By DARLA MCCAMMON
Executive Director, Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko
WARSAW — Here at the Animal Welfare League, we maintain a computerized database and do everything possible to help an owner find and reclaim a lost or stray pet. Unfortunately, there are dishonest and unscrupulous people in this world who want to make money and/or steal your pet. We see this far too often.
If you lose a pet, the first place you should contact is the Animal Welfare League. This is always the first and only place the Animal Control Officers and local law enforcement officers are supposed to bring stray pets. This is also usually the place those who want to help the pet will also deliver the pet knowing we take extreme precautions to be sure it is reunited with the correct owner.
Here is what happens if you post your lost pet’s photo on other sites, or on posters, and here are some things you can do to make sure your pet gets back to you. I can assure you, others will try to claim your pet so they can either make money by selling it later, or keep it for themselves.
First, do not give out every detail about your pet. Be sure you hold back one or two pieces of information that only you, the owner, and we, the Animal Welfare League, know about your pet, including your vet and vet records. Why is this? Here is what happens when you post a photo and give out every detail about the pet: The thief finds out your pet is missing by seeing a post on a social media site or they see a poster on a telephone pole somewhere. They make themselves a copy of the photo and all the details about the pet. They bring the photo and all this information to the Animal Welfare League.
We do our best to ascertain if this is really the owner, and we require proof of ownership; however, if the person at our door has all this information you have provided, and you have not contacted us or given us the pertinent and “secret” information only you (and we) know, then we have little choice but to turn the pet over to them. We don’t want this to happen, so be very cautious.
Now is a good time to remind you that if your pet has a microchip and your current information is registered to that microchip, you have guaranteed that we will call you once we scan that stray pet and discover the microchip is registered to you. This does not prevent an unethical person from keeping your pet if they find it before it arrives here, but it does make an additional insurance on your behalf and increase the odds your pet will be returned. All local vets can offer you a microchip and we also encourage pet owners to have us insert a microchip for a nominal fee if you are visiting the shelter.
Your lost pet has a good chance of being found if you partner with us. Just remember these tips, and also remember to update your information on your pet’s microchip if you move.