By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Englewood Sun on April 28, 2013
Suncoast Humane Society along with other animal care and control agencies in our area receive several calls each day from people whose pets have become lost. Sadly, we know there are also many others that have no idea what to do when their pet comes up missing. This is apparent because of the number of lost pets that are never reclaimed. Many of these have been spay/neutered, are wearing collars, and look like they just jumped off someone's couch. We know they belong to someone.
It is true that lost pets with properly recorded micro-chips and those with up-to date license tags can be returned home, however there are so many pets with a human family that have lost them that just sit in shelters waiting for owners that have no idea what to do to find them. It is very sad and frustrating to animal shelter personnel and we know it is very traumatic for the families that are missing them.
It can be time consuming and a little confusing in our area, to find your pet because of the demographics. You'll want to start by filing a lost report with Animal Services in Sarasota County, and Animal Control in Charlotte County. They both have officers who pick up stray and straying animals. You should also contact Suncoast Humane Society and the Animal Welfare League, who accepts animals, including lost pets that are brought into them by the public.
If your pet does not return home almost immediately, you should also go to the shelters and look for yourself. The pet you have tried to describe does not always match what shelter personnel are seeing. Describing some mixed breeds can be tricky. Take a recent photo with you for the shelter to keep on file.
There are also rescue groups and adoption agencies in both counties that someone may turn your pet over too. The Humane Societies and Animal Controls should have a list of those that are known.
Search the neighborhood completely, several times each day. Talk with neighbors, mail carriers, and delivery people. Hand out recent photographs of your pet and leave proper contact information.
Advertise by posting notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, posts at intersections, and pet supply stores. Place a notice in the newspapers and with radio stations. Describe your pet to the best of your ability. Remember the internet and the websites of the shelters that list pets they have found. In fact, Suncoast Humane Society's website, www.humane.org regarding information on lost pets.
Beware of pet recovery scams and people that want money to return your pet. Contact the proper authorities if you become suspicious, especially if you have proof that your pet has been stolen. .
It is tragic to note that only 2 percent of felines and only 15-20 percent of canines are ever reclaimed from animal shelters by their owners. Most that are reclaimed have proper identification. If you are lucky enough to be reunited with your pet, learn from it. Keep your pet indoors and confined or watched when outdoors. Keep proper identification on him/her, including a micro-chip. It is so much better to avoid the heartache of a missing pet.