You Are Missing Your Fur Babies: Do You Know What To Do?
As you’re sitting there on the lanai, the sun’s warmth shining through the screen, you are blissfully unaware of the outside world. It’s just you and your fur babies. You are enjoying your morning cup of coffee, your pets are outside playing with wild excitement as the birds are chirping. They’re hooked up to their leads since there’s no fence, but you don’t worry because they’ve never run off before, so you just sit drinking your coffee and gazing at the pond.
It’s lulling you into a tranquil state. Then the timer you set goes off, snapping you back into reality. Time to go fire up the laptop and get ready to start your workday. While you’re powering everything on, it goes quiet outside. You quickly go to check on your fur babies and they’re gone! Your heart starts racing. The panic begins to set in, as you try to decide what to do first.
Missing Fur Babies – Frantic First Steps
Most people, including myself, would frantically throw on shoes and run out the door yelling their pet or pets’ names while searching the immediate area. While this is important, because they usually go to places they are familiar with, be sure to bring a leash with you so people will realize you’ve lost your pet. Some will stop and help. Here in Manasota, we’re lucky to have the help of an organization that is, “the largest, most active lost and found pet organization in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, their area covering Sarasota, Bradenton, Palmetto, Parrish, Ellenton, Venice, Northport, Myakka and areas beyond.” It’s called Lost Pet Services, Inc. Here is a link to their lost dog Action Plan Checklist, for an incredibly detailed list of what to do and how they can help.
Lost Pet Services, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to reuniting lost pets. It was formed in 2013 as a Facebook group named Lost and Found Pets 941, when its founder, Patty Giarrusso, lost her two dogs Rocko and Jackson Browne. When they were found safe and sound, it was then that she set out on a mission. Her mission was “dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their families through systematic, free pet recovery services, medical funding and promoting responsible pet ownership through educational resources to keep loved pets out of our overcrowded shelters and home safe with their families.”
The group was so successful that many pets were reunited with their loved ones, and in 2017 Lost Pet Services, Inc. was born. They have programs to help reduce the number of pets and strays brought into our area’s overcrowded shelters by offering free microchips and ID tags and donating microchip scanners to our local police and volunteers who help in their communities.
So now you are probably thinking, oh yeah, my dog/cat has one of those microchips, so I’m all set, the scanner will catch it, and they’ll be able to bring Fluffy home to me… but it’s not that simple. We all try to be responsible pet owners. We feed them, walk them, make sure they get their nails trimmed, have plenty of toys to play with, take them to the vet regularly, and so on. But wait, we forget something, that microchip. Microchips are like your pet’s social security number, but your information and the chip’s registration must be kept up to date because, according to the Lost Pet Services, Inc. website, it can mean the difference between being reunited with your lost pet or not.
Lost Pet Services – Statistics Speak for Themselves
When I spoke with Patty about the importance of microchips, she told me about 80% of pet owners did not have their pets’ chips registered and up to date. This number was absolutely shocking and it isn’t due to irresponsibility or lack of caring for our pets but the lack of information. Now I admit the first thing I did when I got off the phone with her was research the microchips for my two rescue dogs. The process was stress-free, all I had to do was call the number or click on the website that came up for each of my dogs’ chips to register and/or update my information.
According to the Lost Pet Services, Inc. website, every two seconds a family pet is lost, and many never make it back home. Most household pets have collars but they can come off during rough play or from wear and tear, so that’s where microchips are the second line of defense. They save millions of pets each year from euthanasia, like Spanky who was reunited with his family after being a lost pet for almost six years. A volunteer was able to use a microchip reader to scan his chip. When they did, Spanky’s up-to-date registration and owner information allowed him to finally go home.
Lost Pet Services, Inc. has reunited well over 15,000 fur babies with their families in the seven years since Patti started her mission. In fact when I asked Patty just how many families they’ve helped she said, “it was so many she had lost count, but they reunite on average about 200-300 a month and it was 297 this January alone.” While she may have started it all with a mission and a little Facebook group, it has grown into so much more. In February 2021 the group hit 35,000 members and is still growing.
Photos By Dianna Chamberlain