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Lost Pets Not Found and the Not-Always-So-Cruel System That Keeps Them Out of Reach

Posted Apr 05 2010 5:30pm
Since penning Monday’s post on the issue of microchipping, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the barriers that keep lost pets from finding their rightful and loving owners. After a holiday weekend’s lost-and-found pet adventure, it seems I am destined to offer you an entry on the subject.


Here’s what happened: My brother in law found a dog in my neighborhood. He brings her over to me and she’s a small, sweet husky mix that I’ve never seen before. Her only tag claims she’s rabies-vaccinated, but it’s a couple of years old and well worn. It’s definitely not one of those cute, helpful tags my clients’ pets tend to wear. You know, the ones that say, “My little monster is named X and she lives at Y. Call Z number if you find her.”

No, this tag might as well have said, “I care only enough about my pet to ensure a government employee won’t give me crap about her legal status so I don’t get into any hot water should she be lost (which I’ll freely admit happens often).”

Yeah, though she was wearing a collar, this dog didn’t exactly scream, “Someone loves me. Please get me back home!” Still, busy as I was getting a dinner party together, and chock-full of animals as my house is these days, I was really hoping to get her butt back to her rightful home ASAP (God forgive me, I was).

In any case, it wasn’t as easy a trick as you might imagine. Reaching the powers-that-be using the designated telephone line found on the county issued tag wasn’t as straightforward as I might’ve supposed.

After living on hold for a while (I happily rolled meatballs in the interim, though I did get a crick in my neck), I reached a Saturday-hours county employee who graciously told me she knew the dog’s true provenance, but there was a catch. Because she (the dog) belonged to a commercial establishment (who’s office wasn’t picking up the phone when the county employee called), there was no way she could tell me where this dog lived. Privacy and all that.

Here’s where I instinctively resorted to begging. “But this poor, sweet thing! Someone is surely dying to get her back home! How, in good conscience, can you refrain from helping me find the place where she’s most comfortable … in the arms of those who must surely be missing her!?"

In the end, the county operator relented (bless her soul). “OK, but all I can tell you is that her home is a church.”

Done. I knew who she belonged to. The only church in my zone is also the most likely offender for all things related to wayward animals. Their creatures are always on the loose. Indeed, I would have thought of it first had I known my local church even kept a dog.

So it was that as I brought her home to her outdoor pen, I couldn’t help but be saddened by my choice to press the county employee for an answer. Sometimes, I believe, ignorance might honestly be tantamount to bliss.
 
 
Dr. Patty Khuly
 
 
Art of the Day: "Lost Dog" by Joel Zimmer.
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