Animal Rescue: How to handle the situation if you find a lost pet _lowres

Photo provided by ARNO -- Sapphire is a shy German Shepherd mix. She was taken in by ARNO as a young puppy and is being socialized, but she needs a foster- or foster-to-adopt family that will help her. She does well with another socialized dog, preferably a male. If you are interested, try working with Sapphire at ARNO to form a bond. Email adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org. You can come visit her any day between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at 271 Plauche St., Harahan.

The start of a new year always brings with it a rise in the number of lost pets. This is often due to fireworks or families being out of town for the holidays. So what should you do if you come across a lost pet?

It is important to note that a family may be looking for the pet, so do not be so quick to assume that the animal is abandoned. Accidents do happen, even to the best of us, so a loose pet does not necessarily equate to a negligent owner.

Also, just because a lost pet may look matted or in bad shape, it doesn’t always mean the pet came from a bad home. Rather, it could be that the pet has been missing for some time. If a lost pet is found, here are some tips to help it get back to its family:

Check to see if the animal has a collar and tags. Even just a rabies tag can help in tracking down the owners.

Walk the animal around and talk to neighbors in the area to see if anyone recognizes it.

Bring it to a local vet office or shelter to be scanned for a microchip. Any vet or shelter can scan, and there is no fee to have a pet scanned.

File a found report with all local shelters. Animals often travel a far distance in a short amount of time, so just because the animal may be found in one area, it doesn’t mean it is not from miles away or from across parish lines.

Make found posters and distribute them in the area the animal was found as well as to vets and groomers nearby.

Place a found ad in the newspaper. These are usually free.

Place a found ad on Craigslist and Facebook. It’s a good idea to leave out some identifying information and make the owner provide that information and proof of ownership.

If possible, hold on to the animal until the owner is found. If you cannot, then it’s best to bring the animal to the shelter nearest to where it was found. The closest shelter to the pet’s home is usually the first place an owner will look.

If no owner is found, or it is determined that the animal has been abandoned, it’s time to decide if the pet is becoming a part of your family or if a new home will be sought. Local rescues also can be contacted to see if space is available. Networking with family and friends also is a great option for placing the animal.

Events

Saturday: Critter Cinema will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. The event is great fun for animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids. What better way to end the week than getting cozy with kitties and puppies, enjoying G-rated critter movies, making friends with other young animal lovers and snacking on popcorn at the Louisiana SPCA? For kids ages 5-10, please bring a sleeping bag, pillow and pajamas. $35 per child. Pre-registration is required; call (504) 368 5191, ext. 207, or email erica@la-spca.org. Visit www.la-spca.org/crittercinema for more information.

Saturday: An off-site pet adoption event, sponsored by the Louisiana SPCA, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Petco, 3500 Williams Blvd. Louisiana SPCA adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help you select the right pet for your family. A variety of shapes, colors and sizes of four-legged friends eager to find a new home will be available for adoption. Call (504) 368-5191 or visit www.la-spca.org for more information.

Lost or found pets: In Orleans Parish you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or www.animalrescuenew orleans.org.