By Janet McAfee

The odds are great if you own several dogs and cats that one of them will somehow go missing.  It’s a pet lover’s worst nightmare, and we start imaging the worst of scenarios while frantically searching.  When I was growing up, our senior Australian Shepherd dog disappeared from the back yard, never to be found.  That was before social media and an array of tools that can help find Fido or Fluffy.

Alice Chow from Dream Team Angels rescue in San Bernardino contacted me this week regarding their adopted pup Stomps.  Stomps was missing from his yard in Sun City Palm Desert, escaping from a gap in the fence.  Alice was rushing volunteers from San Bernardino to help, but they were an hour away.  I called the distraught owner Laura with some concrete things to do immediately.

Laura was sobbing hysterically, but I asked her to calm down and assured her the odds are excellent of finding a missing pet within a gated community.

Jake reports, “Not a single business said ‘no’ to putting a poster in their window.  We were heartbroken, but the support from so many people in the community was amazing and we are very thankful.  We are incredibly touched by the outpouring of support.  We gave flyers to homeless people who were also extremely helpful.”

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On September 21, after several false leads, came the phone call, “I’ve found your dog!”  A woman near Farmington recognized Ollie from the flyers when she spotted him in an orchard.  The friendly dog came when she called his name.  There soon was a jubilant reunion.  However, Ollie lost 12 pounds during his ordeal, and he required surgery to repair the broken femur in one of his back legs.

Countless dogs go missing every day.  It’s heartbreaking not to know how they are, whether they are hungry, injured, or even if they are still alive.  Stomp’s story reminds us to involve social media, include as many people as possible, and DON’T GIVE UP.  Here are some tips should your dog ever go missing.

CREATE A FLYER  – Not computer savvy?  Find a young person to help.  Boiler plates to make flyers with your dog’s photo are available on www.bestfriends.org or www.petbond.com.  Put up flyers on bulletin boards including Starbucks, vet clinics, animal shelters, and on telephone poles.  Pass out flyers to postal workers, gardeners, utility workers, tree trimmers, and others who work outside.  Keep flyers simple like the one Jake made for Ollie, and offer a REWARD.

MAKE SIGNS – Large, colorful, eye catching size signs can be posted on telephone poles, at dog parks, and at intersections controlled by traffic lights.

SOCIAL MEDIA –  Post your dog’s photo on Facebook and ask your friends to SHARE and TAG.  Post on the Facebook page “Lost and Found Pets in the Coachella Valley”. Post your dog on www.NextDoor.com and Paw Boost.  Include your telephone number and location where the animal went missing.  Check Petharbor.com and Craig’s List.

GO DOOR TO DOOR IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD – Lost dogs that are friendly often end up in a within a 20-block radius from your home.  Go door-to-door in the immediate neighborhood.  Check backyards, vacant homes, fields, schools, businesses, and underneath cars.  Children are often a good source of information about stray pets in their neighborhood.

CHECK LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTERS  – Go in person to your local public shelter since you are the best one to recognize your pet.  All shelters check for microchips and ID tags, but sometimes these get lost.  Return to the shelter every few days.  Look in the kennels, search the “Found” book, the “Dead” book, and fill out a lost report at the front desk.  Check with private shelters and rescues.

CONTACT THE MEDIA – Check to see if local television and radio stations have programs to help with missing dogs.  Post a notice under the “Lost Pets” section in local newspapers such as the Desert Sun and Penny Saver.  Continue to check the “Found Pets” column.

DON’T GIVE UP! –  Most missing pets are returned to their owners within a short time.  Others come back home weeks or months later.  Some that are microchipped turn up years later in shelters thousands of miles away.  Unneutered male dogs are much more likely to run away, and this is yet another reason to sterilize your pet.

Janetmcafee8@gmail.com

Here is a partial list of Inland Empire shelters and rescue groups where you can adopt a wonderful dog or cat.

COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – This county shelter is now open for walk in visitors 10am-4pm Mon through Sat.  You can view the animals at all four Riverside county shelters at www.rcdas.org, and get the ID number, 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms, (760) 343-3644. (Public)

PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – This shelter is open every day except Tuesday.  View their animals online at www.psanimalsshelter.org, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Public)

DESERT HOT SPRINGS ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL  – Open daily 9:30-4:30.  View their animals at www.cityofdhs.org/animal-care-control.com, 65810 Hacienda Ave, Desert Hot Springs, (760) 329-6411 ext. 450.

ANIMAL SAMARITANS – Call for an appointment to adopt.  View their animals at www.animalsamaritans.org.  Email acorrow@animalsamaritans.org to foster.  Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918.  (Private)

CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE  – Call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert.  View their animals at www.californiapawsrescue.com, (760) 656-8833.  (Private)

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – Call for an appointment to adopt a dog or cat.  This shelter has lots of big dogs and some cats. View some of their animals at www.orphanpet.com. Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203.  (Private)

KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed so call for an appointment to visit and adopt a cat.  Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, www.kittylandrescue.org, (760) 251-2700.  (Private)

FOREVER MEOW – Foster based  rescue for cats located in Rancho Mirage.  Contact them at www.ForeverMeow.org, (760) 335-6767. (Private)

PRETTY GOOD CAT – Foster based rescue for cats located in La Quinta.  Contact them at www.prettygoodcat.com, (760) 660-3414 (Private)

BFF4pets – Foster based rescue for dogs and cats located in La Quinta.  Email them at rescues@bff4pets.com, (310) 431-7818 (Private)

LOVING ALL ANIMALS – Call for appointment to visit and adopt dogs. Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella, www.lovingallanimals.org, (760) 834-7000. (Private)

ANIMAL RESCUE CENTER OF CALIFORNIA (ARC), Foster based rescue for dogs and cats in Indio. www.thearc-ca.org, (760) 877-7077 (Private)

LIVING FREE ANIMAL SANCTUARY – Large outdoor shelter for dogs and cats up Hwy 74, Mountain Center, view animals at www.living-free.org, and call (951) 659-4687. (Private)

MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree, www.mbhumanesociety.com, call between 11am-2pm (760) 366-3786 (Private)

CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is now open for Walk in visitors 12 – 3pm Tuesday through Saturday. Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet.  Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter is now open for walk ins 7 days a week. Call (909) 386-9280.  View animals at www.sbcounty.gov/acc and get the ID number of animal you are interested in adopting, 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).

DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area.  Contact them through website www.DreamTeamangelsrescue.com, (360) 688-8884. (Private)