Airline Loses Paco, Microchip Could Help

Your dog is lost. Now what do you do?

If you live in a cell-phone commercial your dog is quickly found in the food court at the airport.

If you live in Canada and travel via Detroit it may be a different story.

Josiah Allen took a trip to Mexico and planned to come home with one more friend than he left with. His new best friend made it only half way.

Josiah went on a vacation trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and while he was there ran across a little stray he named Paco. To satisfy travel requirements Mr. Allen took Paco to a Mexican veterinarian, then shipped him to Mexico City on AeroMexico Airlines. From there they caught a connecting flight with Delta Airlines to Detroit.

Josiah waited at the pet claim area for twenty minutes, then inquired about Paco’s whereabouts. Two hours later he was told that Paco had not made the flight but that Delta employees in Mexico were caring for him. Delta promised to have Paco on the very next flight to Detroit and they would personally deliver him to Allen’s Canadian home.

That didn’t happen.

Josiah’s friend in Mexico called Delta, only to be told that the dog had broken out of its carrier and had escaped.

Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott has apologized, but says Delta has “conducted exhaustive searches to locate the dog.” In addition, Delta has refunded the $200.00 Allen spent to ship Paco, the cost of his veterinarian’s bill and has offered $200.00 flight credits for him and his girlfriend for future flights.

Allen, however, insists that he plans never do fly Delta again, so what good would future flight credits do him?

I don’t know what the availability of microchips is in Mexico, but my first thought was, “How will Josiah Allen prove Paco is his if he does turn up?” recommends AVID brand microchips. A microchip would allow anyone anywhere in the world to almost instantly identify Paco and facilitate a quick reunion.

Some might say, “At least he hadn’t owned Paco long enough to become attached.” And, that sounds like a logical conclusion, but consider this story.

Years ago in Mobile, AL, there was a nationwide pet-store chain that had a reputation for selling puppy mill offspring. One morning a family was waiting on my hospital’s doorstep when I arrived. In their arms Papa held an adorable Cocker spaniel puppy. “Dr. Randolph,” he started, hesitatingly, “we purchased this new puppy in Mobile last night, but we think we might have made a mistake. She’s fine when she’s still like this, but the least little exertion and she’s out of breath.”

“Bring her on in and we’ll take a look at her,” I said, patting him on the back reassuringly. The rest of the clan was silent. The looks on their faces told what their hearts were feeling.

In my routine of physical examination listening to the heart and lungs is the last thing I do. When I got to this baby’s chest the sound reminded me of a clothes dryer running with a 15-place setting of silver cutlery.

Patent ductus arteriosus,” I proclaimed softly. “PDA, it’s a congenital heart defect. It requires surgery to repair. It should have been caught long before now on a previous veterinarian’s examination, which makes me wonder if anything in those medical records is true.”

“The company would surely take the puppy back and refund your money or give you another puppy. I’m guessing, though, by the looks on your faces, that’s not an option.”

“Dr. Randolph,” spokesman Dad explained, “I think I speak accurately for the entire family when I say we’ve never been more taken with a puppy in our lives. We fell in love with this baby as soon as we saw her. What else can we do?”

“We can set up a referral to a board-certified surgeon who can attempt to repair the defect. There are no guarantees.”

“Please make the call,” Mom offered bravely.

This story has a happy ending, as the pup did fine in surgery and lived a normal lifespan. It illustrates that there is such a thing as love at first sight, even in puppy love.

You can understand, then, Josiah Allen’s hurt, even though he’s known Paco for such a short time.

Paco, vaya con Dios, mi amigo. We hope you are in Canada soon.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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