Webinar presented by:
Boost your return-to-owner rates! Immediacy, leniency, partnerships and non-judgmental attitudes can help you successfully return lost pets to their owners – or find new homes for them more easily.
- Asheville Humane Society, North Carolina: Jennifer Brehler, Director of Operations
- Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Colorado: Ellen Taylor, Vice President of Operations, and Bridgette Chesne, Director of Shelter Services
Listen to the recording
Download the slides (.pdf)
Top Tips From This Webinar
Create an atmosphere of respect
That includes not holding pets hostage because of fees. “Lenient policies save more lives,” point out the experts. Keep in mind that a good owner may be in a financial bind and unable to pay the reclaim fees. It’s better to return a pet to a home where he's loved, even if you return the animal for free.
Train your staff in interpersonal skills
Suspend judgment and rethink your rules – instead of insisting that owners come into your facility to report a lost pet, consider accepting call-in and email reports also. Owners aren’t always able to get to a facility in a timely manner when a pet goes missing.
Establish a reporting system
Document everything for internal communications. That means all leads, conversations and snippets of information.
Immediately post pics and descriptions of strays
Embrace many channels, including social media, Craigslist, community bulletin boards, etc. As for fears that non-owners may try to claim an animal, “we actually encourage that,” Chesne says. “It gives the animal a better chance of getting out of the shelter alive.” And such claims can be kept to a minimum by asking for details about the animal, photos, medical records – or even just chatting face to face.
Don’t wait for an animal to become your “property” to begin diagnostics. An added benefit is that if you know more about the animal’s behavioral issues, and have met medical needs such as spay/neuter, an unclaimed animal has a better chance of finding a new home.
Consider a guardian reclaim program
Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Colo. gives people the option to reclaim their relinquished pets if the shelter is not able to find homes for them. If the owners do opt to reclaim, free behavioral or medical support is often available.
Empower good samaritans
People who find a lost pet may be asked if they can keep the animal at their home for a short time while the owner is sought. That helps minimize the animal’s stress and helps the shelter manage its population.
Share photos and stories on your website and Facebook of how reunions were brought about.