Ace is on his way back home. / Gannett Wisconsin Media
Being lost 1,800 miles from home would be pretty scary.
Luckily for Ace the cat, there was a way to track his owners — even after he was missing for almost a year.
Ace, a cat from Tucson, Ariz., arrived on the doorstep of the South Wood County Humane Society in Grand Rapids just outside of Wisconsin Rapids on Monday. In a new carrier crate, Ace looked well-taken care of but had no tags and no notes or other identification.
Except for one thing: The 10-year-old Siamese cat had been microchipped.
“We brought him in and, like we do with all animals, get him set up, get him comfortable and check him for a microchip,” said Bridget Chariton, the executive director at the Wood County shelter.
The shelter’s pet care coordinator, Beth Peabody, contacted the microchip company, Chariton said.
“(The company) provided us with the contact information of the vet’s clinic,” Chariton said.
The clinic was in Arizona.
“Who would have thought? This is pretty rare; we find animals that sometimes have microchips, but it’s usually in our area, in our community,” Chariton said.
Staff members reasoned that the owner must have moved to the area and just forgot to update the chip information.
Nope. The owner still lives in Tucson.
“We called them — come to find out Ace had been missing for 10 months,” Chariton said. “It’s been quite a whirlwind.”
The owner, who works for the Tucson International Airport’s police department, who was not available to speak, adopted Ace after he hopped onto the back of her bike one night during a patrol route. The owner had the cat microchipped the next day.
“She loved this cat,” Chariton said of the woman, who has owned the cat since 2005.
The owner told Chariton that Ace always came home for supper — until that night 10 months ago.
“They had spent a lot of time looking for him,” Chariton said.
“How he got to Wisconsin, let alone Wisconsin Rapids, we have no idea.”
It’s a happy ending that shows the benefits of microchipping. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of strays coming into the shelter have microchips, Chariton said.
The simple process involves implanting the small chip — about the size of a grain of rice — between the animal’s shoulder blades. The chip holds a series of numbers linked to the owner’s contact information. If found and brought to an animal shelter, veterinarian or even some police departments, the animal is scanned with a hand-held device to find the chip. The process allows the chip’s manufacturer to provide contact information, with a goal of reuniting pets and owners.
It’s not a GPS tracker but can help find owners if a pet is brought to a shelter.
Without the chip, Ace would not be flying home today to be reunited with his owner.
“The microchip that Ace had really saved his life,” Chariton said. “It was able to speak for Ace, because of course, we know animals can’t speak for themselves.”