It used to be that the lost pet search began with a trip to the local animal shelter. If people found a pet they would bring it in, and if there was no shelter, they would hang posters and care for the pet while they searched. Basically if someone was looking for their pet they knew where to go. Owners with good intentions may have had their pets collared with tags, but things can happen and pets can lose tags.
Years passed and micro chipping was introduced. It was a bit slow to catch on but eventually the few chip brands met with more and more competitors vying for the market. Now when you scan a pet, it is cause for your heart to race when you see a number register on the scanner! Happy reunions… just what everyone wants! But sometimes the phone numbers, addresses, and emergency contact info are all outdated. All too often the pet has been given away or “rehomed” numerous times. Even more often are finders who only can provide the picture we just posted on Facebook as their proof of ownership. No purchase papers, no adoption papers, no veterinary records or license tags. Sometimes several people will come and claim an animal to be “theirs” and the pet itself is oblivious to any of them. Oh the joys of trying to do the right thing.
Shelters across the country were always perilously overfilled. I recall attending a Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies conference in the 90’s. Someone involved in pet rescue introduced a book they had compiled of rescue organizations for a variety of dog breeds. Their pitch was simple. If you have any of the breeds of dogs listed, purebred or a “good mix”, before you have to make that gut wrenching decision to euthanize for space…call them. It didn’t matter the age or health or temperament. And call we did. And the rescues grew. And they filled. It wasn’t the shelter or the rescue’s fault. Animals have long been considered disposable goods. But someone has to be blamed, and quite often the animal control shelters and humane societies continued to take the heat. Add the “no kill” movement from the 60’- 90’s and the technology to reach far outside our little neighborhoods and Sara McLaughlin singing songs that make everyone want to adopt until the commercial ends, and more animal loving people connected. And can we ever forget the contributions of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective?
My dog is micro chipped. I keep his information current. I keep tags on his collar. If my dog should ever become lost , I will go to the very nearest shelter to look for him, and call the police, and hang posters, and search, and do all the right things. Then I will pray he didn’t somehow lose his collar. But his microchip is good, right? But wait, what if he got dirty out running or he’s acted afraid and cowered at a helping hand because he is frightened from being away from home? Will it be determined I was a bad owner and the finder opts to forget the microchip? Or because he will jump into anyone’s car, I will pray they take him to the shelter so I can find him. Or will they call the shelter because he is so adorable, refusing to bring him in for a scan and simply asking “did anyone call to report a dog missing?” and not want to share any info about him.
What if they heard the multitude of untruths about humane societies? Fearing the shelter will euthanize him as fast as they can? What if I miss calling one of the social media groups for owners of lost pets, animals shelters and animal control agencies so more pets could be reunited?
Petkey.org, petfbi.org, lostfoundpets.us, findtoto.com, fidofinder.com, petfinder.com, thecenterforlostpets.com, missingpet.net, petamberalert.com, lostmydoggie.com, findingrover.com, petharbor.com, lostdogsofamerica.org, craigslist.com, and a myriad of Facebook pages for garage sales or lost cats, lost cats and dogs, lost dogs. Oh, and let’s not forget the “rehome my pet” sites. Shelters just can’t check incoming animals against their own lost pet data base. We now have come to realize that even a surrendered pet may be a pet whose owner is still looking but missed one of the “dots”. We have to somehow find the time to look through all the months of pictures posted on a dozen or more sites…just in case.
A Delaware rescuer explained that the behaviors of the owner, the pet, and rescuer all contribute to the success of a pet recovery.
Somewhere along the journey caring people stopped working together. What we truly need is less emotion and ego and more working for the greater good. We need to work together on each pet and work together toward a full state wide database of missing and found pets that fully incorporates shelters, animal control facilities, veterinarians, individuals and all the dot coms, dot orgs, and dot nets.
Our animals are worth it.