A week-old program designed to reunite lost pets with their owners has already gotten results.
The citywide volunteer program helped a Whitestone family track down a beloved 4-year-old Shih Tzu in about 24 hours. It also helped reunite a lost Brooklyn pooch, dropped off at a veterinarian’s office on Thursday, with her owner on Friday.
“Our volunteers scour sites such as Craigslist and thecenterforlostpets.com for reports of lost and found dogs,” said Melissa Donaldson of the nonprofit Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, which crafted the program with the help of the ASPCA and Animal Care & Control of NYC.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure as many lost pets as possible are returned to their families,” Donaldson said. “But we need more volunteers.”
The program is vital since AC&C, which operates city shelters under a contract with the Health Department, no longer has a lost-and-found program. That service was axed two years ago due to city budget cuts.
When someone who has lost a pet files a report on the AC&C website (nycacc.org), volunteers then try to match it with lists of animals brought into city shelters or found by individual rescuers.
That network proved vital to the Bruzzo family of Whitestone, who spent a tearful July 2 searching local streets for Baby. The pooch had bolted from their backyard.
Seasoned volunteer Phyllis Taiano, who runs Four Paws Sake NYC and helped craft the program, spotted the lost report. She checked the shelter list, asked the family for a photo and more information and created a posting for Craigslist. The next day, someone responded saying they had picked up a stray dog in Whitestone matching Baby’s description.
“We were so happy. The kids had been so upset,” said Mariya Bruzzo.
Taiano pointed to another case, on Friday, where a dog had been listed as an “owner surrender” at a vet’s office. A network of rescuers and volunteers discovered the dog had actually been reported missing by its owner.
Rescuers said owners should make sure pets are licensed, wear identification tags and get microchipped. Veterinarians can implant a tiny chip containing the owner’s contact information under the skin of an animal.
The process is painless and can lead to priceless reunifications.
“A microchip always gets them home sooner,” Taiano said.
Here are some tips on what to do if you’ve lost your pet:
|•||File a report immediately with Animal Care & Control of NYC at nycacc.org. Include a photo of your pet and a full description.|
|•||Post flyers around the neighborhood where your pet went missing. Contact local veterinarian’s offices and visit the the Animal Care & Control shelters.|
|•||Go to AnimalAllianceNYC.org/lostandfound for more tips.|