For many years, I’ve been surprised at how often we end up with adorable, lovable, obviously well cared-for dogs in this shelter who come to us as strays – found wandering the streets. And the kicker is, we never hear a word at all from an owner.
Believe me, I understand that there are people who don’t care much about their four-legged friends, but if your dog got away from you, wouldn’t you make some kind of effort? When my mother had animals, she would have contacted every media outlet in the tri-state area if one of her babies had ever wandered off. Seriously, she’d probably would have done everything in her power to make the six o’clock news.
There was a story a few years ago about a woman – I think from somewhere around Baltimore – who lost her Yorkie and actually paid a private detective to try to track him down. Bless her heart, I can’t imagine the feeling of not knowing what happened to your baby. While to many, her actions may have seemed extreme, I can understand the mindset of wanting to do everything in your power to bring your friend home.
Animal shelters and humane societies are usually the first places stray animals end up and yet I can’t help but wonder how many people aren’t aware of this. In Pennsylvania, our dog wardens are responsible for picking up dogs running at large – in other words, without leashes, roaming the county. When they do find a wandering pup, they’ll bring him to the nearest animal shelter or humane society.
It’s really that simple.
You would think with a system like that in place, our phone would be ringing off the hook with frantic pet parents, hoping we have their beloved companion.
And yet, for years, CVAS has received cute little squirts, with wonderful personalities, not many health issues, who had been abandoned in the streets and despite the fact that we place found ads in the newspaper, we didn’t hear a word.
I don’t get it.
I’ll never forget the time I thought one of my cats had gotten away from me. I marched around the block, numerous times, while evening turned to night, calling for him, hoping to see his white and orange fur in the streetlight. I returned to the house dejected, defeated and literally sick to my stomach – no joke and no offense, I could have thrown up. I figured he was gone and I’d never see him again.
Then I heard a noise in the kitchen cupboard.
I found him curled in a tupperware casserole bowl sound asleep. With a wail of joy, I scooped him up and nearly crushed him in my arms. He immediately started wiggling (not too thrilled that he’d been woken from his peaceful slumber) with a look that said, “What is wrong with you, woman?”
I have to say, in the time I walked around and around my neighborhood that night, I truly knew the definition of incurable, terrifying panic. So, yeah, I have no idea why we don’t hear from owners when they lose a pet – I probably could have been convinced to call out the SWAT team when I thought I’d lost my baby boy.
Help me spread the word. If you’ve got pets or know people who have four-legged friends, be sure you know animal shelters and humane societies are the first place you should look if the worst happens and one of your babies gets away. In addition, let your neighbors know to be on the lookout for your pet, post flyers and put a lost ad in the local paper.
I’ll tell you, we really like the days when we can reunite lost pets with their owners. Seeing the joy in both the human and canine faces makes for some great feelings for everyone.
That’s ultimately the mission of this shelter. We’re here to get these animals home – either to a new one or back to Mom and Dad. One way or the other, we work hard every day to make sure it happens.
Help us help them by making the animal shelter the first place you call if you ever lose your beloved companion.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected] The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.