When I was just a wee little lass of 6 years, my very first cat—Mike—got lost. Well... to be honest, he was an indoor/outdoor cat (something I am STAUNCHLY against these days), and he just didn't come home one night. Other than roaming the streets and calling his name and putting up "Lost Cat" flyers around the neighborhood, the only thing we could do was hope someone found him and contacted us via the identification tag on his collar. Months later, after I'd long given up hope of ever reuniting with my beloved Mike, we received a call... he was safe. Finally reunited, I hugged him so hard that my dad had to pry me off of him, lest I hurt the poor thing!
While riding my bicycle through downtown Portland this past weekend, I saw a small critter scurrying across four lanes of traffic. I slowed down to try to get a better look and realized it was a tiny, somewhat hairless dog. I slowly started following it, but after about half a block, I realized that it was probably lost, it was definitely scared, and its owner was nowhere to be found. Luckily, I managed to catch the pup with the hoodie I'd been wearing. And that's when things got complicated...
In case you ever come across a stray animal, there are a few organizations you can contact. First in my speed dial is Multnomah County Animal Services. However, as I'd found the pup EARLY on a Saturday morning, their call center operator informed me that they wouldn't be able to send anyone to pick it up for another five hours! The Oregon Humane Society is another option, if you need a place to take a found pet. But, again, it was too early to contact anyone at OHS too. I then remembered that Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital wasn't too far away... so that's where we went!
I can't express enough love for Dove Lewis. I've used them numerous times in the past for my own pets, and they've always been quick and professional. Not only did they provide the pup with a quick (but thorough) examination, but they were also able to learn that the lost pup was microchipped. The dog—"Pita Bread"—was a 10-year-old spayed, female Chinese Crested that belonged to a certain gentleman in South Carolina. I left Pita with Dove Lewis, knowing she'd be in good hands. In return, Dove Lewis provided me with contact information, so that I could follow up on Pita's progress. ***
The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. According to PetFBI, conventional pet wisdom teaches us that most lost pets will be reunited through a shelter. However, the reality is that relatively few strays are reclaimed before being euthanized or adopted out to others. Unfortunately, there is no single, unifying database where someone can go to report a lost or found pet.
If your pet's been turned in to a local shelter, you can call to find out if it's there. There's also Craigslist's "Lost & Found" database that individuals may use, if they've found your pet and opted to hold it, instead of dropping it off at a shelter. There are also a few online databases that are worth looking into, but many are not free and may prey upon a lost-pet owner's desire to find a pet using any means necessary, with money being no object. For these types of online resources, use caution and good sense!
Ultimately, it's in your and your pets' BEST interest to get your pets microchipped! You never know when they'll accidentally escape, or where they'll eventually end up!
In case you're wondering what ever happened to Pita Bread, the lost—but microchipped—Chinese Crested pup I'd found... it's a mixed bag of blessings. Sadly, her microchip information had not been updated. Multnomah County Animal Services did the best job they could at trying to find her last listed owner, to no avail. I called every four days or so, just checking on her progress. I even listed myself as an "adopter of last resort," in case they couldn't find her owner and in case she was not adopted. However, they assured me that even in her senior age, she would likely be adopted immediately (likely because she was so sweet and cute). And, just as they'd predicted, she was adopted almost immediately upon being listed as available! Though held for about three weeks while they searched for her listed owner, she eventually found a forever home with a new family. I can only hope they will give her all the love and attention she deserves, in these twilight years of her remaining life.
But, please, PLEASE... let this be a lesson to anyone reading this now—microchip your pets and keep their information up to date! It's a bit sad knowing that a very loving owner lost a very loving pet. Don't be that owner! Don't let your pet be that pet!