Tips on locating and reuniting lost pets

If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know how devastating this can be, especially for your children. If this is the first time you’ve lost a pet, you may wonder what the proper course of action is to try and locate them. We’ve put together a few tips to help you in your search.

First, call non-emergency dispatch at 505-334-6622 and advise the dispatcher your pet is missing. Give the dispatcher your name, address and phone number and include a complete description of your pet. Chances are, they’ve already been found and picked up by an animal control officer, who will then be able to return them to you. This is especially common if the pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag displaying current contact information.

Next, visit the animal shelter and ask if your pet has been turned in or if they already know who may have found your pet. The shelter staff can’t identify animals over the phone because many are similar in appearance, so it’s important to make the trip to the shelter. Their staff recommends checking with them daily.

Finally, be sure to file a lost report with both animal shelters within 60 miles (Aztec and La Plata). Hang fliers in your neighborhood and walk the area on a regular basis. Let friends and neighbors know your pet is missing.

What if I find someone else’s lost pet?
If you come across a lost pet, notify dispatch. Include a description of the animal, your name, address and phone number. Notify the animal shelter and ask them if anyone has reported the pet as being missing. The quickest way for an animal to be returned to its owner is by taking them to the animal shelter or having an animal control officer pick them up. The animal shelter does a great job returning pets to their owners and finding new homes for those that have been abandoned. In fact, the animal shelter has two resource vans to transport dogs and cats to new homes throughout the nation. Last fiscal year, the shelter returned 32% of stray dogs to their owners. Over 2,300 animals were adapted out to new homes and over 1,900 were transferred out to rescues throughout the country.

If you find an animal that has a collar and tags, call the number on the tag. Most rabies tags have the veterinarian’s phone number located on them. He or she will be able to identify and contact the owner from the year and number on the tag. If the animal is taken to the shelter or a veterinarian, they can determine if it is chipped. Both are equipped with chip readers and can locate the owner once they scan and identity the chip number.

If you plan on keeping the animal while trying to identify the owner yourself, be sure to get the message out so the owner knows who has their pet and how to contact you. There are several free ways to do this. The Daily Times has a lost and found column where people who either find or lose a pet may advertise for free (505-325-4545). Social media and sites such as Craigslist are other great platforms to advertise missing animals. There is a Facebook page for lost and found pets in San Juan County at Always use caution and meet in a public place, such as FPD’s online sales exchange location, when exchanging a pet.

Remember, if you find a stray animal, chances are they belong to someone and are greatly missed. Returning a family’s lost pet is a wonderful, easy way to Hustle Kindness in our community!