Search methods that people use to find owners of lost pets

Linda K Lord, Thomas E Wittum, Amy K Ferketich, Julie A Funk, Päivi J Rajala-Schultz
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2007 June 15, 230 (12): 1835-40

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the process by which people who find lost pets search for the owners.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. Sample Population-188 individuals who found a lost pet in Dayton, Ohio, between March 1 and June 30, 2006. Procedures-Potential participants were identified as a result of contact with a local animal agency or placement of an advertisement in the local newspaper. A telephone survey was conducted to identify methods participants used to find the pets' owners.

RESULTS: 156 of 188 (83%) individuals completed the survey. Fifty-nine of the 156 (38%) pets were reunited with their owners; median time to reunification was 2 days (range, 0.5 to 45 days). Only 1 (3%) cat owner was found, compared with 58 (46%) dog owners. Pet owners were found as a result of information provided by an animal agency (25%), placement of a newspaper advertisement (24%), walking the neighborhood (19%), signs in the neighborhood (15%), information on a pet tag (10%), and other methods (7%). Most finders (87%) considered it extremely important to find the owner, yet only 13 (8%) initially surrendered the found pet to an animal agency. The primary reason people did not surrender found pets was fear of euthanasia (57%). Only 97 (62%) individuals were aware they could run a found-pet advertisement in the newspaper at no charge, and only 1 person who was unaware of the no-charge policy placed an advertisement.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Veterinarians and shelters can help educate people who find lost pets about methods to search for the pets' owners.


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