Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lost Dog? Search Wisely!

Free enterprise is certainly the foundation this country is built on and I'm an avid supporter of it. It's what ensures that we have choices -- choices in brands of bread, choices in internet service providers, choices in animal shelters and rescues. Although, sometimes it seems that, with so many brands and so many options, it's not only confusing, it's often difficult to make the right decision.

This seems to be the case when it comes to lost and found dog listings. They seem to be popping up all over the internet now, and who's to know whether they will actually do any good in locating a lost dog.

After a quick Google search, I found three potential lost dog services. The first, Fido Finder (FF), listed only two found dogs in Arlington, Virginia. At the Arlington animal shelter, we know that there are more than two dogs that have been found in Arlington and far more that are lost. The second site, Hugs for Homeless Animals (HHA), only allowed me to search by state. The listings did include the city, but no dogs were found in Arlington. The third, Lost Your Pet, actually charges $10 a listing and returned absolutely no results for found dogs in Arlington.

To their credit, FF and HHA do not charge for the listing (HHA does request a donation to their organization, though). A free listing certainly doesn't seem to hurt and may aid somewhat in the search for a missing dog, but it is imperative that dog owners understand the need to contact their local animal shelter.

Most animal shelters will take and actively search lost and found reports. Of course, those who live in a dense area should also consider filing reports with all area shelters. Seem redundant? Not at all. Unfortunately, not all shelters have the infrastucture to share reports with other organizations and, while a dog may have been lost in a town like Alexandria, a concerned citizen who may work there but live in Arlington, may bring the dog to the shelter he or she knows. There is also no substitute for ensuring that current lost dog signs are hung around the neighborhood and that neighbors are contacted.

If a dog is lost, it can be heartbreaking experience and many owners may go the extra mile to find him. Just make sure that the first resource is your local animal shelter and the "extra mile" is an online listing.

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