Watch: Chennai Woman Reunites German Couple with Stolen Dog
On 21 October, Vijaya Narayanan, an animal welfare worker based out of Chennai, received a phone call from a man...
We often come across stories of people losing their pets and requests on social media forums from pet parents seeking help in finding their furry friends. Sometimes these stories do get a happy ending, thanks to animal lovers determined to reunite owners with their pets.
On Saturday evening, Vijaya Narayanan, an animal welfare worker based out of Besant Nagar in Chennai, received a phone call from a man. The call was a culmination of several weeks of hard work and a 'never say die' attitude.
For over two months, Vijaya had been looking for Luke, a nearly two-year-old black Labrador mix puppy who was allegedly stolen from his owners – a German couple – at Chennai’s Marina Beach in July.
The man on the other side of the call said he had Luke with him. After Vijaya saw his pictures, she asked him to bring Luke to Thiruvanmiyur at a vet's clinic. Luke's microchip number was checked and it was a match.
"It's always an incredible feeling," Vijaya, who assists in several similar cases, says.
From the very start, we believed that we would find him. I took it very seriously and gave it my all. And our efforts and attitude has finally paid off.
German couple Janin Scharrenberg and Steffen Kagerah have been travelling the world since 2016.
On 8 July, the couple, who were on the India leg of their travel, were near Marina beach when their dog was stolen from outside their vehicle.
Passers-by informed them that an auto rickshaw driver had removed Luke's leash and drove away with him.
Janin and Steffen had found Luke in a street in Greece last year and when they couldn't find his owners, they adopted him.
The distraught couple tried to search for him wherever they could; they also launched a WhatsApp campaign, approached the Blue Cross, and lodged a complaint with the Marina police station.
It was around three weeks after Janin and Steffen lost Luke that Vijaya reached out to them.
"I just put myself in their shoes. What if I were in a different country and lost my dog, I asked myself" she says.
Along with the help of her drivers, and from Janin and Steffen who had come down to Chennai for two weeks in between, Vijaya actively began her search for Luke.
"I started with ads in Tamil newspapers every other week. We printed over 10k flyers and went to every possible place we could think of, starting from Marina. We went to auto stands, pet shops, breeders, dog trainers, dog training schools and veterinary clinics. We did not leave any stone unturned," Vijaya narrates.
“I would go to Marina hoping to find Luke, or hoping at least that someone would have spotted him,” she adds.
She also went to an auto rickshaw union meeting and petrol bunks to distribute flyers and put up posters.
Vijaya started receiving numerous calls everyday from people who said they found Luke. While some did send the pictures of the dog they thought was Luke, many others did not have access to a smartphone.
"So I had to go to them personally but couldn't find him. What I'd do is distribute the flyers in all the new areas I went to," she says.
Their hard work and prayers were finally answered on 21 October when they received the call from the man who had Luke.
"A man and a woman got Luke to the vet's clinic. They said they had seen him with an adolescent boy on Marina a few days ago. They had recognised him from the posters I had put. They said they then convinced the boy to give Luke to them. However, they did not have a copy of the poster with them then and kept Luke at their house for a few days. After they got the contact number from a poster put on a petrol bunk, they called me," Vijaya says.
For now, everyone is quite relieved and happy that Luke will soon be united with his family.
"He seems healthy, though he is a bit traumatised. He is with the vet currently and we want him to settle down and sleep off the stress. Janin and Steffen are in Nepal currently, but will be in Chennai in a few days," says Vijaya.
Of the several cases of lost pets Vijaya assists in, the success rate, she says, is 6:10. Her message to people who lose their pets is simple – "Exhaust every option that is there. You never know where you will find your dog or cat. You should not give up or leave anything to chance."
(This article was originally published in The News Minute)
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