Help, I Lost My Pet on Vacation!


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Visiting the local animal shelter to complete a Lost Pet Report can help the shelter connect you with your missing pet.

Palm Springs is a travel destination for thousands of visitors each year. Many bring their furry companions along to share in the experience. Before air travel ground to a virtual halt, it was not uncommon to see pets joining their owners on a flight across the country. Pet owners will do everything they can to make sure their pets have all the comforts possible while traveling. As wonderful as it is to have your furry friend with you while on vacation, there is always the possibility that they might get lost and wind up at a local animal shelter. Here are the ways the Palm Springs Animal Shelter (and other animal organizations) handles “found” pets and what you can do if your pet is lost during travel.

Palm Springs Animal Shelter – Found Pets

Every week, stray pets are brought to the shelter by Animal Control or good Samaritans who hope that an owner can be found and the pet returned immediately to its family. The following steps are taken by the shelter as stray pets enter our facility.

1 Upon arrival, stray pets are checked for visible identification that may include a collar or harness with ID tags. ID tags often carry a phone number, microchip ID number or rabies ID number that helps us contact the owner. A tag with a phone number is the quickest way for finders to reach owners, bypassing the shelter altogether. Pets should wear ID tags at all times when on vacation.

2 If no ID tags are found, a microchip scan is completed and, if a microchip is detected, a call is placed to the microchip company to acquire ownership information. It is extremely important that your pet’s microchip information be up to date, as it is an ownership record and will lead directly to the most updated pet guardian listed.

3 A detailed discussion with the finder can provide an exact location for where the animal was found, along with any rescue efforts or attempts to find the owners.

4 Stray pets with no identification that arrive at the shelter are placed on a mandatory stray hold, which allows the shelter staff time to search for the pet’s owners. Pets with identification are placed on a 10-day stray hold, while pets with no identification are placed on a 5-day stray hold. The holds are important as they give owners time to contact the shelter, as well as give the shelter time to actively look for the owners. Once these holds are up, the pet is made available for adoption.

5 During the stray hold period, shelter intake staff actively look for pet owners by monitoring online postings. Facebook, Pawboost and other social media tools have been used to successfully reunite pets and their owners.

Working with Animal Shelters – Lost Pets

If your pet goes missing while you are on vacation, working with the local animal shelter can help. Visiting the shelter and completing a Lost Pet Report can help the shelter connect you with your missing pet. Here at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, notifying us will help in the following ways.

1 The shelter will have your contact information on hand, as well as pet details and photos that will connect a stray to you.

2 Lost and Found Pet Reports are added to our website so that owners and finders can view stray pets that have recently entered the shelter.

3 Animal Control can be notified to monitor the area where the pet went missing.

4 Our Intake department uses Lost Pet Report details, combined with online listings of found animals, to help connect lost pets with owners outside the shelter.



Reuniting Lost Pets

If your pet is lost while on vacation, act quickly and start looking immediately. Begin visiting local animal shelters as soon as you realize your pet is missing. If your pet is microchipped, contact the microchip company to alert them. Should a good Samaritan report your pet found, you will be contacted by the microchip company. If you do not know the microchip company but you know the microchip number, you can call a shelter or vet clinic and they can provide the microchip company name and number for you. Complete a Lost Pet Report if needed. Our goal is to help you reunite with your pet as quickly as possible.

Along with adopting pets into new loving homes, reuniting lost pets with their guardians is an incredibly joyous occasion to witness and a priority for the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Pets will whine, jump, lick, wiggle, bark and lay down for tummy rubs when they see their guardian. Guardians often cry uncontrollably with happiness and are overcome with relief that their pet is safe. It is definitely one of the best perks of the job.

Enjoy your vacations safely with your pets!

Scott Deemer is Senior Lead, Customer Service at Palm Springs Animal Shelter in Palm Springs, California.

Microchip Facts

A microchip does NOT store any of your information. For the microchip to work, it needs to be registered in an online registry. Without registration, the microchip is useles. An unregistered microchip is extremely difficult to trace back to the owner, and a busy shelter may not have the time or resources to track down that information. (Remember: the registration needs to be updated if you ever move or change your phone number.)

You can register any brand of microchip with any registry. AND you can register a microchip in multiple registries. The Found Animals Microchip Registry is one of several free non-profit registration services.

A microchip is NOT a GPS. You cannot locate or “track” your pet with its microchip. In fact, the chip doesn’t do anything at all until a scanner is passed over it.

The quickest way for your lost pet to get home is with a collar and tag with your phone number on it. Never underestimate the power of an external ID tag – it’s visible and easy for people to understand, which means even a first-time pet finder should know how to contact you. So, having both a microchip and a tag, doubles the chance of a found pet!

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Pet Companion Mag
Pet Companion Mag
Southern California's Local Pet Magazine


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