthly fee and information can be easily updated online, Hollis said.

“Unfortunately a very small percentage of animals have them, otherwise we would have more stories like these,” she said.



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