A spike in unregistered, unregulated and uninspected animal rescuers operating in the Sudbury District, who are essentially stealing people’s lost pets by failing to report found animals that are then “re-homed,” is becoming a concern, said Rainbow District Animal Control.
Animal Control officers have been paying close attention to social media sites and online classified ads as of late and have noticed a disturbing trend where people and organizations aren't reporting animals they have found to the proper authorities, said Rainbow District Animal Shelter manager Richard Paquette.
Many individuals and organizations in the Sudbury District are taking in stray animals and failing to report these animals to the shelter, he said. Many of these animals are being re-homed to new owners without ever being reported as found to the proper authorities, or without the rightful owners having any real chance of claiming them.
There are no laws that require someone to report a found pet, but people and organizations have a moral obligation to report these animals to the proper authorities, Paquette said. When someone loses their pet, the first place they often call is the local animal control shelter or pound, where their pet really should end up.
Failing to report found pets to the proper authorities, no matter how well meaning the finder may be, is tantamount to stealing someone’s beloved pet, he said.
The Rainbow District Animal Shelter maintains an online lost and found reporting system at www.rdshelter.ca. Anyone who finds a pet and who does not want to turn it over to the proper authorities is encouraged to at least call the shelter at 705-673-3647 or go on the shelter’s website to report the pet as found and post a photo of the animal.
The Rainbow District Shelter receives dozens of lost reports a day. Owners of lost pets are encouraged to place an online report and post pictures of their lost pets on the shelters web service. Social media and online classifieds should not replace contacting the proper authorities, Paquette said.
“Unfortunately many owners look for weeks and months in vain,” said Paquette. “This has a lot to do with well-meaning individuals who simply fail to report animals they have found to the proper authorities, or do everything in their power to reunite the pet with its rightful owner.”
Many people fear that animals brought into the shelter will be euthanized, Paquette said. However, more than 60 per cent of dogs recovered are returned to their rightful owners. Last year, 363 of the 575 dogs were reunited with their owners. Countless more were sent home without being impounded due to the fact they were wearing a valid licence or the owner had reported the pet missing.
“For dogs, at least, the fear they will be euthanized is for the most part unfounded as nearly 30 per cent of the dogs recovered in Greater Sudbury last year were adopted to new homes,” Paquette said. “Over all, less than 10 per cent of the dogs brought to the shelter in 2011 were euthanized.
“Only the very old, sick and dogs otherwise not adoptable due to behavioural issues are euthanized, which is why they were likely abandoned in the first place.”
Cats are a different story. Less than five per cent of those recovered by Animal Control are being reclaimed by their original owners. Paquette believes that poor compliance with the cat licensing bylaw is mostly to blame for this.
Furthermore, cats are difficult to identify and many will be stray for several weeks or even months before they are recovered or reported, he said. People tend to just ignore cats, and unfortunately many people wait until the cat is in distress before contacting anyone. Most of the time it is either too late for the cat or their owners have given up looking for them by then.
The idea that turning over a cat to the shelter is an automatic death sentence is also misleading, Paquette said. The Rainbow District Shelter and its community partners found homes for more than 300 cats in 2011.
What it boils down to, is the fact pet owners need to be better about licensing their pets, Paquette said. While microchips are a good back up they are not nearly as effective as a collar with tags.
Microchips are invisible to the eye and can occasionally go undetected. A license is visible proof of ownership, which lets people know that your pet is owned and compels the person to do something.