The Path Ahead Animal Shelter Consulting

The official blog of The Path Ahead Animal Shelter Consulting

Infrastructure building, Lifesaving programs, Management team support

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lost and found ... or not.

In Northern California alone, over 320,000 animals enter shelters every year. Roughly 75%, or 240,000, are "strays." Of those lost pets, roughly 80%, or 192,000, will never see their owners again.*

We don't know of any shelter that wants more animals, yet 192,000 is a lot to impound, vaccinate, feed, clean up after, treat medically, spay/neuter, hold for days, weeks, months, then ultimately adopt out or euthanize. Why, then, are shelters not making more effort to find owners? Unfortunately, as discussed in a previous post, "That's the way we've always done it" plays a big part. Animal is brought in to the shelter, shelter collects information on the finder and the animal. Animal is processed (scanned, vaccinated, checked for major injury or illness), animal is kenneled. If the animal has no ID, that's pretty much all that will happen. The animal will sit in a cage in a shelter that may be 25-50 miles from the location it was found. The photo may or may not be posted online. The shelter may be open very limited hours and may not have a good phone system. If an owner of a missing pet does get through to a live person, they may not give out information over the phone, requiring them to come to the shelter and search in person. If they do make the trip -- and they're at the right shelter, as some Counties have as many as nine agencies with a dizzying array of jurisdictional responsibilities -- they may not see their animal because strays are often locked away in back rooms, and there is no way of knowing this unless the owner checks in with staff, which they often don't if no one is around to help or if there is a big line.

Is it any wonder that so few animals are found and reclaimed?

Shelters that are taking a proactive approach to lost pet prevention and recovery (LPPR) are experiencing double and triple the rates of reclaim as other shelters. Because of this success, they do not become overcrowded and can spend their resources taking better care of the animals that truly need to find new homes. Would you like to start an LPPR program? We can help.

* These figures are based on 2013 data collected from 115 agencies in Northern California. Because the quality and method of reporting varies widely from agency to agency, these numbers are not exact, but at least they give us a ball park idea of animal shelter intake and outcome.

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