In an effort to increase its return-to-owner rate, Front Street Animal Shelter is waiving all fees for owners to get their lost pets out of the shelter for an entire year.
Nationally, fewer than one out of three dogs and one out of 10 cats in shelters are claimed by their owners. At Front Street, that number is a little better — 44% of animals were claimed in 2020. However, the shelter believes it can do better.
“Caring for so many lost pets is expensive, and reclaim fees have helped to offset some of those costs,” said Phillip Zimmerman, Front Street Animal Shelter manager. “However, we are concerned that many animals may not be picked up because their families are experiencing financial hardship, and we don’t want cost to be a barrier.”
The fees will be covered by Friends of Front Street, a nonprofit organization that supports the shelter’s lifesaving efforts.
“Our hope is that by getting more animals back to their original homes, additional space at the shelter will be created, animals will experience less stress and disease transmission, and resources can be used for those animals who truly have nowhere else to go,” said Jim Houpt, president of Friends of Front Street.
This new program went into effect last week – just prior to the Fourth of July fireworks, which trigger many pets to run away. The days and weeks after the Fourth are often the busiest of the year for shelters nationwide, Zimmerman said.
This program is not available in cases where staff reasonably suspect abuse or criminal neglect of a pet. Additional limitations may apply in the future.
If your pet has gone missing, the shelter recommends using the services listed on the City’s lost-and-found pet page, posting Facebook lost and found pets pages, posting on Craigslist, Nextdoor and other lost pet sites, talking to neighbors and hanging large missing pet posters in the area, Zimmerman said.
Residents should also check all area animal shelter websites for at least a few weeks after a pet runs away, since it often takes time for pets to be found and brought into a shelter.