Visit Shelters When Searching for a Missing Pet

Monday, October 15, 2012

Visit Shelters When Searching for a Missing Pet

The case of an 8-year-old miniature pincher named Shasta, who sat for a week at a local Humane Society shelter in Jacksonville, Fla. before shelter workers realized the dog’s mom had been searching for the dog at the shelter, highlights problems within the shelter system, but also issues with pet parents.

The problem with shelters involves overcrowded facilities, overworked shelter employees and volunteers. The issue with pet parents is becoming more vigilant in preventing their pets from becoming lost in the first place and going the extra step in searches for them when they do.

When Shasta went missing, the dog’s mom, Sandy Waine-Wright mounted a full-on search, putting up fliers and scouring the neighborhood. She even called the local Humane Society and was told that they didn’t take in pets from off of the street and they didn’t have her dog.

After a few more days, Waine-Wright said she went back to the Humane Society and was again told they didn’t have her beloved Shasta.

It wasn’t until Waine-Wright put a “lost dog” ad on Craig’s List, did someone notify Waine-Wright they thought they had seen Shasta at the Humane Society in one of the outdoor runs.

It’s unfortunate that these mistakes happen, but local municipal animal shelters and Humane Societies across the nation are regularly overcrowded, underfunded and as a result, understaffed.

As one employee told the local news outlet in the story, with 300-400 animals at the facility at any given time, no employee can be expected to remember every single one.

While that may not be an excuse, especially if real tragedy would have happened and this particular shelter felt it had to kill dogs to make room for more, it is a reality in many shelters.

The Humane Society of the United States has a full list of things you can do if your beloved pet goes missing, but here are a few tips:

-First, and most importantly, make sure your dog has a collar with tags and up to date contact information. You should also have your pet micro chipped, ensuring if your pet finds its way into a shelter, rescue or animal clinic that you will be notified. Make sure you keep your contact information up to date.

-If your pet is lost, immediately put a notification on your social media such as Facebook and Twitter and a lost pet ad on Craig’s List. I’ve seen so many pets reunited with their parents within hours due to an aggressive local social media campaign.

-Place a lost pet ad in your local community newspaper.

-Put up fliers around your community and go door to door within your neighborhood and surrounding areas.

-Do not just call your local animal shelters, but go there in person – daily if possible – and ask to see photos of the pets that have been brought in, as well as taking a physical look at the pets residing there, if possible. Check the shelter’s website daily and if necessary, spread your search to a 60 mile radius of your home and leave fliers with all of them. I once knew a family who located their German Shepherd about 50 miles from where the dog went missing.

-Visit all of the local veterinarian’s offices in your area and leave fliers with them.

-Don’t forget to contact the rescues in your area, including breed specific rescues

Editor’s note: Image by Flickr user Ewan-M

Have you ever lost a pet and found it at a local shelter? Share your story.