We’ve got a Lost and Found for our pets

NoHo and the San Fernando Valley has a way to help us find our lost pets.

sfv lost and found petsThe NoHo Arts District dot Com team is an advocate for animals and our growing North Hollywood neighborhood is definitely pro pet. So when we came across San Fernando Valley Lost & Found Pets (SFVLFP) we had to share. This is an organization that helps spread the word when your furry friend has gone missing. It’s a network of animal lovers using the power of the internet to help reunite lost pets with their owners in the San Fernando Valley. We all love a happy ending and SFVLFP found Shannon Fitzgerald has made many happy furry endings.

How does the organization help find lost pets?
We post the pet’s photo and information on Facebook and Twitter, and ask members of the community to share them. The more people that see a lost pet’s flyer, the better. It’s kind of like six degrees of separation – somebody knows somebody who knows who found the pet. People are wonderfully helpful – some will check the shelter listings, newspaper classifieds, or Craigslist as well as keeping an eye on our posts, and try to match up “lost” postings with “found” postings. We also give advice and try to educate the community about what to do when you lose or find a pet.

Why did you start the organization?
I was inspired by Dogs of Illinois (https://www.facebook.com/LostDogsIllinois) and Simi Valley Missing Pets (https://www.facebook.com/SimiMissingPets), both of whom have had amazing success reuniting lost pets and their owners using social media. I noticed that there wasn’t a Facebook page for sharing lost and found pets in the San Fernando Valley, where I was living at the time. (There is a page for Los Angeles Metro (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lost-and-Found-Paws-in-Los-Angeles-Metro-Area/165863400097668) but the targeted, local approach that the Simi Valley group used appealed to me.

I started this page in February of this year, and I’m just blown away by the community support that has allowed it to grow so fast. Angelenos love their animals! And people are so helpful to total strangers, it really makes one optimistic about the world!

We hear so much about rescue in the media, but not very much about lost pets. There’s a real need for awareness of what to do when you lose or find a pet so that more lost pets can be returned to their families. My wish for SFVLFP is to help raise this awareness, so more lost pets can find their way home. For every lost pet that’s returned to his or her people, that’s one less homeless pet in the shelter system.

lost pet nohoWhat are you top three tips to a folks who lose their pet?
1. Flyers, flyers, flyers! As soon as you realize your pet is missing, make 50-100 flyers with your pet’s photo and info, and post them within a 1-2 mile radius of the location your pet was lost from. Also take flyers to local vets, groomers, etc. It’s low-tech, but this is the most common way that people get their pets back.

2. Check the animal control shelter online and in person every 2-3 days. Stray animals are held for 72 hours, after that they are available for adoption by the public. Take a flyer to the shelter, they usually have a bulletin board or a binder for lost pets. Don’t rely on calling the shelter – the staff are busy and can’t check the 100+ kennels for your missing dog, they might not know the correct breed, and descriptions can vary. Don’t rely on the shelter calling you, unless your pet is microchipped. Even then, microchips can fail. So check the shelter! Here’s a list of animal shelters in the Valley: http://sfvlostfoundpets.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/animal-shelters-in-the-san-fernando-valley/

3. Don’t give up! While the first 48 hours are the most critical, lost pets have been found weeks, months, and even years later. If you stop posting flyers and Craigslist ads, and a week later someone finds your pet, they will have no way to find you.

What are your top tips for folks who find lost pets?
1. Assume a pet is lost, rather than stray or abandoned. If someone found your lost pet, you would want them to try to find you. So extend the same courtesy. And try not to make assumptions based on the animal’s appearance or behavior. Many dogs (poodles, for example) can become dirty and matted in a matter of days. This doesn’t mean the dog was neglected. And many dogs and cats become extremely frightened when they’re lost, and can become almost feral. Just because an animal is shy or fearful, doesn’t mean he/she was abused – it’s probably just a reaction to being all alone in a strange, scary place.

2. Take the pet to the shelter. Shelters get a bad rap, but their main purpose is pretty much to hold stray animals so their owners can find them. The first place most people will look for their lost pet is at the local shelter, so please give them a chance to find their pet by taking them there. All stray animals are held for 72 hours, after that they are available for adoption by the public. If you’re concerned about the pet, you can adopt him/her after the stray hold period is up, and continue searching for the owners.

3. Be patient. For many reasons, you might not find the pet’s family right away. Don’t assume that nobody is looking for the pet if you haven’t seen any flyers, or found their people after a day or two. Dogs especially can travel long distances, and the owners may have posted flyers where the dog was lost – but that might be miles away from where the dog was found. Social media is helpful, but not everybody is online, or on Facebook, or aware of Craigslist. So use as many outlets as you can find to post the pet’s information, and give it about a month before assuming nobody is looking for the pet.

4. Ask for proof of ownership. If someone is claiming the pet you found is theirs, ask them to provide photos of their lost pet, or describe a unique characteristic of the pet. After all, you want the pet to go back to the true owners, not someone looking for a free dog or cat.

How can one get involved?
If you’re on Facebook, “like” our page and share us with your friends: https://www.facebook.com/LostPetSoCal Like and share the lost and found pet photos. Follow us on Twitter @sfvlostfoundpet and retweet the lost and found posts. Encourage your friends and family to post their lost and found animals online. When you see a “lost” posting, check Craigslist or Petharbor.com for matching “found” pets. If you see a lost or found flyer in your neighborhood, snap a photo and post it to our page, or email it to sfvlostfoundpets@gmail.com with a brief description of where it was posted.

 san fernando valley lost and found pets www.nohoartsdistrict.com
 “Roy” – FOUND and safely back home with his family

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