Archive for March, 2007|Monthly archive page

What do the experts say about allowing the public into the kennels to look for their lost dog?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

What do the experts say about allowing the public into the kennels to look for their lost dog?

According to national expert and Shelter Planners of America founder Bill Meade, “Closing stray kennels to the general public reduces adoptions, increases killing.”

It is common for some shelters to maintain stray kennels which the public is not allowed to enter, unless they say they have lost a specific type of animal.

This is done because of concern that people may claim animals who are not theirs; because the staff may be burdened with having to explain that certain animals are not ready for adoption; because explaining why an animal must be euthanized may be awkward; to protect the public from bites; and to reduce the spread of disease by keeping people from touching animals.

However, when an animal shelter prevents stray animals from being seen — and touched — by the public, the shelter reduces the number of interactions that may lead to the animals being adopted. Failing to give each animal maximum exposure to the adopting public can lead to avoidable killing.

Often, when members of the public look at stray animals, they identify the missing pets of neighbors or friends, and are able to effect a reunion. Eliminating that possibility also may lead to avoidable killing.

Sometimes a person seeking a lost animal will enter a shelter and, without stopping at the front desk, walk through the accessible kennels, unaware that the strays are isolated out of view. These people leave, mistakenly thinking their animals are not in the shelter. Again, animals may be killed as a result.

What shelter animals need most, and the public wants most, is the opportunity to interact, so that visitors can fall in love with a new pet. The animals benefit from receiving attention, kind words, and a caring touch.

The entire article can be viewed HERE

Can you imagine your feelings if you were denied the chance to view the kennels where your dog could be hidden from view, only later to learn your dog had been destroyed as you were turned away outside?

Finding a lost dog at the city shelters

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Searching for a lost pet —what do you do first?

Q. What is the first recommendation in searching for a lost dog?

A. Check local shelters and humane societies. (See “I’ve Lost my Pet! What Do I Do?”

“You MUST go in person (shelters have far too many animals to identify by telephone description, and every year, shelters accidentally euthanize lost animals after the owner called and identified the animal and the description didn’t ring any bells with shelter staff, who were caring for hundreds of other animals). Even pets with microchips and tags can accidentally be euthanized in busy shelters. DO NOT rely on someone on the phone saying your pet is not there!”

Likewise, DO NOT rely on someone at the shelter telling you your pet is not there. A sad story is reported HERE.

Move to ACT asked the leaders of three local sheltering agencies — Indianapolis Animal Care and Control (ACC), The Humane Society of Indianapolis (HSI), and The Humane Society of Hamilton County (HSHC) — how they treat citizens who come to the agency looking for their lost dog.


When a citizen comes to your agency, can folks be escorted back into the kennels to see if, indeed, their animal is there?

ACC: In fact, we encourage folks to come in person to search for their lost pets. My idea of a lab mix may be different from the owner’s idea of theirs. Not to mention the fact that we have 22 of them!!

HSI: We don’t allow patrons to walk through the kennels anymore for several reasons: it’s incredibly time-intensive to take every person missing an animal through all the back kennels, which takes staff away from doing adoptions, accepting animals, etc.; it’s not a very safe practice since many of the animals have not been through their behavior assessments; and it’s stressful for the animals to have a steady stream of traffic through the kennel area.


If a person does identify their dog in the kennels, what do they need to provide (your agency) to enable them to take their dog home? Picture ID? Signals from the dog that the dog recognizes them?

ACC: Proof of ownership varies: bill of sale, chip info, vet records, photos, videos, etc. Upon occasion we have to rely on an interaction to determine (to the best of our ability) that the animal and human belong together. We make every attempt to reunite families.

HSI: As mentioned on the website, we encourage those coming to the shelter hoping to reclaim their animal to bring proof that the animal is theirs (vet records, picture). We will compare the location where the dog was lost to the location in which the surrenderer claims to have found the animal. This helps us match many lost animals to their owners.

HSHC: Before we escort them back to the kennel, we ask them to provide a detailed description of the dog, the collar it was wearing, etc. We can usually tell from that if they are the owner. If we have a question, we may ask that they provide us with photos of the dog or vet documents. That doesn’t happen very often. Those who are picking up a lost pet are required to fill out a “Return to Owner” form with their contact information and pay a $45 fee. Depending on how long the animal has been at the shelter, there may be additional boarding fees of $10/day. In some instances, animals arrive in need of emergency medical care, so if we have incurred vet expense, we do ask for reimbursement although we cannot require it.

All of our ’RTOs’ are microchipped and registered if they were not already. Because we have no idea if a stray is going to be claimed, we also vaccinate them upon arrival. It ends up being a pretty good deal for folks if the pets weren’t chipped and needed their shots.

Are there any times when you don’t allow the public back to I.D. a dog and if so, what are those occasions?

ACC: I cannot think of any time we have failed to allow the public to see animals. We may not release the animal if it is under Investigation, but we allow even violators (alleged ones!) to view their animals.

HSI: We don’t allow patrons to walk through the kennels anymore for several reasons…


Have you ever had folks come through the kennels who have not found their dog but have identified someone else’s dog — a neighbor’s or a friend’s?

ACC: Yes, it’s helpful. Again, normally we don’t release to those folks but we at least have a starting place to contact the owner.

HSI: We don’t allow patrons to walk through the kennels anymore for several reasons…

HSHC: Not that I’m aware of.

Is there any other information you can think of that would be helpful for the public to know when they come to look for/claim a lost dog they find in the kennel?

ACC: The only thing I would add is that the kennel fees are $5 per day, plus an initial $20 impound fee (for dogs; it’s $10 for a cat), if applicable. But we definitely want people to look at all of our animals if they have lost one; it’s the only way they know for sure whether it’s here or not.

HSI: We have a kiosk in the lobby where patrons can search all our stray animals for their pet. We’ll bring out any animal that appears to match the description they provided. At the same time, we ask them to complete a Lost Animal report so our staff can enter it into the system and watch for possible matches. You probably noticed the lost animal listings on our site include those postings. We also post info on found animals that the finder is willing to keep in their home.

If someone doesn’t have access to the Internet at home or at a nearby library/school/etc., s/he can come to the shelter anytime we’re open to use our kiosk to view the animals surrendered as strays. Photos are posted within a few hours of the animal’s arrival unless the animal is humanely euthanized upon arrival, in which case only general facts (breed, color, age, etc.) are posted. The website is updated hourly so the info is very current.

We want every lost animal to have a chance to find their owner, so we do go by the animal’s reaction to the patron or featuring marks on the animal that the patron can tell us about, along with any documentation the owner can provide that helps us confirm ownership.

HSHC: If the animal has been missing past 7 days, they may find their pets online at Petfinder which can be accessed via our website… We hold all animals for 7 days before putting them up for adoption hoping an owner will come forward. If they go unclaimed, we temperament-test them and put them up if they are deemed ‘adoptable’. It isn’t uncommon for people to find their pets on Petfinder and then come in to adopt them back.