It happens to everyone at one time or another. Your pet is accidentally let out of the house or gate by someone, or your pet is clever enough to find a way out to do some exploring, and gets lost.
Each year, more than 6,000 animals enter through the doors of the Columbia County Animal Care and Control shelter. While some of these animals are surrendered to the shelter by their owners for various reasons, the vast majority are picked up as strays. Less than 600 of these are claimed by their owners, but we feel that hundreds more pets could be returned to their homes if owners knew what to do.
The shelter holds animals for five days to give owners a chance to claim their pet and then the animal is put up for adoption. Many are not fortunate enough to get adopted by a new owner, so Columbia County Animal Care and Control offers the following tips to help get many more animals back home with their owners in a short time.
Call Columbia County Animal Care and Control at (706) 541-4077 to report your lost pet.
Ask if there are any animals that match the description of the one you are missing. If not, request that your pet be added to the "Lost and Found database." Please be as descriptive as possible when giving your information to the staff.
Check back with the shelter twice a day (mid-morning and afternoon) to see if your pet has been picked up.
Visit our shelter on a regular basis, every day if possible, to see if your pet is there. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Please remember that you can't wear open shoes, such as sandals or flip flops, in the kennel area due to the sanitation processes.)
Make sure that your pet always wears an identification tag! You can have a tag made at Columbia County Animal Care and Control for $2.
It is also highly recommended that you have your pet microchipped by your veterinarian. Remember to register the microchip with the manufacturer. Too many times animals come into the shelter with a microchip, but if the owner has never registered it, we still have no idea who the owner is.
If you are house sitting and the pet gets out, please provide the shelter the owner's contact information as well as yours. We also ask that the sitter visit the shelter regularly until the owner returns to see if the pet has been found.
Notify your vet of your missing pet. Someone else might find your pet and can contact the vet if your pet has tags.
Post a picture of your lost pet on the Animal Care and Control "lost pet" board. Bring the picture by the shelter, or e-mail a copy to Joe Guerin (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, address and phone number.
Post fliers in your neighborhood and let your neighbors know your pet is lost. This gives you more "eyes" looking for your pet in your area.
Visit our Web site at www.columbiacountyga.gov to view photos of animals we have at the shelter to see if your pet is posted.
Place an ad for your missing pet in the newspaper and available pet service Web sites. Most of our local media sources provide this service. (Add a picture, too.)
Register your lost pet with Pet Harbor: Go to www.petharbor.com, enter your zip code, choose Columbia County Animal Care and Control and Augusta Animal Services (in case your pet crossed over the line), then click "search." Choose "I lost my pet" and enter a description.
If you do not see your pet, click "Register your lost pet." An e-mail will be sent to both shelters once all information has been entered. When an animal that matches your lost pet's description is brought into the shelter, you will be notified via e-mail.
If your pet returns home, please notify the shelter you registered with so that your information can be removed from the database.
If you take these actions as soon as you realize your pet is missing, you will have a very good chance of finding your pet quickly and the Animal Care and Control staff will have a 100 percent opportunity to return your pet to you if it has the proper ID.
If you would like to give one of our shelter pets a home, the adoption fees are $25 for adult dogs and cats and $20 for puppies and kittens. Please call Animal Care and Control at (706) 541-4077 if you have any questions or need more information.
(Pam Tucker is director of Columbia County's Emergency Services Division.)
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