Scared, hurt dog reunited with family years after vanishing. ‘He brightened right up’

When a dog named Panda showed up at a Kansas animal shelter, staff said he was scared and hurt.

“He was very fearful here and wasn’t able to be at handled by staff at all,” Helping Hands Humane Society, in Topeka, said on Facebook. “He’d had some pretty serious injuries and we were just at a loss for this poor guy and how to help him because he wouldn’t let anyone get close to him.”

He had arrived as a stray on Friday, Aug. 18, the shelter said, and it took a few days before staff could safely check for a microchip.

Fortunately for Panda, he did have a microchip, according to the shelter’s Aug. 28 Facebook post. The 7-year-old dog also had a family in Colorado who has been looking for him for years.

Helping Hands Humane Society staff called his family, who still live in Colorado, and learned Panda went missing in 2021.

“Where he has been for the last two years and how he made it from Colorado to Kansas is a mystery to all of us,” the animal shelter said.

After Panda’s family got the news, “they drove up right away,” according to Helping Hands Humane Society. Staff warned the family that their beloved pet might need some “tender loving care” to adjust back into their lives.

But after a weekend of driving, Panda’s owners encountered a dog who seemed quite ready to head back home.

“Once he sniffed his family and heard the language he was familiar with, he brightened right up and was so excited!” the animal shelter said. The bull terrier knows Spanish commands.

“He transformed into a totally different dog than the one we had seen the last week,” the shelter continued. “He even let the staff who had been trying to work with him pet him once he knew he was finally back with his family.”

Panda has since made it back to his home state, as seen in a photo shared by the Kansas animal shelter.

Microchips are small chips that can be placed under the skin of pets using a needle, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The chips contain identification numbers that can be used to help find a lost pet’s owners.

A study published in 2009 found “microchipped animals are far more likely to be returned to their owners,” the AVMA said.

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