Plenty of reasons exist for the high number of strays

Plenty of reasons exist for the high number of strays

By Mickey Zeldes  March 12, 2015

We post all the stray animals that come through our door on our Facebook page. It has really helped increase the number of animals returned to owners, as people recognize them as either their own missing pet or belonging to a friend or neighbor. Dakota was sure pleased her neighbor “liked” our Facebook page – the neighbor recognized the lost Labrador and knocked on Dakota’s dad’s door immediately, telling him his missing dog was waiting for him at the shelter. Social media, like Facebook, has allowed the community to help lost animals (and those awaiting adoption) by getting the information out to a wide targeted audience. If you haven’t liked our Facebook page yet, please do, and join our team to help save more animals.

The past couple weeks have been unusual in the high number of lost and abandoned animals that have come through our door. One of the comments made on our last stray alert posting was “What’s up with all the stray cats lately?” There are several reasons for the upswing, not the least of which is this is the time of year when all the females come into heat. They are roaming further to find a mate, and males are everywhere vying for the females.

Overall, we get in many more strays than owner-surrendered (unwanted) animals. Actually, if you think about it, that’s mostly what a shelter is for – a safe place for a lost pet to wait until reclaimed by his or her family. Any pet can become lost: an indoor cat sneaks outside when a door is accidentally left ajar; a fence blows down during a storm; the gardener, PG&E meter reader, contractor, (fill in the blank) left the gate open; burglars broke a window so the cat escaped; or the pet sitter wasn’t vigilant with a known escape artist. The excuses, I mean “reasons,” go on and on, but the point is that a pet can escape from anyone, at any time.

The bigger question, I think, is why are all these strays still at the shelter? Why aren’t all of them reunited with their families? What a shelter should be is a temporary (emphasis on that word) holding facility just until the guardian gets off work or gets back in town to claim their pet. Every pet should be required to have a registered microchip – of course, they are already required to have a registered license and we all know how well that system works – so they have a way to be identified and the guardians contacted. Imagine that – a lost pet comes in, is scanned and a microchip found, the owner is contacted and they come in to claim their pet. It’s that easy.

Case in point: Fifi was found running around a local elementary school and was brought to the shelter by a Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety officer. The scared little Chihuahua was not wearing a collar and had no visible form of identification on her. Using a handheld scanner we quickly picked up a microchip implanted under her skin, and through the website where the chip was registered were able to activate an alert (the alert sends out a text, email and voice message that the animal is at the shelter and repeats for four days). Within a half hour the owner was there to claim her errant dog. Hardly needed to set up a cage for that one!

The Animal Shelter League has been providing our community with free microchips for several years, so you would think every stray animal in Rohnert Park and Cotati would have that kind of happy ending. If your pet became lost, would he have a happy ending? Bring your cats and dogs by the shelter during our open hours (Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.). No appointment necessary for a free microchip. Then “like” our Facebook page and help us return every lost pet back home.

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