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Howard Lee had about given up hope. His miniature pinscher, Bandit, went missing in May after bolting out the front door.
The energetic pup wasn’t wearing his collar because Lee was about to give him a bath. He spent weeks searching for Bandit, passing out flyers offering a $200 reward for his safe return.
On Tuesday, Lee received a call from the San Antonio Animal Care Services department: They found Bandit.
“He was wandering around downtown by himself,” Lee said. The dog, already small at 15 pounds, was down to 11 pounds, badly bruised and covered in what appeared to be cigarette burns, Lee said.
San Antonio Animal Care Services officials stated that Bandit had a superficial lesion but no extensive burns.
No one knows how Bandit ended up in San Antonio, but Lee credits the microchip for reuniting them.
“If you really love your pet, spend the money to get them microchipped,” Lee said.
Home Again, the worldwide organization that tracks microchip information, aided in reuniting Lee and Bandit, Lee said. Once an identifying microchip is implanted under an animal’s skin, it is associated with a unique ID code that is managed by Home Again. If a stray animal is found, the microchip can be scanned by a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, providing the owner’s contact information. Home Again was able to keep in contact with Lee during Bandit’s absence, ensuring him he would be alerted if his dog was found.
Killeen Animal Control at 3118 Commerce Drive offers microchipping each day during normal business hours for $15, according to officials. Most local veterinary clinics also have microchipping services.
Lee spent many sleepless nights wondering where Bandit had gone and who had him.
“I felt guilty. … Pets are like children to me,” he said.
Now that he’s back at home, Bandit has already shown signs of improvement since Wednesday.
“When I first picked him up, he was trembling and withdrawn,” he said.
But once he was in his own home and yard, Bandit slowly became more confident and cheerful.
“Make a little sacrifice (to get the microchip),” Lee said. “It’s worth it.”