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Proactive Redemption



At animal shelters across the nation, it is common practice for stray animals to be picked up and brought straight to the shelter, where staff then sit passively by, hoping that families come looking for their pets. There are many problems with this approach. In many communities, for example, multiple shelters may serve the area. Since lost pets do not know, recognize or follow our arbitrary city boundaries, the families of lost pets might not even know where to look. In some areas, the number of impound centers where people need to look is overwhelming.


In the greater Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, for example, there are dozens of licensed impound centers, many of which have very limited public hours. For these and other reasons the chances of an impounded stray animal being reclaimed by his/her owner in the USA is poor.


The good news, however, is that all across the USA, a new kind of animal control is ushering in a whole new approach to getting lost pets back to their families. It is called Proactive Redemption, and it starts in the field before a pet is brought to the shelter. The idea is simple: rather than waiting for the family to come find their pet, animal control can try to figure out where the pet belongs.


With a good Proactive Redemption effort, animal control will do all or most of the following:In the field, before bringing the pet to the shelter:


  • Check pets for all forms of identification, including tags, tattoos and microchips.

  • Follow-up on any found identification by phone and/or email.

  • Knock on doors of neighbors near where the animals are found to see if they are recognized.

  • Check to see if there are lost pet fliers posted in the neighborhood.

  • Search the Lost & Found pet systems for the area.

  • Call the shelter to see if a lost pet report has been filed.

  • Make every effort to return pets to their owners without ever bringing them to the shelter.


If a pet must be brought to the shelter:


  • Re-scan for micrcochips if none were found in the field.

  • Photograph the pet and post it on the Internet promptly.

  • Continue checking lost pet listings to try to find matches.

  • Share information with other impound centers in the area who may hear from people looking for lost pets.


Taking a proactive approach to pet redemption saves lives, brings revenue to the shelter and generates community good will. For more information, watch the video (left) of Mitch Schneider of Washoe Regional Animal Services talk about how they revolutionized animal control in Reno, Nevada through Proactive Redemption.


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