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    Prodigal pup's return has family rejoicing

    A beloved dog disappeared six years ago. But thanks to a microchip, she is reunited with her Panama City owners.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 8, 2002

    For just $18, Bambi Lesne figured, it was worth the peace of mind. She decided to have a microchip implanted into her beloved Pomeranian puppy, Pooh Bear.

    She never imagined that her meager investment would one day heal a broken heart.

    As a tiny puppy some 13 years ago, Pooh Bear quickly became one of the family.

    "She went everywhere with us," Lesne said. "She was like one of my children."

    Seven years later, Pooh Bear disappeared.

    Lesne, of Panama City, was devastated. For years she waited for good news, or even a promising clue, but heard none. She had given up hope of ever seeing Pooh Bear again.

    Then, last month, a woman in Cincinnati found a dirty Pomeranian with matted fur roaming the streets and took it to a veterinarian.

    The vet scanned the chip and traced the dog back to Panama City, 600 miles away.

    It was Pooh Bear.

    Lesne said the 6-pound dog knew her right away when she claimed it a couple of weeks ago. She said she has no idea what happened to Pooh Bear during the past six years.

    "When I got home that evening, she saw my daughter Codi and howled with joy," Lesne said. "It gave me chill bumps. I've never seen anything like it."

    The 13-year-old dog has a few more gray hairs on her muzzle and underwent an operation for a hernia but is otherwise healthy and happy to be home, Lesne said.

    Pet microchips have become popular in recent years. The chips, about the size of a grain of rice, are injected under a cat or dog's skin between the shoulders. Each chip is encoded with a nine-digit identification number.

    Many animal shelters now use scanners to check strays for computer chips.

    "We scan them when they come in. We've shipped a couple of dogs back to people that we found down here that belonged somewhere else," said Dr. Welch Agnew, assistant director of Pinellas County Animal Services. "We had one from Tennessee. Its owners didn't know how it had gotten down here."

    -- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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