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Pete's Pets: Doggone it, Jade’s missing

>Name monica mccabe and her son adam, from bray, co wicklow

>animal jade, a 12-year-old staffordshire bull terrier

>summary jade escaped from the back garden and went missing for four days

Monica and her family are enthusiastic animal-lovers. As well as Jade, they have another Staffie, Chester, a miniature Jack Russell and a cat.

The two Staffies share a kennel in the back garden and they get on well together. The garden is surrounded by a secure fence; the dogs have lived there for many years, with no problems.

Monica was sure that the area was completely escape-proof. She was astonished when she went out to feed the dogs on Monday morning, only to find that Jade had gone missing.

When she checked the perimeter, she found that there was a tiny hole in the back fence. It looked too small for Jade to wriggle through, but she must have found an appealing scent and, by burrowing and wriggling, she had managed to get through.

Chester, as a male dog, is bigger than Jade, and the hole was definitely too small for him.

Fortunately, he'd been unable to follow her.

Monica had never imagined that Jade would be able to get out of the garden, so the dog had not been wearing her usual collar and ID tag.

Monica had got into the habit of only putting this on her when she was taken out for walks.

There was one positive thing -- Jade had been micro-chipped when she was a young dog, so if she ended up in the dog pound or at a vet, a quick scan would bring up her unique, 15-digit number.

When this was cross-referenced with the micro-chip database, the McCabe family details would have come up.

Monica couldn't depend on the fact that this would happen, so she set about doing her best to find Jade.

She drove around the local area, searching for Jade, and asking people if they'd seen her, but there was no luck.

She then visited the website www.irishanimals.ie, where she found a detailed list of instructions for what to do if a dog goes missing.

She then telephoned the gardai, dog pounds, animal welfare groups and vets, but nobody had seen Jade.

She made up a poster, which included a photo of Jade, and she put this up in local shops and on supermarket notice boards. Despite all of her efforts, three days passed and there was no sign of her dog.

It so happened that on the Thursday, one of the vet nurses who works at my clinic was refuelling her car at a petrol station several miles from the McCabe's home when she saw a stray dog.

She was concerned as this lively Staffordshire Bull Terrier ran around the forecourt, almost getting hit by passing cars.

It was obvious that the dog didn't have an owner, so the nurse caught the animal and brought her back to our clinic.

A quick scan with the micro-chip scanner confirmed that it was indeed Jade, and within five minutes the nurse was on the telephone to Monica.

She was delighted to hear that Jade had turned up with no injuries or other problems.

She came down to collect her dog, and has decided that from now on Jade will always be wearing her collar and tag.

A dog can escape at any time, and although micro-chips are effective and tamper-proof, they cannot be read by members of the public in the same way as a simple ID tag can be viewed.