Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If Your Love Should Stray

Hi all!

July has been our Cat Days of Summer promotional month: the adoption fee for all adult cats has been reduced to just $50 (usually $95). I'm very, very happy to report that we're dealing with either happy coincidence or enormous promotional success … either way, a LOT of cats have gone home this month!

Congrats to: Simba, Charlotte, Tiara, Gabby, Potter, Cali, Kermit, Magnum, Cameron, Baby, Buck, Moe, Sova, Pantera, Kusco, Frita, Lucy, Patches, Ruby, Buddy, CHUBBS!, Hawthorn, Graphite, Tubby, Tank, Spade, and Finkster.

Tubby was adopted last week!

The promo isn't quite over yet … still one day left to bring a new feline companion into your family at the reduced adoption rate!

Our kittens have been going just as quickly, of course; their babyish cuteness is the only promotion they need. Congrats to Friday, Pikachu, Pudge, Sonoma, Smokey, Napa, Dasher, Cupid, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Donner, Ariel, Jasmine and Belle on their new homes.

We had one rabbit adoption last week: Quincey! And Alice, Beatrice and Bianca--all guinea pigs--also found new homes.

Our dog population has been incredibly low this summer. In fact, as of last week's census we only had 16 dogs in house (about half our capacity)! So we don't have a lot of dogs to congratulate, which in this case is a happy thing. Brody, Fred, C.J., Miles Davis, Layla, Delilah, and DeeDee found new families.

A few other dogs who never made the adoption floor recently found their way home, too. These three were strays, brought to us by animal control.

We named two of them Little Debbie and Daniel Boone. They seemed to be from the same family, as they clearly knew each other and seemed very close. In fact, the animal control officer (ACO) had only been able to catch Daniel Boone … but once he got Daniel in the truck, Little Debbie came running and jumped in the truck of her own accord, not wanting to be without her buddy! Both appeared to be older in age and we found a number of tumors on one of the dogs. Little Debbie was so covered in fleas that most of the hair on her lower back around her tail area was missing.  

Fortunately, we were able to find a microchip in one of these dogs and tracked down the person listed on the chip--a woman who lives in New York State. Upon getting in touch with her, this woman told us that when she and her partner had separated, he had taken the two dogs (actually named Lady and Baxter). She had not seen the pups in over two years and had assumed that they were still living with her ex-partner. After hearing from us, she checked in with her ex, who said he had re-homed Lady and Baxter. There the trail goes cold. The important thing is, they ended up back together again, and were found by the police.

After completing their mandatory week-long stay (legal hold) at the animal control facility, Lady and Baxter were turned over to us. We decided to place this pair with their original owner, who was very obviously upset over the ordeal the dogs had been through and was eager to take them back to her farm in New York. She said the dogs are very bonded and was not surprised they had been found together. She joyously picked them up at the shelter (Lady and Baxter no doubt equally joyous!) and brought them home again.

So why must dogs complete a legal hold with animal control? It's meant to provide owners with time to reclaim the dogs before they're turned over to a third party (like HSCC). Animal control will usually scan a found dog for a microchip and look for ID tags in an effort to contact the owner. Because this is such a small state with a relatively small dog population, it's fairly unusual in Vermont for a dog who is wanted at home to not be reunited with his family. That's why we have very few cases like Lady and Baxter's, in which dogs coming from animal control are returned to their owners. Or like Audrey Hepburn's case. 

Audrey came to us from animal control, too. Our lost cat coordinator, Amanda, regularly checks craigslist.com for lost pet postings, and came across a post for a missing dog named Suzie. Suzie looked just like Audrey, and upon getting in touch with Suzie's people, we soon learned that Audrey was Suzie! The really frustrating thing was that she had been missing for two weeks--all the while sitting in animal control, right there for reclaiming. Unfortunately, the owners had not thought to check with towns outside of the one they occupy (Suzie had ended up in a different town). To make matter worse, they had had Suzie micro-chipped, but numerous scans did not pick up the chip (it will likely need to be re-implanted). Needless to say, the family was thrilled to be reunited with their pup, and we were happy their searching had finally come to fruition, too! 

Working with and understanding the animal control system can be very confusing. It doesn't help that there is no official state- or federally-mandated protocol for how towns must handle strays ... so every town does it a little differently. It's important to learn about your town's process (how long the hold is, where found dogs are posted by animal control, etc.), and especially important to understand that once a dog has been held for their town's required stray hold, the ACO or town officials are free to do whatever they want with the dog (take the dog home, give it away, euthanize it, bring it to the shelter). At that point the original owner is no longer the legal owner of the dog, and may need to go through an adoption process and/or pay fees to get the dog back.  

Some helpful tips:

1) Contact all proper authorities (ACO, police department, humane society, etc.) to report that the dog is missing. Craigslist, Front Porch Forum, the Lost & Found Animals of Vermont Facebook page and other online resources are great, but not all town officials check these for postings of missing dogs. It's best to be as proactive as possible and get the word out to as many people as you can, especially the people who will be caring for the dogs once they are in the care of a municipality.

2) Keep current information on your dog's tags and consider micro-chipping. A microchip is not a tracking device; it's more like information storage. It stores an owner's name, phone number and address, which will appear when the chip is scanned by a shelter or authorities. 

3) Get your dog licensed with the town you live in! It's not only the law, it can help authorities reunite a missing dog with the family it's been licensed to.

4) Call officials in other surrounding towns. Dogs have a tendency to travel long distances and can cover a considerable amount of ground in a short period of time. It's not uncommon for a dog to end up in another municipality before s/he is recovered.

Hope that helps. After all, we'd really like to keep our dog population at its current low numbers ;)

That's the good news this week!