Ideal New Year’s treat for your cat or dog
RP shelter has plenty of free ID tags and microchips
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By Mickey Zeldes  January 4, 2013 12:00 am

Meowser, a pretty tabby, was recently brought into the shelter when a Good Samaritan found the cat hanging around her property. A quick scan with a microchip reader revealed the kitty had a chip, and her parents were ecstatic when they received our call. Turns out Meowser had been missing for more than two months, and her worried guardians had just given up hope of seeing their kitty again. This scene is happening over and over as the pool of animals with microchips grows in our community. And we’re committed to making it happen even more.

A review of our statistics showed that the majority of animals that we handle are strays – lost pets. The national average of stray dogs returned home is about 20 percent and for cats it’s a dismal 2 percent. We are proud our numbers are much higher – 60 percent of our stray dogs go home and 8 percent of cats – but that is still way too low. The reasons why cats so often go unclaimed are many and varied, but the bottom line is we don’t know where they live or who their owners are. If only they could talk! Next to that, though, a simple name tag and microchip would provide a lost pet with a ticket home.

So, of the 401 stray dogs and 415 stray cats to come to our shelter in 2011, 241 dogs and only 35 cats were reunited with their families. It left us with 160 stray dogs and 380 stray cats to feed, vaccinate, spay/neuter, cure if sick, repair if injured, overcome behavioral issues and then rehome. That uses up a lot of time, space, and resources. If we could improve our return-to-owner numbers, far more animals could be helped. If, instead of spending our time trying to find new homes for animals what if we just helped them get back to the homes they were lost from?

This past June, with funding from the Animal Shelter League, we started offering free ID tags to all dogs and cats in Rohnert Park and Cotati. Every animal adopted or redeemed from our shelter went out sporting a new ID tag, too. And in December, again through the financial support of the ASL, we offered free microchips to all pet parents in our jurisdiction – and we will continue this offer until we’ve reached 500 pets chipped. Now there is no reason every animal in Rohnert Park and Cotati should not be easily and quickly reunited with his or her family if they should accidentally wander away.

Our focus this coming year will be to dramatically increase our return to owner rates for lost pets. We want to truly become just a lost-and-found holding facility with a quick turnaround. Find a pet? Look at the tag and take him home. If the collar came off, bring him to the shelter, we scan for the microchip, which gives us the information we need to call the parents, they come claim their pet. That quick, that easy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

Upcoming events: Meet the Bunny Event, second Saturday of each month (next is Jan. 12), 1-5:30 p.m. Meet our adoptable rabbits, have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable rabbit volunteers, bring your rabbit for a free nail trim and support our small animals by shopping our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, treats and toys.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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