Adopting out stray animals is rewarding, but getting them back to their homes is even better. Returning an animal to their owner is the ideal outcome for lost pets. As part of the national Maddie’s Fund No Place Like Home challenge, our shelter worked diligently throughout the month of March to increase our return to home rate along with dozens of other shelters who participated in this initiative. We were challenged to establish innovative ways to help even more pets get back home. As a result, we successfully increased our return to home rate by 82% and reunited more pets with their owners than ever before.
In our goal to reunite more pets with their families, we came up with a variety of initiatives that helped us succeed, including:
- Extending the amount of time we hold animals in the shelter before putting them up for adoption, so owners have more time to find them.
- Lowering the cost of microchips to make them more accessible to all.
- Offering microchipping the field so owners can skip the step of coming into the shelter.
- Offering microchip scanners to local law enforcement so they can find owners before the animals need to come to us.
- Partnering with Finding Rover, a website for lost and found animals.
- Posting found pet posters in the area where we pick up a stray animal so owners may see the flier
“These initiatives have added some additional steps to the process, but necessary steps to ensure that we are doing all we can do to find the animals’ owners. Our ultimate goal is to reunite animals with their owners and these new initiatives enable us to be better at that.”
Alex Pelkowski, Pet Help Center Manager
Jennifer Lopez and her son Jaden recently reunited with their beloved cat, Oreo, over one year after she had gone missing, thanks to the fact that she was microchipped!
Hayden Carrol, our lead Animal Protection Officer, can speak to the impact these changes have had in the field. “Immediately upon initiating these protocols we have seen a positive effect in the community,” he said. “Establishing contact with residents in the immediate area where a stray animal is found has led to positive conversations about the animals in the community and a better understanding within the community about our organization.”
Most importantly however, these changes are helping more animals get back home. Since starting this initiative, our return to home rate has increased exponentially. In 2020, our average return to home rate was 28 animals per month, but in March of this year, that number rose to 51, which is an 82% increase!
We have no plans to stop these changes to the way we operate. Seeing more animals get reunited with their families is so fulfilling, but even more importantly, it provides joy and comfort to the pets and families who get to see each other again. We hope to continue making a difference in the community by reuniting animals with their owners through innovation and creativity. If you would like to support us in our mission to home as many animals as possible, please consider making a donation through our website at www.berksarl.org/donate.