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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : pet corner November 25, 2015

7/9/2009 6:39:00 PM
What to do when you lose or find an animal
The Verde Valley Humane Society
The Verde Valley Humane Society "Pet of the Week" is "Hummer" a beautiful little orange tabby kitten. His adoption fee has been discounted by $20 thanks to a generous donor.

Sandra Trautman
Verde Valley Humane Society

First let's talk about what steps you should take if you lose your animal. It can happen even with the greatest of care being used.

A door may be left open and our furry "best friend" may decide to explore the outdoors. This experience can be just as frightening to them as it is to us.

When you realize that your pet has escaped, the normal reaction is to panic. It is very important that you calm yourself and develop your plan of action.

The first step you need to take is to call VVHS at 634-7387 (634-pets) and file a "lost pet report." If your animal comes in there is hope that the two of you will reconnect.

Also call the other shelters in the area. Animals can cover a great deal of territory in a very short time.

Sedona Humane can be reached at 282-4679 and the Prescott Pound can be reached at (928) 778-7701. Try calling the local vets to see if they know the animal.

If your pet has proper identification your mission may not be quite as difficult. At VVHS we scan every animal coming in.

This is why a micro chip helps reunite owners and their pets better than a collar with tags. .

Often a collar with an ID tag on it has been lost during the animal's adventure in the outdoors.

If you would like to get your pet micro chipped, please call us at 634-7387 to set up an appointment.

When you begin your search for your lost pet, it is important to know that if you live in the Verde Villages, that area is considered County, not Cottonwood.

Your animal may be taken to the Prescott Pound instead of VVHS. The officer decides where the animal is going, not VVHS.

The next thing on your agenda should be to grab a friend or a neighbor and start looking in places that your pet might be hiding.

Comb the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Take some treats or you pet's favorite toys, remember that they are just as scared as you are.

Stop and talk to everyone you see and describe your animal. How about the UPS driver and the mail carrier?

They see many things as they go through the day. Be assertive in your mission. If at all possible, take flyer with a picture of your pet with you and possibly a number where you can be reached.

Your next step should be to post those "missing pet" fliers everywhere that gets traffic going in and out.

Grocery stores, gas stations and any place with a bulletin board should display one of your flyers.

Check with your local city ordinances before posting on any poles. Often you see signs that are posted on utility poles, but that may not be legal in your area.

Many times you can't read the wording or see the picture. Make sure they are visible with thick writing.

These posters should be very noticeable to drivers. For safety reasons, don't put your name or address on the fliers.

Just give your phone number and vicinity in which your pet was lost. Place these fliers everywhere you go.

Next you want to visit all of the shelters where you put in a missing pet report. Take a picture for the staff to see and post on the bulletin board.

Remember, staff members will do their best to help you find your animal, but it's your job to keep making the rounds to look for your animal.

Try placing an ad in the local newspapers. Withhold one or two features about your pet, so that if someone calls you, there will be a way for you to know that they have your pet.

At VVHS, more than 35 percent of all dogs that are impounded are claimed by their owners. Approximately 2 percent of cats are claimed.

How could you not know or care that your animal is missing? Why would you not look for him or her?

What would keep you from trying to find them? Is it simply because you don't know what to do? Let's work together and increase these figures over the next year.

Cat owners; don't assume that the coyotes got your little friend. Obviously they don't get them all.

VVHS is continuously full of stray cats, just like dogs. With approximately two percent of the cats being returned to their owners tells us that things need to change.

Please understand that VVHS does not pick up any animals. Animals are picked up by officers from local Law Enforcement Agencies or by concerned citizens.

When animals come into VVHS they are scanned, checked for ID tags, temperament tested and then placed outside in a clean stocked kennel.

Animals then wait for five days waiting to be claimed by their owners. If they picked up in that time frame, they are brought inside and placed up for adoption.

If your animal is at VVHS, we're sorry to say that it can't be a "free service" which is sometimes thought.

Animal shelters and Humane Societies all over the United States have to charge for their services. It takes money to care for the animals and pay a staff.

Think about it, would you rather your lost animal be running the streets and possibly get hit by a car or attacked by another animal? Most people are very thankful that their animal has been so well cared for.

Finding your animal is your responsibility. Be diligent in your search. Don't give up after a couple of days.

Always remember that animals can cover an enormous amount of land in a very short time. Time is of the essence, so to speak.

It's your job to find that lost family member. Leaving your lost pet in the shelter because it ran away is an appalling thing to do.

Walk through our doors and see how many animals have never been looked for. If you have a heart, be prepared to see one of the most astonishing things you have ever envisioned.

You will see cage after cage filled with wonderful animals that no one ever claimed.

It doesn't matter how long I have been here, it's something that I will never understand or become accustomed to. Please, look for your pet. You owe it to them.

So you found an animal? Let's talk about what you should do. Before I go on I have to say that you have no right to keep the animal.

Think about it. What if your own pet got out of the house and someone decided that they just wanted to keep it?

That makes you stop and think, now doesn't it? It doesn't mean that if no one claims the animal that you can't adopt it.

It just means if someone is looking for their animal it isn't right for you to claim it as your own.

On several occasions people have called in after keeping a found animal for a period of time and it hasn't worked out as they hoped.

By AZ State Statutes after six consecutive days that animal becomes yours and then there is a chance there won't be any room for an owner owned animal.

There is also a fee involved at that point and those animals come in when there is availability.

Shelters all over the U.S. are overcrowded with stray animals. If you find an animal and would like to foster it while you wait to see if it is claimed, that can be arranged through many shelters.

Please do things the honest way. Report that you have found the animal so it can possibly go back to the heartsick family it came from.

First of all call VVHS and other shelters in proximity to your home and file a "found dog or cat" report.

If the animal has been reported lost, it will be very easy for us to reunite the owner and the animal, often without even having to impound the scared little creature.

Next take flyers around the neighborhood with a picture of the found pet on them and a number to call.

Post them the same as if you would have lost the pet yourself. Make them visible to the public.

For safety reasons, it's always a good idea to leave out a piece of information that only the owner would know.

We don't want that cute little teacup Chihuahua going home with someone it has never seen before.

Call your newspapers and ask if they list found animals at a minimal fee or at no charge.

I don't know about you but I would be happy to pay the fee for an ad that a kind citizen placed which helped me find my pet.

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