I have been working on lost and found animals now for seven years straight. Missouri Lost & Found Paws started as a volunteer-based organization in August, 2011. Missouri Lost & Found Paws then formed our non-profit organization to deliver a community based service in 2014.
I can tell you that it can take up to two months at times to find an owner. It is extremely challenging for an owner to find their lost pet.
- Most owners look for their lost pet at the shelter. The thought doesn’t cross their mind that someone may have found their lost pet and is now keeping them within a home environment.
- Many owners assume that the finder will hang signs, while many finders feel it is the responsibility of an owner to hang signs.
- Some Good Samaritans pick up lost animals and transport the pet to the shelter that is closest to their own home, rather than taking the pet to the closest shelter where the pet was found.
- Some individuals post found pets on certain social media sites while the owners have zero awareness. As technology grows, and social media platforms grow, the number of groups/pages/profiles to post and view become unwieldy. Believe it or not, there is still a huge part of our population that doesn’t use social media. Many seniors do not own smart phones and don’t know where to begin looking for their lost pet, and sometimes they are too ill.
- We have seen situations where a pet was lost by a dog sitter and the sitter didn’t notify the family until they returned from vacation (that is a lot of time lost).
- In St Louis County, animals that are found in local municipalities (who are fortunate enough to have a local shelter) only get to stay five days. Then they are transferred to the St Louis County shelter. The average owner has no idea that this process happens.
- Then, there are the animals who are taken to shelters, and placed on what is known as stray hold. After the stray hold period is up, the pet could be placed up for adoption, picked up by a rescue group or euthanized. Many shelters close by 5 pm which makes it challenging for owners to check shelters due to work schedules.
- There are those situations where owners call the shelter looking for their lost pet, who they describe as a shepherd mix. The shelter responds that they do not have any pets matching a shepherd mix, when in actuality, the dog was there because they labeled the pet as a lab mix.
- We have situations where the family pet was sitting at the shelter but the shelter employees didn’t know because they they are inundated with the vast number of incoming animals daily.
I could go on and on with more true life situations which add to the complexity of an owner trying to find their beloved pet. It is a daunting task and truthfully, it requires all of us working together to cover as many bases as possible to give every animal the chance to get back home. There is power in numbers, we all know this and have seen the good that can come from people working together. We must work together to help owners of lost pets, and those who have found pets. You are just one piece of the very large puzzle to reunite a lost or found pet.
I can’t tell you how many owners I have listened to crying, mourning and being devastated over their lost pet. Many mourn with each passing month that the whereabouts of their beloved family member is unknown. Not to mention, there are a lot of children crying over their lost fur sibling.
If we pull together as a community and help one another, we can get them home. We are achieving this with many, many animals each day on Missouri Lost & Found Paws. Join the movement to help fellow Missourians reunite lost and found pets. They need our help. Please. Help us help them get home.