How many pounds are there? Lost dog, lost cat, lost pet, animal pounds and shelters (logo here)..

Lost pet tip: Do not give up too soon.

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   You are here

             Section I tip: Do not give up. Do not give up too soon.
          You have 5 days to find your pet in a pound or shelter
          (under Federal law), yet it can often take weeks or months
          for a lost pet to surface. Find more info here in
Section I.

.  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 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.

printer friendly page for Section I - Lost Pets - attitudes issues beliefs

A. ATTITUDES GOOD AND BAD. Some attitudes towards people looking for or helping lost pets exist because of the mass numbers of pets which are killed every year on streets, highways, in pounds and shelters, and the accompanying misery our pets experience. As a result, it can be difficult for shelter workers to not view those who have lost pets with disdain. People assisting strays who bring a stray to a shelter will frequently encounter the same bias. Some of the people and attitudes you may encounter in agencies and neighborhoods as you search for your lost pet are:

1. Wonderful, caring people who are not judgmental, and who only want the best for both you and your lost pet.

2. Caring people who are judgmental and look at you as though you are a criminal for having lost a pet, or for bringing a pet to an agency, even though you may have saved that lost pet from the streets.

3. Decent people, but people who couldn't care any less about your problems nor the problems of your pet, due to their own lives being overwhelmed.

4. Wonderful people who care deeply about the animals but have no interest in your issues. Often this particular attitude develops with burnout, from having seen too much animal suffering for way too long. This can also be due to somewhat sanctimonious individuals always assuming the worst of other people.

5. People who care nothing about you or any animals, and who simply want to go on with their own lives and avoid any animal issues.

. People who care nothing about you or any animals, other than that the animals are an income source.

     Be mentally prepared for all of these responses to you while you search, and your efforts will be a little easier.

B. STRAY OR NOT. It is commonly believed that a "stray" is a homeless pet running loose. That's true, but it is also true that your beloved lost pet is now a stray if he is running loose. If you have other pets which you allow outside on their own, outside of your own yard and out of your control, those pets are also strays at the time they are running loose, since "stray" is defined as "a domestic animal found wandering at large".

 If you are like most people, you will not search for your pet long enough. You'll learn some of the reasons why as you study this document.

Many people believe when they lose a pet they can simply go to their local pound, visit their local humane shelter, put an ad in their local paper, perhaps put up some posters in the area immediately around their residence or wherever the pet was lost, maybe put an ad up on Craig's list on the web, and then just sort of wait for the pet to come home.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy because there are many many additional issues you must consider while searching for your pet. Foremost, it's important to have a well-rounded understanding of the issues involved. Once you understand what happens to lost pets, where they go, how they get there, why, and when, then it's more-possible to devise a workable plan for bringing a lost pet home. Now is not the time to rely on hopes that old-fashioned information is accurate.
     For example, if you know 10 details, but there are actually 30 or more details you should know, you can see how you are immediately losing two-thirds of your opportunities to find your lost pet. It's important to know it all in order to make an adequate search plan, one where you know you've done the very best you can on behalf of your lost pet.

E. HUMAN ERRORS. The fact is, humans make mistakes. This is true for facilities, as well as for friends, family, neighbors. Keep this in mind when someone tells you your animal is definitely not in a particular pound or shelter. Perhaps it is there, but listed incorrectly. Based on your previous experiences, make a mental note of whom you can trust to do a good job for you when accepting help. For additional Lost Pets error info see Section II, Item M.

Finding a lost pet becomes even more difficult when other people's personalities, bad attitudes, or pet-protectiveness get thrown into the mix. For example, some who are not even color blind will insist an animal -- one which otherwise sounds like your tan pet -- is white, when in fact the one they are holding is tan as it can be. If you, knowing that this sort of descriptive error happens, want to check it out (since it otherwise sounds like your lost pet), it can be awfully tough to convince some people they might be making a mistake. If you insist that you see the animal for yourself, you may have to convince the individual that you're really not a horrible person just trying to get another lost pet which you can sell and make money from. One way to work around this problem is to have someone else call the party who is being feisty with you, and then go to check out the animal to verify whether or not it might be yours. Bring a photo and other proof of ownership with you, in the event it is your pet.

PUREBRED vs MIXED BREED. Pet owners tend to believe their pet will never be euthanized by a shelter or impoundment facility and that he would never be sold for research, simply because that pet is purebred, or very expensive, or so cute or so sweet, or way smarter than most pets, or whatever. This is not reality; you will find in-depth information later in this document.

People who lose a pet are typically convinced that some nice neighbor has taken the animal in and will love it and keep it forever. You will find many reasons in this document as to why this is awfully shaky ground. The truth is that if a lost pet is running loose, the opportunity for someone to take the pet in and keep it is quite slim. The reason? Because many millions of pets are lost, abandoned, and/or turned in to pounds and shelters every year. If there were three kind neighbors on any given square city block, for example, and throughout their lives, each neighbor continued to take in every stray on that block that needed help, each of those neighbors would have to take in and keep over a thousand animals, and keep those animals for their full lives. This estimate is based on numbers of animals euthanized each year, estimated number of residences on an average square city block, and a roughly-estimated number of square city blocks in a large metro area of approximately 3 million people. Obviously these statistics will vary greatly depending on size of municipality or metro area, with some stats being much much lower and others being much much higher. You can run these numbers for your own area by using the same method. Based on info from city offices, we assumed 13 blocks per mile and an average of 10 residences per block or 24 per square block; we acquired estimated numbers of animals killed on streets and highways plus animals euthanized in pounds and shelters for an entire metro area from a large local humane organization.
See here at Section
II B - further Lost Pets neighborhood info.

Most people are kindly and caring, and would do nothing to harm a pet by causing its loss. But it is a fact that when it comes to pets, not all people are nice, including some members of some families, some neighbors, and some "friends". Don't indulge in the blame game, don't look at everyone with suspicion, but simply be aware, and put forth your own best search efforts. Also see related neighbor/friend/family examples at Section II-G-1.

J. PERSONAL SAFETY ISSUES. Please do not assume you are safe when out searching for your pet simply because you know the neighborhood. We live in an age of human predators, with others preying on people for many different reasons -- so caution is important for both men and women. Of course, not all of these tips will apply in all circumstances, but they are presented here with an eye towards due vigilance.
     Always use good judgment; watch over your shoulder. If you are out walking and searching when the streets are quiet or dark, move across the street when you see a stranger approaching and keep an eye out to see where the person goes. Avoid walking near vans or similar vehicles. If you are the least bit suspicious about someone's behavior, get out of the area. Avoid giving out your full name, phone number, or address during your search. Never allow anyone to deliver "your" pet to your home; never meet in any other secluded area to view the found pet when you are alone. Always meet in a public place; if you cannot, have someone go with you to view the animal at the location of the finder. When you get to the person's location, however, again use good judgment before getting out of your vehicle. Once at their door, ask the person to bring the leashed or caged animal outdoors for you to see (don't be shy about telling them that you choose to be exceedingly cautious). Bring a leash or cage with you so there should be no objection, and so the pet will be safe.
     When out and about, don't forget to be more watchful and careful than usual to not walk into the path of vehicles while you're engrossed in your search efforts. If you must search at night, swing a flashlight as you walk, and/or wear reflective clothing or reflective strips. You may also want to carry an attack repellant.
     While out searching, also be exceedingly cautious of unfriendly dogs; bring a source of protection with you when walking (visit your local pet store for options such as a spray repellant suitable against dog attack).

The chance of human or animal attack is very very slim. The trick with personal safety while searching is to simply assess such situations automatically, making instant safety decisions, so you can relax and concentrate on your search.

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