OK, here’s a question for you. If you found a stray dog or cat on your property, would you help him or her? I’m guessing that if you are reading this article you are somewhat of an animal lover. Most people would help the dog because dogs aren’t usually seen roaming around alone. It’s clear that he is lost (or possibly abandoned) and would need help to survive in a suburban area like Rohnert Park. But the cat?
Experience has shown that most people would not immediately help the cat unless he or she clearly looked injured or sick. The thinking goes like this “maybe she’s a feral and used to living on her own.” Or, “She may be someone’s outside cat that wandered over here. I’m sure she will head home soon.” And it’s not until the cat has been around consistently for several days that people start to really take notice. Then they feel bad for her and put out some food (good way to keep the cat around your property!) and wondering why she’s not leaving! But, if the cat is wearing a collar and tags the thinking changes. Obviously, she is not feral. She must have a family (cats are not born with collars, so someone must have cared enough for this animal to go out and buy a collar and tag and put it on her). Now she may still be an outdoor, or inside/outside cat but you can’t know that unless the tag says so.
Which raises the next question about why people feel it is safe and OK to just open the door and let a cat roam about freely on her own? When you count up the number of possible hazards that an outdoor cat faces on a daily basis you quickly realize just how dangerous the world is for an unsupervised animal. The fact that there are cats that have gone in and out for years just means that people are pushing the odds. But that is a topic for another time. My point is that the simple fact the cat is wearing a collar is enough to motivate more people to offer assistance.
That may just be to call the owner (assuming there is a tag with a phone number on it) and see if the cat is lost or just allowed to wander free or to bring the cat into the shelter so she can be scanned for a microchip. Depending on the answer, the finder can decide if they want to
return the cat to the owners or take the cat home and assume care, or surrender the cat to the shelter. Most people, if they find a pet with a tag (phone number or address) will contact the owners themselves and just return the pet. A tag gives a good Samaritan an easy way to do a good deed and help the animal without involving the shelter or anyone else. If it were that easy more people would help more pets!
January 1st is National Check Your Pets ID Day (not officially but it should be!). Make sure your pets are wearing a well- fitting collar and have a readable tag with current information. We offer personalized tags free at the shelter for residents of RP and Cotati and just $5 for everyone else. And free microchips too! There is no reason for your pet not to have this advantage if he or she ever wanders away from home (or there is a fire, an earthquake, or someone breaks into your home). We make it easy for you to do the right thing so take advantage of this offer and come on by for your free tag and chip. It’s the traditional way to celebrate this holiday!
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati City. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed 1-6:30 p.m., Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.