Two months and one week after Maggie Mae, a tiny Yorkie-Maltese mix from Oregon went on the lam while vacationing in Alameda, she was recovered and reunited with her relieved owner.
Last week Janice Reese raced back to Alameda to collect her pet after she had all but given up hope of ever seeing Maggie Mae again. Monday night, Oct. 17, Reese and her Bay Area relatives and friends toasted Maggie Mae's return at a celebratory dinner.
Now, Reese says, she wants the near-tragic incident to become a teachable moment for other pet owners and is urging them to microchip their pets.
"If Maggie Mae had been chipped," she says, "she might have been recovered and returned to me sooner. I want everyone to consider having their pet microchipped so they can be identified, if lost. You never think your pet will escape and run away, until they do. It can happen so quickly and to anyone."
Maggie Mae was reunited with Reese after a convoluted series of events that ultimately led to the dog being brought to the Alameda Police Department, where it was relinquished and then turned over to Reese's daughter until Reese could return to the Bay Area to collect her pet.
Reese said she is enormously grateful to the Alameda Police Department for their work on the matter and to Alamedan Diane Stohner, who dilligently looked for the animal and helped crack the vanishing dog case.
Stohner saw the dog the day it went missing with a man and a woman who told her they were looking for its owner. She noticed that the dog had an Oregon rabies tag. She also remembered seeing a car with Oregon license plates in the neighborhood.
Stohner ultimately tracked down Reese's daughter, who lived in the neighborhood, and confirmed that Reese, who had been visiting from Oregon, had lost her dog.
Despite Stohner and Reese's family going door to door and posting flyers all over town and at shelters and veterinary offices, Maggie Mae's disappearance remained a mystery for many weeks.
Then the weekend of Oct. 15-16, quite by happenstance, Stohner spied the man she'd seen with the dog again and confronted him about the animal's whereabouts. Ultimately Alameda police were called in, and two hours later a woman, who Reese and Stohner said was an acquaintance of the couple, delivered the dog to the police department.
Although the circumstances of Maggie Mae's time on the run are somewhat murky, Reese says only an incident report was filed with the police department and no charges are being pressed against anyone. Reese said she hopes the experience will be a lesson for pet owners everywhere.
Even if animals were wearing identification tags at the time they went missing, she said, those tags can be removed or lost, and that could make it difficult or impossible for a shelter or veterinarian to positively identify the pet.
Reese said Maggie Mae is glad to be back home in Oregon and is getting settled into her familiar routine.
Stohner said she too is relieved Maggie Mae is safely home. Months of pounding the pavement in search of the dog consumed much of her time, as it did for Reese's daughter.
"I'm just so glad Jan, whose husband had died just one week before the dog's disappearance, has Maggie back," said Stohner. "Thankfully, even after all this time there was a happy ending to the story."