After Breakout, Bella the Beagle Returns Safely Home
Bella the beagle, home after a seven-week odyssey (Photo courtesy of Kari Hess)
Even among dog lovers, Kari Hess stands out as a true canine devotee. For years now, she has gone the extra mile to make sure that every stray she comes across along the highway or in her neighborhood gets a good shot at finding its way home.
“I always stop and collect any strays I see and I call the number on their tag to make sure they get home safely,” Hess said. “If they don’t have a collar, I take them to the vet to see if they might have a microchip that will get the lost pet back home to its owner.”
So, on December 29 of last year, when Hess was bringing in her dogs, Zach, Barkley, Ziggy, and Bella, from their fenced-in play area, she was shocked to find that her newest beagle Bella was missing.
After a closer inspection, she noticed that one of the dogs had tunneled under the fence. “I don’t know if it was Bella that did the digging, maybe it was one of the other dogs.” But, at the end of the day, it was Bella that got loose — and it was Bella who was now out there somewhere, completely on her own.
“I panicked,” Hess admits. “I rushed out and crisscrossed the neighborhood, yelling and searching, but there was no sign of Bella. She was just gone.”
As someone who regularly picks up other strays, Hess knows the value of having a pet chipped and being a member of a service that will help you if your dog is lost. “I’m a member of Home Again and they were an amazing help. Minutes after calling them, they’d put out the pet equivalent of an APB dragnet by faxing the lost pet report along with photos and flyers to all the vets, pet groomers, and pet stores within a 50-mile radius of my house.”
Hess spent New Year’s Eve stuffing 2,500 flyers she had made into mailboxes and posting ads on Craigslist.com, but Bella was still missing.
Despite all of her efforts, Hess had no luck finding Bella. “Everyone in the neighborhood was so great, especially the kids. They would see me walking my other dogs and ride up on their bikes and tell me they were looking every day. They were probably trying to make me feel better because I was often in tears whenever I walked the dogs, remembering Bella.”
Hess put an ad on Craigslist every day and got tons of responses, but each time she went to see the dog in question, it was never her Bella. “Some people would just call to tell me they were sorry I lost my dog,” Hess said. Her vigil went on for 7 weeks. “I was still going through the motions, but I’d been disappointed by so many false leads that I was starting to lose hope,” Hess admits.
Then one day the phone rang. A vet in a town just outside Miami, some 20 miles away, was on the other end of the line. “I think I have your dog,” said the voice. “I thought it was a joke or another false lead,” Hess remembers. “Then they said they were a vet and asked me Bella’s microchip ID number.” The numbers were a match. Bella had been found.
“Bella was found by two elderly sisters who live together in a house outside of Miami,” Hess explains. “Her collar was missing when they found her, but they said she appeared in good condition.” She was, however, hungry and the two sisters began feeding Bella. Their idea was to keep her as a pet for their niece who loves dogs.
The niece did love Bella when she met her, but as a dog lover, she also realized someone else might love Bella too. She insisted that Bella get a scan just to make sure she didn’t have a chip. That’s when the vet found her microchip and called Hess. “I rushed there as fast as I could and there she was. The vet asked if I wanted to keep Bella and I almost yelled, ‘Yes!’.”
And now Bella is back home with her family. But these days, before Hess puts her dogs out into the play area, she checks the perimeter to make sure nobody else makes a break for it. And everybody is happier for her vigilance.
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5 years ago
This is a very touching story and such a lucky dog. My Cj got out of the fence multiple times and despite everything we tried, he still managed to escape. People always brought him back to us due to our address on his collar but one day he was not so lucky. He was hit by a car right in front of our house and the person that hit him just kept going. This world can be so cruel at times. This is why I keep my new Izzy inside with me always. When it is potty time she is on a leash. Never again will I allow a dog of mine outside unattended.
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