Humane Societies have estimated that more than 10 million dogs and cats go missing each year in the United States.
Although there are strays that don’t have homes, there are plenty of strays who have owners searching for them daily. I couldn’t imagine losing my dog and going days without finding him. This is not only devastating to the owners, these pets are desperately trying to find their way home. The number one option people take when finding stray cats or dogs is to take them to their local animal shelters. Is this the best option for missing pets though?
I happen to follow several pages for missing pets and animal shelters around my area in case I can help locate a missing pet for an owner. Recently, one of my local shelters posted a photo of what looked like a Chihuahua mix. This dog was just a puppy wearing a pink collar and bell. The puppy looked extremely scared in the photo and of course people were sharing to see if they could help find the owners. The shelter posted the photo on February 22nd and commented on the photo on February 26th saying “She has not be reclaimed. She will be available for adoption Tuesday at noon.” The shelter decided within 4 days the puppy would go up for adoption and gave the owners a total of 6 days to find this puppy.
While there are so many people who are willing to help find the owners, there are a large amount of comments expressing their interest in adopting the puppy for themselves. It is great to see the interest in adopting these pets. Situations can occur where the owners purposely let the dog go. However, in most cases the owners are out there desperately trying to find their pet. What if the owners don’t have social media? What if it’s an elderly couple or person that is just looking in the immediate area? What if the dog traveled into a different state? What if you were missing your pet and didn’t know a shelter only gave your pet 4 days before finding new owners?
In most shelters, they give between 72 hours to 6 days before putting a stray animal up for adoption.
These incidents happen daily and unfortunately, there isn’t much owners can do about it. There was a news story not too long ago about a woman who was searching for her dog every day for over a month. Her dog ended up at a shelter who never checked for a microchip (which the dog had) and the dog was adopted by new owners.
There are so many helpful people and families willing to foster animals from the shelters. If the shelters would find foster homes for animals that may have owners searching for them and gave owners more time to look for their pet, then more of these pets would have a chance to get back to their rightful owners. Truthfully, there are times that I think it’s better just to report the missing dog to local shelters with photos in case owners call the shelters first. However, if you find a missing pet either give it a home yourself or find friends, family, neighbors, etc. that could foster it for a little while. That is much better than handing it over to the shelter that is looking to put it up for adoption almost immediately.
I fully believe in adopting pets from animal shelters, I think it is the best thing you can do when wanting a new pet. Quick tip, try to do research on how long the shelter had the animal, if there’s any indication the pet may have a previous owner, whether it was surrendered or found, and if it was found, how long did they keep it before posting it’s adoption. Too many people spend days, months, and even years searching for lost pets. It needs to become easier and go beyond just social media to locate these animals. I’m sure not every shelter reacts this way to newly found animals. However, if more people can be aware of these situations for the shelters that do this after finding a lost animal, then maybe more people can lend a helping hand. Try to help find the owners, foster the pet to give owners a longer chance, and if after a month or two there’s still absolutely no sign of an owner, then consider putting it up for adoption.
These animals need help getting back home and that’s not going to happen if they are given to new owners within a couple days. Please be careful when finding a lost animal and make sure it gets the proper amount of time to potentially be reunited with his or her owners.
I did contact my local shelter and asked to foster the puppy while I put up photos in the surrounding area. Whether or not they get back to me will be a mystery but the puppy went up for adoption, February 28th at noon. I am still hoping they will give me the chance to foster this puppy and look for its owners for a significant amount of time before letting new owners take the puppy. I can’t promise this little girl won’t be adopted by new owners but if you recognize this puppy she was found in Chartiers Township of Pennsylvania.
Featured image via Unsplash