Why few lost dogs get reunited with their owners

Austin
A puppy at the Austin Animal Center at the end of June (KXAN Photo/Nabil Remadna)

A puppy at the Austin Animal Center at the end of June (KXAN Photo/Nabil Remadna)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time in a month, the Austin Animal Center is not over-capacity. It “made some great progress over the weekend,” even amid Fourth of July fireworks that can spook some pets into running away, according to communications and media manager Jennifer Olohan. AAC currently has 6 open kennels, while it was averaging -15 kennels last week, prompting a plea for people to foster or adopt. The shelter is now working to reunite lost pets with their owners, but it can be a challenge.

AAC took in 113 stray pets from Friday to Monday and, although it was closed Monday, it still took in some animals. In comparison, the shelter took in 132 strays from Friday, June 4 to Monday, June 7. Olohan says adoptions helped prevent overflow — 59 animals were adopted out over the weekend, while a number of others will soon go home after spay/neuter surgery.

“Hopefully as long as we don’t see a spike in intake we’ll continue getting more and more kennel space over the next few days,” Olohan said.

The shelter has been able to reunite eight dogs with their owners since Friday. Olohan says that only about 30% of dogs who get to the shelter are returned to their owners — and shared some advice for finding lost pets.

First, Olohan says the shelter can get pets with microchips or ID tags home “right away.” But, if a cat or dog didn’t have those, the shelter relies on the owner looking for their missing pet. Olohan says owners should visit AAC or other local shelters in person, check its website to see if the animal appears there and keep looking in the days ahead. It also has a map showing where lost pets were found and has a “Lost Report” people can fill out. Of course, people can and should also post on social media, Olohan says.

If someone has found a pet, she advises they first look in their neighborhood for the owners before taking the animal to the shelter.

“Generally an animal is less than 500 feet from their home when they get picked up, so it’s a lot more beneficial to post on social media like Facebook and Nextdoor to look for the family because once they get to the shelter it can be really difficult to reunite them,” Olohan said. Those people can also submit a “Found Report” and look online for pets reported missing.

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