Who are you guys?
2007 calendar puppy scottish terrier
With so many people passing through holiday homes, pets can get lost in the shuffle.
If an animal goes missing, the chances of it being reunited with its owner depends on you – the would-be hero.
Experts can offer a few tips for handling lost pets.
First, look for signs that the animal has a home. A collar, tags on that collar, a harness or even a little jacket are clues that someone is missing that pet. It might have just escaped. However, an animal with a thin frame or scruffy coat could have been fending for itself for a while.
Be cautious of strays, says Nancy Peterson, with the Humane Society of the United States. Any animal on the streets can be afraid and dangerous if it feels threatened.
Try to coax a stray into approaching you rather than approaching it, she says. Immediately report a sick or vicious animal to your local animal- control department.
Dianna Croce found a dog near Sloan’s Lake earlier this month. She quickly put up signs around the park but after several days, she still has the animal.
“My number is still out there,” Croce says. “I just hope somebody sees it.”
Experts advise against simply keeping a stray animal.
“A lot of people feel that if they find a stray, it’s theirs and they are entitled to it,” says Joseph Andrew Sapia, co-author of “The Complete Guide to Lost Pet Prevention and Recovery” (2002, Atlantic Highlands).
Instead, take the animal to a veterinarian, a no-kill shelter, a rescue group or an animal day-care center. If you hope to keep the animal, ask to be notified if it isn’t claimed.
Once a pet goes missing, it’s important that both the owner and the rescuer act fast. Owners should start the search immediately, no matter whether it’s a cat, dog or ferret. Rescuers and owners both can post signs in the immediate area, and search the classified section in local publications.
Ads can be placed in newspapers – often for free in lost and found sections. The Internet has become a pet-rescue resource, too. Photos of lost and found pets fill websites such as petfinder
and Craigslist. When posting such a notice, experts suggest withholding some details about the animal. They can be used to verify that a respondent is the animal’s true owner.
To prevent indoor pets from getting lost, pet advocates push microchipping and remind owners that pets always should wear collars.
“I can’t tell you how many indoor pets wind up in shelters,” says Linda Houlihan, associate director of communications at the Dumb Friends League. “Indoor pets slip out of open doors or jump out of cars all the time. Microchipping, even if it’s an indoor cat, is a good idea.”
Janie Kildahl has rescued countless animals as the self-appointed caretaker of her block in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood. The stay-at-home mom is constantly on the lookout for neighborhood problems, be they potholes or roaming pets in need.
After caring for animals her entire life, Kildahl knows that she should lower her voice to a soft, comforting pitch and squat down almost to eye level when she finds an animal on the street.
She has pets of her own, so Kildahl isolates strays in her garage or backyard to prevent fighting or the potential spread of disease. She gives the lost animal plenty of water, but only a little food, just in case it has allergies. If there is identification, she calls the animal’s owner.
Charlie Shisler put an ad on Craiglist two weeks ago after she found a lost Scottish terrier. People often use the site’s “community bulletin board” for this purpose. While the owner has not yet contacted her, Shisler says she has received responses from a rescue organization and from people who want the dog if the owners aren’t located.
The Humane Society of the United States reminds pet owners who move that they must update their animal’s tags and the contact information stored with microchip company databases. Doing so will make it easier for anyone who finds the animal to be in touch.
Kildahl knows the difficulty of trying to connect with elusive pet owners.
“I took in two dogs I found running around Peoria” Street, she recalls. “When I tried to call the number on the tags, (it) had been disconnected. That is very frustrating.”
When Kildahl finds a pet after hours, she drops it off in overnight kennels at the Dumb Friends League’s Quebec Street shelter. Water and blankets are provided there until the shelter reopens the following day.
Cats tend to get short shrift when it comes to responsible ownership. People tend to look for dogs sooner while cats roam free. Dogs get collars, tags and microchips. Cats often don’t get either. About a fifth of dogs who enter shelters are reunited with owners compared with only 3 percent of cats, according to the national Humane Society.
Last year, the Dumb Friends League reunited 2,425 dogs with owners but only 375 cats, a statistic that needs change.
People who have lost pets also tend to scale back their search if the animal hasn’t been reclaimed in about two weeks, according to found-pets.
But successes can and do happen.
Kayde Pierce’s multiprong solution helped reunite an old, lost black Lab with her owner. She posted dozens of signs and several notices on Craigslist, in the “pets section,” as well as the “lost and found section.” A vet scanned the dog for a microchip and was able to reach the owner.
“He had been calling the local shelters,” Pierce said. “Up until now I hadn’t microchipped my dogs, but I will do so now for that extra piece of mind.”
MORE ONLINE: Read this writer’s firsthand account of losing her dogs, and share your own lost and found story. blogs.denverpost/homegirls
The Humane Society of the United States has answers to the following concerns about the technology. For more information, visit hsus.
What issues surround microchipping?
Each company that creates microchips has its own scanners that can read only the signal emitted from their microchips. The scanner from one company may not be able to detect the microchip from another manufacturer, indicating to shelter or veterinarian staff that the lost animal is not microchipped when in fact it is.
Should a pet still be microchipped?
Yes. Identification tags are your pet’s first ticket home if he becomes lost, but microchips provide an extra level of protection.
This article has been corrected in this online archive. Originally, due to inaccurate information provided by two sources it said there is not a “universal” scanner for pet-identification microchips. In fact, two companies, ResQ and HomeAgain, have provided 60,000 universal chip scanners to animal shelters, animal-control agencies and veterinary hospitals in the United States.