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Collars, Tags And Even Chips May Not Find Your Missing Pets | Pets

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Collars, Tags And Even Chips May Not Find Your Missing Pets

WASHINGTON (WUSA)--If you're a pet owner, you know how your dog, cat or other critter becomes part of the family.  And when that animal goes missing, it can be a heartbreaking experience.

But when your pet has a collar with tags, at least when it's found-dead or alive-someone will contact you, right? 9NEWS NOW's Andrea McCarren learned, that's not always the case.

"It's like losing a child to me," says Kaye Stoopmans, whose Boston Terrier, Zoe, disappeared from her Arlington, Virginia home three weeks ago.  "She's like my child. I don't have kids yet, but she's my baby. She slept with me every night so she used to keep me warm. And I'm so used to having this little ball of fur next to me. It's just not the same. I don't sleep as well anymore without her there."

"She is a very, very good dog and this is very uncharacteristic of her to just kind of wander off.  Because she never does that," says John Tuohy, Kaye's boyfriend.

The young couple has spent more than a thousand dollars to print flyers in English and Spanish, hire dog trackers and fund 500 hundred robo-calls.

"The reason that we do it is because she's our family member," says Tuohy.

The couple has even placed traps--a dish of food surrounded by flour to help identify Zoe's paw prints if she wanders past when no one is home. And both have spoken with animal control officials in every jurisdiction within a 60-miles radius. Most keep them updated.

"We haven't heard anything from DC. We have a lot from Alexandria and the surrounding counties, Montgomery County, in Maryland, but nothing from DC," says Tuohy.

In fact, DC officials told us the Department of Public Works does not have the resources to call the owners of dead pets, even if their contact information is on an animal's collar and tags. And often the animals bodies are too mangled to check.

"To hear that is shocking to me and just wrong. To not inform someone that their pet has been found-either dead or alive," says Kaye.  "Because honestly right now if she was dead, I'd rather know that than not knowing. The not knowing is the hardest part."

DC does not scan dead animals for microchips. DPW says there's no budget for a chip scanner. 

Zoe was wearing a pink collar without tags when she vanished. She does have a microchip in her right shoulder.

DC officials tell 9NEWS NOW's Andrea McCarren they didn't have the budget to purchase a chip scanner.  McCarren  found a handheld device for just one hundred dollars.

Montgomery County does scan for microchips. V-DOT, which handles dead animals in Northern Virginia, doesn't scan but will check an animal for a collar and tags and call pet owners with the bad news.