Kids & Pets
July 2, 2020
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Finding strays out of Sonoma County

By: Mickey Zeldes
February 1, 2019

Let’s say you are starting your drive back home after a vacation in Tahoe or Monterey and you find a stray dog.  What do you do?  The dog’s best chance of being reunited with his family is to leave him in the area, obviously, but you are in a hurry.  What do you do?  You are an animal lover and wouldn’t be able to sleep with worry about the dog getting hit by a car or starving or worse so leaving her there on her own is out of the question.  What do you do?

Last week a couple came to the shelter with a dog they had rescued on their way home from Kelseyville.  That’s about 1-1/2 hours away.  She was mature, appeared well cared for and sadly didn’t have on a collar with tags nor did she have a microchip.  When we asked why they brought her all the way to Rohnert Park they said they didn’t know where else to take her.  Do you have any idea how many shelters and vet offices they must have driven past on their way back home?  How would they have known that?  As my friend likes to say “wish we had a hand held device that could find that out for us.”  Google knows everything!

Although they were acting in the dog’s best interest not to leave her out on the road in a fairly deserted wooded area, imagine if that was your dog.  Sure she escaped her yard and was wandering loose.   Glad she was rescued before she got hurt and taken to a shelter for safe keeping.  But imagine having to drive a 3-hour round trip to get your dog back!  That’s at least better than the time we had a dog brought to us that was found in San Luis Obispo!  Every county has at least one animal shelter.  There are many veterinarians, especially emergency clinics that are open at night, who would be willing to take in a local stray and contact animal control in the morning if you found the animals after hours.  As a last resort you can always call the sheriff or local police to see who they recommend you contact for help.  It might add another hour to your drive but if your goal is to help the animal, please think local first!

Through some diligent detective work and several phone calls to animal agencies, we found one that had received a lost report (responsible pet guardian!) that matched our girl.  We emailed photos and they confirmed it was the same lost dog.  Through that report we were able to contact the owner, who fortunately was so happy that his dog was safe that he wasn’t even angry at how far he had to go to retrieve her.  Would you have been so gracious?  He was an elderly gentleman without a smart phone so he recruited a friend to do the long drive with him.  It was a sweet reunion and we were happy to return his pet, now microchipped, to this caring man.  

It would have made his life easier though if his pup had a microchip and tag and he only had to drive to his local shelter to get her, so here’s the lesson – find a stray?  Turn him in to a local shelter, (or vet clinic)!  It truly does give a lost pet the best chance of being reunited with his family! 

Upcoming Events

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.

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