Shelter reunites tortoise, owner

Doña Ana County

An African spurred tortoise, formerly a guest at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla, has been reunited with its owner.

A lost African spurred tortoise that garnered a lot of attention last week has been safely returned home.

The tortoise, a native of the Saharan desert of North Africa, was picked up Aug. 29 and taken to the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, where shelter staff kept him happy and comfortable. The owner, who wished not to be publicly identified, saw a photo of his tortoise in the newspaper and immediately went to the shelter to take his pet home.

“He usually burrows down in the ground for a week at a time,” said the owner. “This whole time we thought he was happily hiding in his hole.” The tortoise, affectionately known as “Dude,” has been living with his current owner for the past four years. The owner suspects Dude left his yard after a gate was accidentally left open.

“We were very pleased and very thankful to everyone who got the word out about this lost little guy,” said animal shelter director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock. “It’s not every day that we pick up a stray tortoise, but it is a reminder to always check with the animal shelter when your pet goes missing. We would love to facilitate more happy reunions like this one.”

Vecso-Mock says microchipping is the best way to ensure your pet can be tracked safely if it ever goes missing. “We scan every animal upon intake,” according to Vesco-Mock. “And we scan them several times during the process, because it is possible to miss a scan, but we have safeguards that minimize the chances of that happening.”

While tortoises cannot physically be microchipped, dog and cat owners are encouraged to register their cats and dogs for this identification service. The cost of microchipping and registration is $20 and is available at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley and at occasional off-site pet adoption fairs. More information on microchipping your pet can be found on the animal shelter’s website, www.ascmv.org.

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