Kenny Stackman was heartbroken when his dog ran away in November 2005.
Stackman, a Miami resident, and his rescued best friend, Brandy, a cocker spaniel mix, had just arrived in Hixson to spend Thanksgiving with relatives. Within minutes of getting out of the car at his cousin's house, Brandy broke from her leash and bolted.
"She got scared when my cousin hugged me," Stackman said. "Brandy darted out into the dark."
For the next few days, Stackman and his family looked everywhere for Brandy. He contacted the Humane Educational Society here, put out fliers and drove through the community looking for his dog.
"I drove home alone and wasn't so happy," he said. "Brandy had been mistreated when I got her, so she was afraid of people, except for me."
Fast-forward 51/2 years. On April 29, Stackman got a message that his dog had been taken in by McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center in Hixson. His contact information was stored in Brandy's HomeAgain microchip.
"I was told that Brandy had been in a loving home [and that] the person who brought Brandy into the center had to give her up," he said. "I thank him from the bottom of my heart for taking good care of her."
Karen Walsh, executive director of the McKamey Center, said animals brought in for adoption there are routinely scanned for microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice and cost from $25 to $80.
"We call it an ID for life," she said. "The process is lifelong. A collar can be changed."
Walsh said the family that had taken Brandy in here had never exposed the dog to vet care that might have detected the microchip ID.
Stackman soon made the trip from Miami to Chattanooga to reclaim Brandy, and the two immediately rebonded, he said.
"She is wonderful," he said. "I rescued another dog after Brandy went missing. They get along like sisters."
The only surprise, he said, was that Brandy had doubled in weight from the last time Stackman saw her.
"Back in 2005, she was about 30 pounds. When I got her a few weeks ago, she weighed about 65 pounds," Stackman said. "She looks like a little pig, but I'm so happy to have her back."