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2008-07-23 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Time to get up on my soapbox: If you find a dog that is not wearing ID tags, the dog belongs in the town shelter ASAP- not stashed in your house, or tucked away at Aunt Tilly's. Dogs do not fall under the "Finders Keep­ers; Losers Weepers" rule. Some people prefer to hold onto the foundling. Calling the shelter with a listing is okay for starters, but not good enough if a similar lost dog has not been reported. Mixed breeds, especially, are hard to distinguish over the phone. The dog should be ac­cessible at the shelter in the town where found so an owner can make a positive ID. On the same token, people who lose dogs should visit all surrounding shelters in person. Both finders and losers need to hang up posters too. Don't rely on a phone search. Case in point: A woman many years ago called a shelter to say she lost a male Dane puppy. Shelter said they didn't have him. She came down anyway to find her pup miss-sexed. Her Great Dane with personal plumb­ing bigger than Delaware was sitting in the female section. No matter how bedraggled the found dog might look, you cannot assume the dog has been dumped. The dog may have been stolen, or may be many steps removed from its real home, just like the horse in Black Beauty…."But, Mrs. Milkbone, dog detec­tive, I saw a Beagle thrown from a car." The vil­lain still might not be the real owner. A disgruntled relative or bad Samaritan could have heave-hoed Snoopy. There may well be distraught folks trying desperately to find their beloved pet; and the shelter, not your living room, is the "clearinghouse" where they will go to search.

I am tired of hearing that it is cruel to put a stray in the "pound." To the contrary, the municipal shelter is the logical, legal, and safe haven the found dog should be in (temporarily). The state says the shelter must keep a stray 5 days before putting the dog up for adoption; most localities make the holding period a full week to give owners the benefit of the doubt. The shelter, not your kitchen, is the facility where the found dog will be scanned for a microchip, vac­cinated, checked against the ever changing lost and found lists, and available for public viewing. If you are concerned about the dog's welfare or think you'd like to rescue him, put a hold on the stray. This way you will have first "dibs" if no one is searching. Once you adopt at the shelter, the dog is licensed in your name. Otherwise you have technically stolen someone else's dog. In addition, the longer you har­bor a found dog before turning him into the shelter, the less likely the real owner will ever get the dog back.

Poster Pets of the Week
Recent cases involving found dogs provide further proof:

Brown dog, left and Fanny Mae
1) Last month "Blaze" the Jack Rus­sell Terrier mix found in N. Amityville and turned into Babylon Shelter had a microchip that traced to a lady in Atlanta who had lost him 6 months before. We flew him home to Georgia. ("Pets" on­line 6/12/08.) 2) Several weeks ago a Westie came into a town shelter. He had an unregis­tered

microchip. Shelter went the extra mile and traced him through the store that sold him. Turned out the dog had been lost for 2 years. Lady walks in, looking for her wandering Westie. Shel­ter asks her how long she had him. She said her aunt found the dog 2 years ago and gave him to her. Westie is reunited that day with grateful, original owner. 3) Lady heroically rescues a groomed Shih-tzu off Cross Island Parkway. However, for some inexpli­cable reason she brings the dog to a Nassau vet, not her vet, saying she wants to keep the dog if no one calls. Why would they call this doctor? Hospital also traces the dog's chip via the store that sold him. Dog lived a block from Cross Island. Owners rush down to reclaim him. •Cases #1-3 demonstrate the value of having your pet microchipped, and registered in your name. Col­lars and tags are a MUST, but collars can come off. Microchips outlive dogs and cats. Only shelters and veterinary hospitals have scanners to read these tran­sponders. No one is going to locate a chip if you keep the found dog in your bedroom. 4) A friend who should know better is driving home from N. Carolina. Chihuahua wanders into the gas station on the interstate. She asks the gas station and mini mart if they recognize the dog. Nope. She scoops Chi up, then drives the dog home to NY with­out calling police or animal control, without leav­ing any contact info. She asks us for help to place the dog. Her know-it-all friends go ballistic that she MUST try to locate the owner first. After many phone calls, turns out the Chihuahua belonged to an elderly man living right behind the N. Carolina gas station. •If nothing else, Case #4 gives us a glimpse into how "Blaze" the Jack Russell may have gotten from Georgia to New York unscathed. 5) A vet who also should know better finds a scruffy mix on the road and refuses to turn the dog into the shelter because the dog is matted and thin. She places the dog in a store advertising he will be up for adoption after a week. Oh really? **Imagine if this were your dog…My Afghan is thin and microchipped. If, heaven forbid, she got away, she'd be matted in less than 5 minutes. I shud­der to think that she could be found by some do-gooder who would immediately give her away. All found dogs belong in the town shelter. That's a cru­cial reason why we have these municipal sanctuar­ies. •For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon. The wrong shelter list was printed with super-sweet "Fanny Mae's" photo last week. This homeless Border Collie mix in Cage 5 wants to be bailed out by someone more loving than the Fed. Fanny Mae has a unique profile and hairdo reminiscent of Larry Fine. She's shown here posing with my Three Stooges doll. (Don't ask.) The "Generic brown dog" in Cage 28 is a playful Lab/Shepherd blending in with the canine crowd al­though her sparkling temperament shines. Cats: white kitten in the lobby; spayed eviction sweeties.

Dogs: "Brandy" Cage 39-young, friendly Chessie/Pit, Shelter arranged for surgery to remove a large cyst on her back; "Sammy"-Cage 13-lonely black Lab; "Scooby" Cage 4-chubby Pit mix.

•Low Cost Microchip Clinic- The Mayor's Alli­ance for NYC Animals has kindly offered to hold a Home Again chip clinic at the Last Hope Dog Walk in Wantagh Park Sat. 9/13 from 1:30 to 5:30.

$25 per dog or cat includes microchip and registra­tion. Great savings. Call 631-661-6164.

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