News

Pet FBI Featured on WOSU / NPR “Tech Tuesday”

Ann FisherThis morning our founder and Executive Director, Maresa Fanelli, was interviewed by Ann Fisher on Central Ohio’s National Public Radio affiliate, WOSU. “All Sides With Ann Fisher” examines topical issues and events in lively and informative interviews with an entertaining style.  Listeners participate via telephone, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter to add to the conversations. As always at WOSU, the coverage is fair and balanced with a civil tone.

Each Tuesday, the second hour of Ann’s broadcast is devoted to technology in today’s world. In her “Tech Tuesday” interview, Fanelli discussed the impact of the Google Ad Grant that Pet FBI was awarded.

Since its inception in 1998, Pet FBI has always depended on word of mouth to attract visitors. Fanelli explained the concept of pay-per-click and how the Google Ad Grant enables Pet FBI to come up at the top of online search results.  As more people post lost and found pet reports to one single central database, the better the chances of a successful reunion.

For people who have lost pets to connect online with those who have found them, there must be a “critical mass”.  Pet FBI  has been active in Ohio since 1998, and is well known. About 40% of Ohioans who submit a lost or found pet report eventually update the status to “reunited”. But it has only been two years since Pet FBI went national and scaled up the database, so the success rate nationally is less than 20%. But it is growing every day, and the Google ads are the major factor in that.

Fanelli also explained how petfbi.org works and how it is unique among the many lost and found pet web sites. For one thing users can do a well-defined, targeted search by timeframe and area. Moreover, Pet FBI keeps records for up to five years, unless the user inactivates it, which is a simple procedure. Perhaps most importantly, since Pet FBI is strictly non-commercial and non-profit, we can link to other sources of information online.

The problem with looking for a lost or found pet report online is that information is scattered everywhere. While Facebook and Craigslist are popular venues for posting lost pet reports, it is not possible to do a targeted search on those sites. Most other lost pet sites are for profit and charge a fee. Still, all-volunteer, not for profit Pet FBI has the largest, best designed and easiest to use of all the public lost pet databases online. Now with the Google Ad Grant we are closer to achieving our goal of getting more lost pets back home by consolidating the most information in a single central database.

Here’s a link to a podcast of our 15 minute opening segment on “All Sides With Ann Fisher – Tech Tuesday:

Compassionate Pet FBI Facebook Friends Rally to Help Pathetic Pooch

dog with huge mass
This poor fella, found in an alleyway in South Columbus with a large mass on his side, needs to visit the vet. His Good Sam is not in a position to absorb this unforeseen financial burden. 

Dog and good Sam

16 year old Good Sam. with Baby after a nice bath. Doesn’t he look grateful?

She posted on Pet FBI Ohio’s Facebook page and our kindly, caring Admin, Char, called for donations. Within 12 hours over $300 was donated by twenty good souls. When the first vet bill came in at $435, an anonymous donor swooped in and paid the balance. Another $210 came in after hours, That will go towards his ongoing care.

Dog at vet

Baby at vet

Baby is younger than he looks, does not have heart worms, and his blood panel came out OK. But they need to keep him a few days so they can do more tests and control his diet. It is dangerous to let  an animal or  a person gorge after a long period of not  eating. He will also need surgery most likely. You can follow our Facebook page for further bulletins. You may need to scroll down to Baby’s picture.

Fortunately, there is someone in the Good Sam’s family who can give Baby a good home, but his vet bills are not over yet. If you can, please make a donation to help Baby.

Donation link

Columbus Bar Crawl Benefits Pet FBI

Columbus Bar Crawl Guys and Pet FBI Director

From left to right:
Bill, Kyle, Maresa and Ryan – the Columbus Bar Crawl Guys and Pet FBI Director

There’s a group of great guys, old school chums from Columbus Ohio, that sponsor a bar crawl each year to benefit a local charity. At this year’s Crawl on April 9 Kyle, Ryan and Bill raised $1,200 for Pet FBI!

A few months back Kyle’s fifteen year old hound dog went missing. As often happens when a pet goes missing, Kyle who is normally a well-focused, organized and rational kind of person went all to pieces.  A neighbor suggested Pet FBI. Kyle sent a post with a picture of Cody to Facebook/PetFBI Ohio. Our ace admin, Char, moved it to the timeline and messaged him with encouragement and advice. Within hours the Good Sam who had found Cody saw the Facebook post and contacted Kyle. He was so relieved he broke down in tears. It was a joyful reunion.

Now Kyle has paid it forward in spades by sponsoring a great bar crawl to benefit Pet FBI. Participating sponsors besides many friends and co-workers were Westies Gastro Pub, Valters at Mannerchor, Jimmy V’s, Hey Hey Bar and Grill, & Planks Bier garten, all in German Village.  THANK YOU, ALL!

Shelter Posting Leads to Unlikely Recovery

cat in arms of dad

Beating the odds, thanks to shelter’s policy of posting to PetFBI.org

Kip, shown here in the arms of his Dad, had been missing for almost two months. A Good Samaritan found him and brought him in to Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) , an open admission shelter in Columbus, Ohio. Fortunately, CAHS, has some enlightened policies. For one thing, they post stray intakes on the free public database at petfbi.org. The Pet FBI lost and found pet database is the core of this web site and if all shelters took advantage of it, they would increase their recovery rates and lower their euthanasia rates. They would also spare themselves the trouble of escorting distraught pet parents in search of their lost pet through one or more holding areas.

Kip’s Dad had been checking the database and that’s how he discovered – almost two months after this beautiful kitty went missing – that he was at the shelter. Without the posting he would have had to visit the shelter regularly for almost two months. This would have been virtually impossible. For one thing, the shelter is on the other side of town from where he lives.

There is often an interval of many weeks or months before a cat “surfaces” and is brought to a shelter. A cat that is lost is inclined to keep a low profile and elude people until it is really desperate. By that time the cat’s family may have already given up! So Kip really beat the odds – thanks to CAHS’s policy of posting to PetFBI.org and his Dad’s persistence. As an added bonus, Kip was neutered and microchipped, another enlightened protocol at CAHS.

If you are reading this, please encourage your local shelter to take advantage of Pet FBI’s free database. All reports are strictly managed by the poster and can be edited, updated or inactivated at any time.

A Christmas Miracle …or …Annals of Amazing Cats!

25 year old cat recovered

25 Year Old “Mr. Kidders” Recovered Three Miles Away Visiting Old “Girlfriends”!

This 25 year old cat ended up three miles away, apparently attracted by some females he had visited previously!

Here is his Mom’s account of the reunion from her post on our Ohio Facebook page.

“A good Sam named Laura noticed the flyers I put up and called at 230 AM on Wednesday morning (the flyers did say to call anytime) and exhaustively told me that she had Mr. Kidders and would wait until I got off work at 3AM to come get him. When he went missing last year, he wound up at Laura’s but at that time he came back on his own…over 3 miles from home! She told me she has 2 female cats and that could be why he keeps finding his way back to her. Laura would not take any of the $250 reward offered, was just happy I had him back again and happy she could go to bed! Thank you Pet FBI and thank you all of those who prayed, searched and gave me their best wishes! This is my Christmas miracle getting my love back and I pray that everyone missing their pet gets the same blessing I did!  Thank you again!”

Pet FBI Exposes Scams on WSYX ABC 6 “Good Day Columbus”

Pet FBI on WSYX ABC TV

Pet FBI on “Good Day Columbus”!

Our dynamite Facebook Administrator. Char, has been coping with several scams reported by our Facebook posters. We had the opportunity to alert people through a spot on our local ABC station: WSYX ABC 6 . Click this link to watch the video interview about scams affecting lost and found pets.

A problem we are running into more and more often is having multiple people claim the same found pet. Usually it’s a purebred dog of some kind. People either claim the dog to keep or more often to sell. We cannot overstate the importance of demanding some kind of proof of ownership before you relinquish a pet you have found to someone who claims it. You should require vet records, license documentation and a photo. You can also tell if a dog is really being claimed rightfully by the dog’s behavior towards the people claiming it. Producing a Craigslist “Lost Pet” classified does not constitute sufficient proof because the scammers sometimes use the information in the Found Report to post a phony Lost Report after the fact.

The other scam people need to be aware of are the numerous for profit lost and found web sites that promise various contact services for a fee. Some of them are contacting people who post on Pet FBI repeatedly and pressuring them to buy their services. One such site that exhibits logos from the ASPCA, HSUS and the Better Business Bureau although they are in no way endorsed by those organizations. They have a donation link but they are not non-profit. They also claim an unrealistically high success rate.

Before engaging a contact service – and some are legitimate and can be helpful – be sure to read off-site reviews and contact the BBB in their zip where they are located.

Pet FBI “Special Agent” Teresa Aids in Recovery of Lost Dog

Lost Dog and Family

A Reunited Harry with his Human Brothers and Sister

Pet FBI “special agent”, our good pal and frequent hero, Teresa, saw Harry’s lost dog report on our database. (www.petfbi.org)

She contacted Harry’s Mom and encouraged her to post on our Facebook Ohio page as well. Teresa lives in the general area where Harry was lost so she shared his plight on Nextdoor.com. She soon received a couple of Harry sightings!

So what else would Teresa do on a blustery, rainy and cold day off? She went searching for Harry!

By following her intuition regarding where to look she actually came upon Harry! This remarkable woman then pulled over and sat outside of her car crunching on a bag of chips and making minimal eye contact in hopes of luring Harry as our pal Julia has taught us to do. Harry trotted off, however. But at the same moment his Mom happened to drive by looking for him! She encountered a rain-soaked Teresa. Teresa pointed Mom in his direction. Here is the happy result.

YOU TOO CAN BE A BECOME A PET FBI “SPECIAL AGENT”!

Here’s how: First, you do not need to brave the rain and the cold to go looking for lost pets in person. Just go to our page on how to help people recover lost pets read about what anyone can do unofficially.

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost — An Informative Podcast Courtesy of “The Great Dog Adventure”

 

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Lost - Link to Podcast

ATTENTION DOG LOVERS! “The Great Dog Adventure” is a great site for you with lots of useful and entertaining information and outstanding weekly podcasts. A recent one featured Pet FBI’s founder and Director, Maresa Fanelli. She shares lots of helpful tips and tricks, strategies and skills developed over our 17 years of helping people recover lost pets of all kinds. This podcast interview focuses on recovering lost dogs.

Shelter Statistics or Why the Odds of Finding Your Lost Pet at a Shelter are Against You

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Most lost pets are reunited through a shelter.

REALITY CHECK: Relatively few strays are reclaimed before being euthanized or adopted out to others.

What is the recovery rate for stray dogs in shelters?Dog in Shelter

According to the ASPCA “About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners. [2/3 vs. 1/3]” But only 17-30% of dogs are ever reclaimed by their owner. (See the ASPCA’s page on Shelter Statistics https://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics)

 

What is the recovery rate for stray cats in shelters?cats in shelter

For cats the stats are truly appalling – only 2 – 5% of cats ever get reclaimed.

(See The Humane Society of the United States site: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html ) In major metropolitan areas like Columbus, OH, for example, the numbers may even be worse. Of the 6,000+ cats taken in by Franklin County’s only open admission shelter in calendar year 2014, only 27 were successfully reunited and half of those only because they had a microchip.

Why is the recovery rate so low?

Given the odds against people getting to the shelter during that very small window of time when their pet might still be there, it is little wonder that the recovery rate is so low. Dogs have a better chance because they get picked up sooner and most states have laws requiring a minimum holding period for dogs. It may only be a few days or weeks for dogs, but in most states there is no mandated holding period for cats. In “kitten season” it is not unusual for a cat turned in to a shelter to be euthanized the same day. There is simply no holding space in adoption wards already full of more adoptable kittens.

What can be done to help people recover their lost pets in shelters?

If there were a generally accepted protocol for shelters of posting all strays to a public database it would save a lot of lives. This would spare people the trouble of having to get to one or more shelters almost every day when often the shelters are located on the other side of town and are only open at certain hours. Many sensitive people dread going to shelters and having to look at all those little faces knowing many if them are doomed.

Why Don’t Shelters Post Their Lost Pet Intakes?

Few shelters take advantage of available recent technology to post their intakes. Some shelter management software products have a module that facilitates posting lost pet intakes to the net, but they are usually very expensive and far out of reach for private humane societies. Fortunately, there are some free public databases that any shelter could use, including PetFBI.org. Which is strictly non-commercial and absolutely free, but there is a reluctance on the part of shelters to post stray intakes. The reason given is that they don’t want to invite “shopping”. Apparently there are people with dishonest motives who will claim a purebred dog, for example, with the intention of re-selling it. Or they will claim a breed of dog perceived as a “fighting” breed with the intention of fighting it. (Dog fighting is a cruel “sport” that is much more widespread than imagined.) But I find it hard to accept this reason as an obstacle to not posting strays. Surely, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks and people who claim an impounded animal have to pay a redemption fee. It is unlikely the same person would claim a pet fraudulently more than once.

How would posting lost pets to a public database help shelters?

A necessary condition of course would be that people know they can look online without having to call or come to the shelter. It would still be necessary to come in whenever there is a likely match, but people would be less likely to give up too soon. This would also ease things for shelters. If more of their “stray” intakes were reclaimed, it would lower their euthanasia rate, increase their adoption rate, and save them the trouble of dealing with repeated phone calls and visitors needing to go through the holding areas. Of course, there will always be some cases where it is absolutely necessary to go to the shelter (s). Many lost pets look so much alike.

Why Is There No Single Central Database?

Just as there is a national database for stolen cars, ideally, there would be one central database for lost and found pets. But realistically, this will never happen. There are multiple lost and found pet sites and most of them are for profit. Some offer useful contact services, like postcard mailings to many neighbors. Others offer services of dubious value like robo-calling or contacting shelters (You need to GO there in person!). Unfortunately a number of the online lost and found pet services are really just out to make a quick buck by exploiting people’s desperation. (This is possibly another factor why shelters are wary of online lost and found pet databases.)

What is a good resource for people who have lost or found a pet and for shelters? In 1998, Pet FBI was set up as a public database for individuals and shelters to use. Over the past 17 years it has evolved into the best designed and easiest to use public database online, strictly non-commercial and free. Pet families and Good Samaritans can readily connect before the stray needs to be turned into the shelter. There are many people who are hesitant to take a stray to the shelter because of the risks for the animal. Yet, the shelter is the obvious place a pet owner would look for their lost pet so shelters should have someone dedicated to searching reports of lost pets online. There are numerous sources of information besides the various databases. There are Facebook pages, Craigslist and newspaper classifieds. Even Twitter and Instagram are possible sources of information. Unfortunately, with the current state of affairs, anyone who has lost or found a pet needs to turn over many stones.

However, our experience with Pet FBI has shown that by achieving a critical mass of users reunion rates in excess of 35% for cats and 50% for dogs can be achieved. This is our documented success rate in Ohio where we have been helping people recover lost pets since 1998. In May of 2014 we overhauled the Pet FBI web site and database to service the entire United States and Puerto Rico. Already we have the largest database of lost and found pets anywhere online. (Just do a random comparative search!) Our national success rate is about 20% and growing steadily. In addition to the database we have comprehensive advice and contact information for other reliable resources. There is a great new feature: Once you post a report you will automatically be notified of any new potentially matching reports for 90 days. This system of automatic alerts is unique to Pet FBI.

Please help us save lives and by urging your local shelter to take advantage of this free resource. If they don’t want to use the Pet FBI database to post intakes, they should at least refer individuals to it.

More users = more happy reunions!

BIG NEWS! Pet FBI Lost and Found Pet Database Enhancement

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM PET FBI’s DIRECTOR:
Starting today, August 5, we are instituting a huge new time-saving feature for our database users. We are confident this enhancement will result in many more reunions. From now on, when you submit a lost or found pet report to the Pet FBI database, you will automatically receive information on any new potentially matching reports.

Here’s how it works: Suppose you submit a lost cat report. If a “found cat report” is submitted with a zip code within 100 miles of the zip you used in your report, you will be notified. New Report Alerts will be emailed daily, unless there is nothing new, and they will continue for 90 days from the day you submit your report or until you “unsubscribe”. Here’s a sample:

Found Dogs for 7/29/2015 within 100 miles of Zip Code 43002

Sample New Report Alert

The new reports will not be filtered by sex or color since people so often make mistakes about these characteristics. So you may get some extra information but that is better than missing that one critical report because someone thought your neutered male cat was a female. In any case, the New Report Alerts will be easy to skim and you will be saved the bother of having to do a manual search every day to see if there is anything new.

It will still be possible of course to do a manual search. If your report has not resulted in a reunion after 90 days, you can continue to look and even extend the search radius to 250 miles.

We would love to hear back from you if you have any suggestions about the New Report Alert or about anything else on Pet FBI.
Thanks to Glen, our ace volunteer database programmer who put a lot of work and thought into this!
With best wishes for a happy reunion,
Maresa, Pet FBI Director/Volunteer