Losing a pet is stressful, and when it happens, most people don’t know where to turn for help. “For a lot of our clients, their pets are their children. When people call us, they’re crying and distraught, saying Please help us,” says Sarah Rouse of Kennelwood Pet Resorts. The company has operated its Mimi Alert program since 2009, to help owners find lost pets. “You start with a crying person, desperate for help and when there’s success, you end up with a happy person who has been reunited with their pet. It’s a really rewarding program.”
The Mimi Alert allows pet owners to call in with a description of their lost pet, including the last intersection where they were seen, along with the date and time. Kennelwood then puts together an email alert, which is sent to the company’s clients in surrounding ZIP codes and also goes out to all of their followers on Facebook.
Another program, STL Lost Pets, was created in March by a partnership of Humane Society of Missouri, the Animal Protective Association and St. Louis County Animal Care and Control. “Between the three agencies, we take in approximately 90 percent of all unwanted and relinquished animals in the St. Louis metro area, so there is an excellent chance that a pet owner whose pet has become lost will locate their animal through the STL Lost Pets website,” says Humane Society president Kathy Warnick. The website is updated hourly by the three organizations, who photograph animals that come in and include important information such as the pet’s breed, size, coloring and distinguishing marks. “We recommend checking the website and visiting all the shelters on a regular basis, to ensure that their pet is found as quickly as possible,” she notes. Owners also can post to the website themselves, creating a virtual flyer that can alert someone who might have found the pet.
If your pet is lost or gets out of the house, our sources recommend starting the search immediately. “It’s important for people to know they need to act immediately if the dog’s bolted out of the door. People shouldn’t be comfortable that they’ll find their way home,” says Jason Schipkowski of Stray Rescue St. Louis. “So much could happen—they could be hit by a car—so act immediately. Start canvassing the neighborhood and contact shelters.” He says as a rule of thumb, cats tend to wander less than dogs, but it’s good to start with a four- to six-block radius, talking to neighbors and posting flyers. He adds that shelters must hold a pet for a minimum five-day waiting period before the pet can be put up for adoption, but it’s best to start calling shelters as soon as possible. Stray Rescue also works with people who have lost their pets, sending alerts to its 20,000 Facebook followers and keeping a list of all lost and found pets at the agency’s front desk. The nonprofit is in the process of putting that information online, Schipkowski adds.
Common-sense preventive measures also can speed the return of your pet in the event that it’s lost. Warnick, Rouse and Schipkowski offered the following suggestions:
- Make sure your dog or cat has proper, updated tags
- Microchip your pet, and ensure that all information is up-to-date
- Take photos of your pet that can be used on flyers
- Check your yard for escape routes and ensure that the fence is secure
- Frequently check the batteries on electronic fences
- Ensure your dog’s leash and collar are secure, with no cracks or weak spots
- Always transport a cat in a carrier
- Use a reflective collar that can be seen at night
- Never leave pets outside unattended
- Keep them inside during holidays and parties, especially July 4 celebrations
And if you come across an animal that appears to be lost, the ideal situation is to catch it and check for tags. If tags aren’t visible, you can call a shelter for help. If the animal appears distressed or aggressive, don’t approach it. Call your local animal control or shelter, instead.
Resources for Lost Pets
STL Lost Pets: stllostpets.org
Kennelwood’s Mimi Alert Program: email pet’s info to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 446-1011
Stray Rescue of St. Louis: strayrescue.org.
Saint Louis PetLover Coalition is hosting the first-ever Places for Pets Week June 11-16. The week honors new pet adoption and service locations that have opened recently throughout the area. The event culminates with a pet adoption day on Saturday, June 16 at more than 20 locations including the Boathouse in Forest Park and Laumeier Sculpture Park. Additionally, special services for pets will be offered around town during the week. For more information, visit stlpetlover.org.