Lauren Clarke will never forget the panic she felt recently when she realized her beloved pet had vanished.
Bianca, a 5-year-old Chihuahua-corgi mix, had weaseled through a small gap in the backyard fence and was nowhere to be found.
“Our world stopped,” Clarke said. “We all cried ourselves to sleep that one night she was gone.”
Fortunately for the Clarke family, who had recently moved into the Canyon Creek area, a neighbor across the street had found Bianca and was working to track down her owner. One of his first actions was to post a photo and basic information about the little dog on the Lost or Found Animals feature on the Richardson Animal Shelter’s website.
Clarke came across that information a day after Bianca’s disappearance as she looked up contact information for the Animal Shelter online. Her devastation immediately turned to joy.
“When I clicked on that link on the website, I was able to see her post and her picture,” Clarke said. “[There was] just an immediate rush of relief, and a weight was lifted. I knew that our family would be whole again.”
Reunions like these are among the reasons the Richardson Animal Shelter worked with the City’s IT department to create the Lost or Found Animals page, which launched in 2008. Since then, hundreds of people have posted information about lost and found pets on the site. Many of them have been reconnected with their furry friends because of it.
Dennis Wooten, Assistant Director of Health-Animal Services, said pet owners frequently contact the Animal Shelter to report they found their missing dog or cat through the Lost or Found Animals feature.
“Everybody that uses it is very appreciative that we have that tool available for them,” Wooten said.
The online feature allows people who have lost a pet to enter information on its breed, color, gender, age, description and owner contact information and upload a photo. The entry is displayed on a map that shows where the animal was last seen.
Residents who have found pets may upload similar information, which appears on a separate map that shows where the pet was found. Lost and found reports stay posted on the site for two weeks.
Clarke said seeing the photo of Bianca online immediately confirmed that her dog was safe, sound and nearby. She is grateful that the City made the Lost or Found website available and that her neighbor knew how to use it.
“Seeing that picture pop up is what made it real to me that we had found her,” she said.