Dog Traded for a Cell Phone is Reunited with His Family by the MSPCA-Nevins Farm

January 10, 2012

Methuen, Mass., Jan. 10, 2012 – One year after U.S. Navy Chief Chris VanLaar was deployed to sea in 2010 he and his fiancé Carly made the painful decision to re-home their dog Jax.  A spirited and playful one-year-old Pit Bull, the couple felt Jax needed the constant companionship they were suddenly unable to provide given Chris’ deployment.  Chris and Carly ultimately found a new owner from Stoneham, Mass. who, on paper, seemed the perfect adopter for Jax.


The new owner had a small family and another dog: an ideal environment for the playful and active Jax.  When they drove to Chris and Carly’s house to pick up Jax Carly felt very sad to be saying goodbye, but confident she was doing the right thing for her beloved dog.

 Jax resting at home


Soon after the transfer, however, Carly began to have doubts.  “They promised to keep us informed on how Jax settled in with the family.  I was hoping for regular updates and pictures, but I never heard from them after dropping Jax off.”  Determined to know how Jax was doing, Carly pressed for details.  She ultimately learned that Jax’s new family decided to give him to a relative. 


From there, Jax’s story gets very fuzzy.


“We believe that the relative gave Jax away to someone who then traded him for a cell phone,” said Mike Keiley, Director of the MSPCA-Nevins Farm Animal Care and Adoption Center.  “While we are appalled that a dog (or any animal) would be traded for a cell phone it was a fortunate break for Jax, because he was then brought to Nevins Farm.  And given the condition in which he arrived it was not a moment too soon.”


Jax arrived at Nevins Farm having lost between 20 and 25 pounds.  This was a shocking weight loss given that only three weeks transpired between Jax going to his new home and his arrival at Nevins Farm.  It was clear to Keiley and his team that Jax was not properly cared for, or fed, while he bounced from stranger to stranger.  After settling Jax down in a warm kennel with plenty of fresh food and water, the team set about trying to track down his owners.


While Jax was not microchipped, The MSPCA-Nevins Farm team was able to trace him back to Chris through his rabies vaccination certificate.  Keiley immediately called Chris—now back home from his deployment—to let him know that Jax was in safe hands at the Adoption Center.


“Obviously I was shocked to learn what Jax had gone through and very relieved that he ultimately found his way to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm,” said Chris.  “Upon hearing that he was at the adoption center we immediately decided to bring him home for good.”  Jax is now back with Chris, Carly and their son Logan.  He has settled into a life of leisure with the family who only ever wanted the best for him, and are now grateful to  have him home, where he will stay forever.

 Jax at home with Logan


The importance of Microchipping

Jax’s story underscores why microchipping is essential for all dogs and cats.  Jax wasn’t microchipped and his rabies vaccination proved essential in identifying him and contacting his original owners.  Every year 10 million pets go missing and over half of them arrive at shelters without identification tags.  When animals are microchipped they can be scanned at almost any animal shelter and their owners can be contacted immediately.  Fortunately Jax is now microchipped and that, coupled with a collar and a loving and supportive family, means his story has ended very happily.  For more information on microchipping, click here.




The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit