Heard that often-quoted stat that one in three pets in the United States will go missing in their lifetime? The folks at Petco Love had heard it, too, but couldn’t find a source for that data. What to do? After conducting their own research and confirming it—their survey found 37% of current pet owners had lost a pet at least once—they realized that to successfully get that percentage down, they needed to find a way to reach the public.
And this past April 23, they took the first step with the launch of Petco Love Lost, a national database of lost and found pets that both the public and shelters can use. The Association’s Katherine Shenar and Dr. Josh Fisher of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control recently sat down with Petco Love’s President, Susanne Kogut, and Director of Lifesaving, Chelsea Staley, for all the deets. You can listen to the complete podcast and read on for high-level takeaways.
It’s more efficient than putting up flyers
“Websites can be pretty confusing,” says Susanne Kogut of typical lost-and-found sections on shelters’ sites, “with their lists of 20 things to do when you have lost or found a pet. It’s important to have that info out there, but at the end of the day, it blows my mind that we are in a digital age and are still telling people to put up a poster on a telephone pole.”
Petco Love Lost is simple to use, and features patented facial recognition technology. When a photo of a missing dog or cat is uploaded, it’s immediately scanned to determine if the pet has been reported as found and currently at a participating shelter or with a neighbor in the community.
It’s a game changer…
“As a director of municipal shelter,” says Josh Fisher, “I think Petco Love Lost is a game changer.” For one, it can save folks who have lost their pets a lot of time. “We often assume that the public knows the difference between their local municipal agency and local nonprofit shelter, but they don’t. The photos of found pets will tell you what facility the animal is in and where that facility is, so you don’t spend all your time driving around going from shelter to shelter.”
Well, it’s a bigger game changer if everyone uses it…
“We’ve been working with shelters,” reports Kogut, “and step 1 is getting every group we can to upload all their animals,” and remove them from the database only when they’ve been adopted or had an outcome. So far, 880 of your colleagues have posted 53K animals.
It works with most shelter software
The platform integrates seamlessly with PetPoint, Chameleon, Shelterluv, and ShelterBuddy, and they’re actively working on getting Petstablished and RescueGroups.org on board.
It’s focused on the future
“Shelters have evolved over time, and we’re looking to be community resource centers,” says Kogut. “That means we’re asking the community to help us in our mission, and when we do that, we need to give them tools to help them help us.”
Petco Love Lost is such a tool, and runs on the belief that caring members of the community would be “willing to take a pet they found off the street if they knew there was a simple way they could find the owner.” And if they can’t easily trap a cat, they can still take a photo and upload it to the database.
Not yet a part of Petco Love Lost? Get more info here about becoming a Partner.