Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five Golden Retrievers [presumably] Stolen!!!

The past few days have been an absolute horror for one Golden Retriever owner and breeder on the outskirts of Austin, TX. Maura Phelan of Manor, TX had her five Golden Retrievers [presumably] stolen from her own kennel yard! Four of the Goldens are between 2-4 years of age and the fifth is 10 years old. As most responsible owners do all of the dogs were microchipped, though none were wearing collars, and Avid was notified of their disappearance. The five dogs were stolen from a kennel run/pen/yard beside Maura Phelan’s barn in broad daylight!

At around 12 noon the man renting the apartment on Maura’s property put the dogs in their pen, then went up to Maura’s house to do some work on the house. When the tenant’s wife returned to the property less than 30 minutes later the gate to the pen was opened. The gate to the kennel was apparently kicked in so hard the latch mechanism turned to the side—making it fair to say the dogs did not escape on their own.

The local police and sheriff’s offices were notified, and a search for the dogs began. Flyers were posted throughout the area, ads were posted on the Pets section of, utility companies were notified, neighbors alerted, the Texas Vets were notified via Maura’s Vet, rescue lists and humane societies were all notified. A tracking dog was even used in hopes of picking up a scent—the tracking dog was able to follow a trail across a neighbor’s property to a dirt road, but that is where the scent disappeared.

Nearly two days later, and I can only assume sleepless nights for this distraught owner, the dogs were all found, all thirsty and exhausted… but safe. Thank God! There had been speculation of a dog-spotting Northwest of her home, but the dogs were found several miles to the Southeast. All of the dogs were found together, except for Friday (the 10 year old girl) who was found in-between the house and the rest of the dogs—about 2 miles away.

Not only is Maura Phelan a famed breeder, well known in the show world for having bred or co-bred numerous champions, but she is also the founder of Gold Ribbon Rescue in Austin, TX. Maura co-bred “Rotten,” a champion in his own right, but also the sire of Toasty’s Treasure Island a.k.a. “Treasure” the Best of Breed winner at Tuesday night’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Friday, the 10-year-old dog that went missing, is Rotten’s half sister. While each dog that disappeared had impeccable show pedigrees, they are all Maura’s beloved pets. It is truly a miracle all five dogs were found safe and sound.

I wanted to post on this, with contact info, as I know I have some blog followers in the Austin area. I am so thrilled I am able to tell this story with a happy ending, as all dogs were found. I cannot begin to imagine the absolute horror and devastation one would feel if just one dog went missing, but to have all five dogs missing must be awful. As I type this, my own sweet Milly is curled up with her head resting on my feet, snoring. Just looking at her puts a smile on my face, and I don’t know what I would do if something like this ever happened to us. I have received a few emails in recent weeks regarding dog theft—particularly of yellow dogs. I cannot help but wonder if the success of Marley & Me has something to do with this desirable color. Dog theft is something every dog owner should be concerned with—dogs are frequently stolen, and while I’d like to say it is to be pets, I know the horrific truth is a large percentage of stolen dogs are sold to laboratories for testing.

In conclusion, please microchip your dogs, and have your vet scan for the microchip at least once a year. Make sure your microchip contact information is up-to-date, and if your microchip company requires a subscription, please do not let this lapse. Microchips are very useful, but they can and do fail on occasion. The chip can either stop working or “float” to another area. Also, many microchip companies require a paid subscription, and if this subscription is lapsed no contact info will show up when the dog is scanned and that data is entered into the system. There are many reasons not to keep collars on dogs at all times—including the breakage of hair around the neck that is so important in show dogs, but more than half of all missing dogs are returned not based on microchip data, but instead on ID tags found on their collars.