How to change the lost pet system for animal shelters and pounds (logo here), lost dogs and lost cats; and other lost pets, too

Make impoundment obsolete.

Applicable to any U.S. area -- Applicable to some International areas
Who -- What -- Where -- Why -- How


Applicable to any U.S. area --  Applicable to some International areas

    I.  Lost Pets - attitudes, issues, beliefs
   II.   Where lost pets go; animal behaviors; statistics; problems
  III.   Which facility may eventually get your pet and why
  IV.  How to search for a lost pet
   V.  Example Search Schedule, Simplified
  VI.  How to change the system You are here

          Section VI tip:
The pet impoundment system is a mess.
          Most agencies are trying to fix it but the fact is we still kill millions
          of lost and abandoned dogs and cats every year.

          In this section
, here are example questions to ask yourself:
What happens to pets in pounds, shelters, etc.?
          How do I find the numbers; how do I prove them?          
          What can one person easily do?
          Many answers are found throughout this website.

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. Read this entire website, all dozen or so main pages, to have your best chance at success.

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.

printer friendly page - Section VI - How to change the system

Ask others to link to this website lost pet info;
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 love.

This, in turn, can help cut down on the numbers of pets killed each year.


what can you do to accomplish changes
in your area, your county or your state?

Will your own circumstances allow you to:

--Push for legal changes.
--Volunteer to conduct educational classes in schools.
--Conduct night-school classes for adults (schools, community centers, churches, etc.).
--Devise, sell, or distribute educational products or services designed to increase awareness.
--Push for animal friendly license plates with a portion of the proceeds to be used for very low-cost spay/neuter programs.
--Purchase educational products and give to friends, relatives, neighbors who need to know.
--Provide (anonymous?) gentle informational notes to neighbors who don’t “get it”, and who are putting their pets at extra high-risk. Keep in mind that sending some notes through the mail may be illegal; perhaps a door note would be appropriate for a situation you are aware of.
--Mobilize or join a “Gang of Good People” to aid strays and other suffering animals.

Change the system by first understanding it. Review all information in this document before beginning your friendly attack. Also be sure to research other sites online.

Although most of the information on preceding pages is geared to finding a lost pet, almost all of the details also apply to helping a lost pet which you have found, and they also apply to finding ways to change the lost and surrendered pet system.

If, instead of personally aiding strays, you choose to delve deep into the pet-kill story in your area with an eye toward changing what is happening to pets, this section can be helpful.  Find out who does what, why, when, where, and exactly what happens to pets as a result of your local laws and ordinances.  Also, research your state and federal laws and learn how animals are hurt every day by myriad regulations. In this section, you will find questions to ask as you do your research.

B. GUIDELINES. Similar to procedures for finding a lost pet, here are guidelines for learning impoundment and shelter details about your area:

Get a good local street atlas which lists every municipality in your several-county area.  Compare this list with your local phone book(s), and ferret out the phone number for each municipality (it’s possible not all will be easy to find).

As you work on deciding what you can do to help, check this out when you need a  fun break:  This is a link for all the popular home, garage, pet, and roof gutter robotic vacuum styles available. Cute~! Our site will stay open so you can come back to study more.

Call every single municipality and ask the following:
Who impounds stray pets in your area?  (It’s possible the answer will be
     “no one”, since some municipalities have no impoundment laws). Most,
      however, do.
2.  What is the name, address, and phone number of your local animal
     impoundment facility?
3.  Is this a city-operated pound or is it run by a contractor?
Continued below ....

Example metro area: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. This metro area is often assumed to have only “several” cities. In reality, it has something like 176 large and small close-packed municipalities scattered throughout a 7-county area, plus many more in the greater 13-county expanded metro area. If you live in a reasonably-large metro area such as this, you may be surprised to learn you could have as many as 60 or more “agencies” picking up, impounding, and/or sheltering strayed animals. Of course, in larger, more-complex, and more-populous metro areas, the number could be far larger.

D. FACILITY QUESTIONS. In addition to the above very basic questions to ask of municipalities, you will also want to ask the following questions of the animal facilities themselves. Most facilities operate according to the individual municipality’s ordinances, and those regulations may be different in each municipality:

  Who actually goes out and picks up the animals? (city employee?  contractor?  Police --- from which municipality?)

 Where are healthy animals kept? (Ask for the facility name, address and phone number).

3.   Where are dead bodies held? Are people who have lost pets told about and allowed to view them?

4.  Where are ill or injured animals kept?  Are all persons looking for a lost pet told about the ill and injured areas and allowed to view them?

5.  Who keeps inventory of each area, and are visitors allowed to see all of the lists (cats, dogs, ill/injured, dead, calls from people having lost or found pets)? Are visitors told to view all lists since mistakes can happen (dogs on cat lists, cats on dog lists; wrong gender, wrong breed, wrong color, wrong or no collar)?

6.  Do you have a veterinarian on staff for ill and injured animals?  How often does the veterinarian visit the facility?  Does the veterinarian come in immediately for emergency care?  On weekends or holidays?  Who takes care of ill and injured when no veterinarian is available?  What happens if an animal is brought in with massive injuries on a Thursday night of a four-day holiday weekend?

7.  Who hand-feeds baby animals or others unable to eat on their own?  (Or are water and dry food simply put into food dishes and if they eat they eat, if they don’t they don’t?).

8.  How long are healthy animals kept?  Ill or injured?

9.  How many animals were impounded last year?

10.  How does this facility euthanize (“humanely kill”)?  
--lethal injection (ask which kind … the kind that paralyzes
       the animal for a few minutes before it dies; or the 
       kind that immediately renders the animal unconscious;
       is the shot given in the leg, heart, or elsewhere?)
--gas (ask for details).
--decompression chamber (ask for details). 
--electrocution (ask for details).
--other (ask for details).

11.  What happens to animals when their time is up (list separately for cats, dogs, other species):
% adopted
% claimed by owners
% DOA (dead on arrival)
% surrendered for research*
% euthanized 
% other (ask if they have “other” categories and what they are).

*Federal law requires government pounds to surrender animals for research (not all obey – ask your local impoundment facilities if they do or do not, and how they avoid it).  For a list of legally-registered research labs which use animals in research, as well as animal suppliers, call your Federal offices and ask for the Federal Register of research labs and dealers.

12. Who euthanizes the animals?
--experienced staff
--entry-level employees
--other? (ask) 

13. How are the dead bodies disposed of?
--burial (where?) 
--rendering plant
--other (ask).
     *Note: When a pet dies and is cremated, ashes returned to the owner might be a mix of all animals cremated at that time. To ensure that only your own pet's ashes are returned to you, be sure to ask; you may need to pay an additional fee, since cremating individually is very expensive. Also be aware that the returned "ashes" are not simply ashes, but also bones. This is because if the crematory heat is high enough to turn the bones to ashes, they would simply vaporize and there would be no ashes left. If you want ashes-only, an additional fee would likely apply since the bones would have to be hand-crushed.

14.  Call your State Patrol office and ask who picks up live or dead animals on State freeways, and what happens to these animals. Also call county Sheriff's offices for information about county highways and rural areas. Call highway departments and sanitation departments to find out if either picks up deceased animals on the streets and highways, and if so, what is done with the remains, and whether records are kept.

15.  Keep in mind that any animal from anywhere in your larger area could end up stranded and desperate in your yard. If this happens, how will you help?

16.  As you summarize your information, try to determine if a facility is:
--animal pound: (city, county, police department,
        private contractor, state patrol, other);
--contractor (kennel, boarding kennel, purebred kennel, cattery,
        veterinarian, other )
--shelter (kill, no-kill, rescue, foster) 
--temporary animal holding facility
--warden  (city contractor, private, county, police, state patrol, other)
--other facility or contractor.

  Some of the above also act as research suppliers (you will ferret these out as you do your information searches).  Continued below ....

A few examples of how pets get around: 
a)  Neighbors, “friends” and family members have been known to “get rid of” pets they see as  aggravating, dropping them off away from home.
b)  Cats and dogs have been known to sneak into cars or trunks and then run when the door is opened … miles from home.
c)  Even a small dog or cat can lope indefinitely at 3 miles per hour … meaning in only 8 hours,  that animal could be 24 miles away.  And most pets lose their sense of direction easily, once a short ways from home.

d)  Some municipalities contract their animal control whose wardens pick up and transport pets many miles away from home to another area’s facility, sometimes crossing through various other impoundment areas.

Dogs typically “lope”; cats typically run-hide, run-hide, trying to find a hiding place that is not already occupied by a bigger, stronger animal. However, if lost out of a vehicle or other similar circumstance, both dogs and cats tend to hide in the general area indefinitely, waiting for the owner to return. It does not take long for a frightened beloved pet to become terrified, and to not trust anyone, including the owner. Cats often must be humanely live-trapped in order to get them home.

FOUND PET TIP: When placing an ad about a pet you have found, withhold certain information. This is important. You want to protect that pet from unscrupulous Class B research dealers, dog-fighters, etc. When someone calls thinking you may have their pet, be sure you have at least one clearly identifiable characteristic about that animal which the owner is sure to know, but which would be hard to guess. Keep in mind, however, that not all owners pay much attention to things like exact markings ... and many people -- even those who are not color blind -- will call an animal "white" when in fact it is tan. Many such human errors exist, so you do need to use caution, compassion, and good judgment while trying to decide if the person responding to your ad could in fact be the owner.

Those of us who do not find our lost pets each contribute a full share to the multi-millions of lost and abandoned pets dying in the country every year.

We each have a personal, humane, and social obligation to find our pets

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Additional keywords: animal pound animal shelter dog pound
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Questions frequently asked:
What if my pet gets lost?
Help me find my pet.
I've lost my pet ... now what?
Where can I  find lost pet rescue?
Please find my lost pet for me.

Study animal carefully; one little detail may be the one that brings your lost pet home. Most-comprehensive in scope, has the info you need to find your lost pet.


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Other areas to check:
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When placing an ad about a pet you have found, withhold certain information that only the owner would know.