Who -- What --
Where -- Why -- How
WHICH FACILITY MAY EVENTUALLY
GET YOUR PET AND WHY
Applicable to any U.S. area --
Applicable to some International areas
Lost Pets - attitudes,
Where lost pets go; animal behaviors; statistics; problems
Which facility may eventually get your pet and
You are here
Section III tips:
If -- and that is
definitely an "if" -- if someone
picks up your pet, and if you do not
connect with all pounds and
all Humane Societies and all no-kill
shelters in your wide area, you
will not know whether he or she has
already been processed.
Find all of these facilities; do not rely on
others until you have first
verified for yourself (ask to see all
impoundment records from
the date your pet was lost).
How to search for a lost pet
Example Search Schedule,
How to change the lost and surrendered pet system
Our information has been carefully checked many
times, from many angles; however, laws change, facilities change,
numbers change, situations change.
Everything you read here about the lost pet
impoundment system can be verified or proven erroneous as you work to
find your pet; you
will find tips here on how to verify information as you learn how to
accomplish a serious search.
We encourage you to verify verify verify.
Some information in this report is difficult to cope with and not for
the faint of heart; plan for an efficient search; it can take weeks or
months to find the lost.
Although this document is written
mostly in reference to dogs and cats, the principles can be applied to
other critters as well. Use your best judgment regarding your particular
lost pet and conduct your search accordingly.
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Ask others to link to this website lost pet
ask them to visit;
ask them to let friends, family, neighbors know about these documents.
Spreading the word about how extremely difficult it can be to find a
lost pet may help pet owners keep tighter control of the animals they
This, in turn, can help cut down on the numbers of pets killed each
A. ANIMAL IMPOUNDMENT
The animal impoundment system (animal control) in any county, city, or
greater-metro area exists for several
1. To keep the public safe from stray animals;
2. to eliminate nuisance conditions
(i.e. pets running loose);
3. to protect animals from harm;
4. in some agencies, to provide additional income (as in the
case of animals which are sold from an impoundment facility for
5. In the case of areas where pets are required to be licensed,
to help keep track of numbers of pets and to hopefully identify who
their owners are.
B. MUNICIPALITIES. Unless otherwise
mandated, each city/municipality is responsible for its own animal control.
As an example of what that means, in a given metro area
consisting of 5 to 10 counties and perhaps 2 million to 3 million
residents, there can be well over 100 municipalities, more or
less, with each deciding how stray animals will be controlled and who
will do the work.
What constitutes a "municipality", a "metro area", or a
"wide-area" for your search purposes? In this report, we have used the
terms "city" and "municipality" interchangeably, with "municipality"
also meaning small urban cities, villages, or communities. If you live
in a city of any size, your "metro area" is the entire metropolitan area
in which you live, encompassing all cities, suburbs, municipalities, and
sometimes several counties. A "wide-area" for search purposes would
include your metro area, or in the case of a rural pet loss, it may
include towns, townships, farm communities, and one or more counties.
Continued below ....
For purposes of a lost pet search, no boundaries or borders have any
significance whatsoever, except that such boundaries may mean more
impoundment facilities, more police departments, more sanitation
departments, more other places to search.
C. TIMING AND DISPOSAL. Federal law requires that animals be impounded for only 5
days before euthanizing, selling, or surrendering for research. Nowadays, many
shelters and impoundment agencies keep dogs and cats longer, but many
cannot due to lack of space and/or lack of funding. Since lost pets can end
up far from home, it's not possible to determine what might happen -- whether
the pet will end up in a distant pound or shelter that keeps pets for a long
period, whether the pet will end up in a facility that sells for research after
5 days, whether it will be euthanized within 7 days, or whether the pet will not
end up in an agency at all. There simply are no guarantees.
RESEARCH. Private facilities such as humane societies, some kennels, and no-kill
shelters are not required to surrender for research. Government-owned facilities
such as city and county pounds are required to, but some find ways to
get around the requirement.
Some kennels which raise
animals for sale to the general public also act as municipal animal
impoundment facilities. Because they would then be operating under the
auspices of a government agency, they may be required under Federal law to sell for
research. If so, such kennels must have a Federal license. In that
event, not only are they licensed to sell those animals
they specifically raise for research, but if your personal pet ends up impounded in
that private kennel, he too could go for research. In addition, properly
licensed individuals may
sell for research.
For related impoundment
details and statistics, also see Section II, items I through L
AND FACILITY COORDINATION. Most of us believe there is some kind of a system in place
to help our pets and to help us in the event of a loss.
We know there are
state, county, and municipal ordinances, and we assume these ordinances
are designed to tie everything together for the welfare of lost and
We believe this,
because we know there are good, functional humane shelters. We know
there are good, functional animal pounds. We believe since there are such agencies out there, that they -- both
similar and dissimilar agencies -- coordinate among themselves. It is true that
nowadays with more understandings about how important pets are to many
residents, and with better communication available via the internet, some
agencies actually do coordinate. But it is still not a
system-wide accomplishment. So what we end up with is a huge fragmented system
full of search-and-coordinate problems for the pet owner who has lost a beloved animal.
F. ANIMAL CONTROL, SHELTERS, RESEARCH.
There are various types of animal-holding facilities, and
there are various ways animals will get to those facilities. The
majority of animals taken in by facilities are dogs and cats, but other
animals may also be impounded or sheltered, such as birds, rodents, reptiles,
farm animals, exotics.
1. Government impoundment facilities are animal pounds
operated or controlled by some kind of government agency, such as a city
or county. Such an animal impoundment facility is responsible for
picking up and impounding stray animals, and normally is not involved in cruelty
issues if there is a Humane Society/SPCA in the area. The government facility
may have employees who are hired as animal wardens; or it might contract
with a private animal warden; or the agency may contract with another
facility, especially if they do not already have a building or proper
space of their own. In addition to picking up and impounding strays, government
impoundment facilities also accept animals from the general public. An
animal brought in by someone from the general public might be owned by
that person or it might be a stray. In some metro areas, some facilities
will go out to pick up an animal which a resident is unable to deliver;
again, such animals may be owner-animals, or they might be strays.
Being government employees, police may do some animal pick-ups, as may sheriff's
departments -- especially on highways and freeways, when required,
and/or when authorized.
If authorized, they might deliver strays -- especially
injured, ill, or deceased strays -- to the municipality's facility. If
the ordinance prohibits police delivery, then the police or sheriff may
or may not wait at the
location for the animal warden to arrive. Whether an animal arrives at
the facility in good shape, ill, or deceased, it will still likely be
added to an intake list. Highway departments and sanitation departments
will sometimes pick up deceased pets found on streets and roadways; in this event, records are
normally not kept, and the body is simply disposed of.
2. Municipality and county policies: Most
municipalities, at least those in large metro areas, have some way to
control stray animals, although some do not. If they do not, then it is
up to the local residents to tend to ill, injured or hungry strays
and/or to provide them with shelter. If an animal is found on a highway
that would be outside of the municipality's district and would be
handled by the sheriff's office, if at all; if found in outlying county
areas, then if any pickup of a living dog or cat is done in a
non-managed area, it would normally be done by the sheriff's office. If
on a Federal highway, this might be handled by State Patrol.
3. A Humane Society is different from an animal pound, in
that it is typically mandated by the State to handle animal cruelty
complaints as well as to accept animals into their shelter. They
typically are not allowed to pick up strays, unless there is an
immediate humane or animal cruelty concern. It could be that some humane
shelters are licensed by a municipality for animal control, but we are not aware
of any at this time. The humane agencies are often over-loaded
with excess pets, and normally destroy those which cannot be adopted
out. Although it is typical for a Humane SocietySPCA to adopt out animals
surrendered by their owners, they are often hesitant to adopt out
strays, and for good reason: With an owner animal, there is information
immediately available including health, medical history, temperament,
age, etc, whereas with a stray animal, none of that information is
available. The stray may be pregnant, not be trust-worthy with kids,
have a disease, not be housebroken, not get along with other pets, and
so forth. Humane Societies are unlikely to sell for research, although
they are not prevented from doing so by Federal law.
4. A private no-kill shelter is similar to a Humane
Society/SPCA, but it does not euthanize adoptable animals. It will, however,
euthanize animals for health reasons, or for serious issues rendering
the animal un-adoptable. It also does not have authority to pick
up strays nor to investigate cruelty complaints, and instead will get
animals surrendered to them by the general public. If a no-kill shelter has facilities in which to house pets,
it typically must be licensed. If it does not have a facility license, then it is
common for them to place animals in foster homes until adoption (this
type of shelter is commonly referred to as animal rescue, and is
typically tied to a specific breed or type). There may be some
circumstances where animal rescue must also be licensed, with or without
5. Private Kennels and Individuals. Kennels (and
catteries) are normally facilities
which raise animals for sale. Some are also contracted by municipalities
or counties to impound stray animals. Some also raise animals for research, and
have a Federal license to sell to research labs. If a private kennel
acts as an impoundment facility, it has a right to sell impounded animals which are not claimed by their
owners. If the kennel also is licensed to sell to research labs, the
unclaimed pets may be legally sold to research labs. A kennel may hire its own animal warden, it may contract out to
a private warden, it may also contract with one or more holding facilities.
Individual dealers may also retain animals for resale and research.
6. Veterinary hospitals will sometimes contract to act as
impoundment facilities for municipalities which do not have their own
pounds. As such, they may also sell for research if licensed to do so;
and they may contract out as holding facilities for private animal
wardens. Impoundment laws and activities which apply to other facilities also apply
to such veterinary facilities.
7. Research Labs which use animals in research typically prefer
which have specifically been raised for research purposes, since there
is a better chance of the size and temperament being acceptable.
However, purchasing research dogs and cats from a kennel or cattery can
be extremely expensive, so Federal law requires that government
impoundment facilities surrender impounded animals to research labs which request
them, which is typically much less expensive for the labs. However, this
also means that lost pets which are not claimed by their owners can go
for research, depending on which animal pound or shelter they may
eventually end up in, if they in fact end up in a shelter or pound.
Some government impoundment facilities, such as some
city pounds, although mandated to sell for research, find ways to avoid
doing so. Other pounds, depending on management or city ordinance, prefer
to sell for research in order to acquire the additional funding from
To determine who sells for research in your area, get a
copy of the Federal Register for research labs and dealers by
contacting your local Federal office.
Click here if you have your own website and would
like to link to animal-pounds.com
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- End of Section III - Which facility may get your
pet and why
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