Jul 5, 2022

From Lost to Found Thanks to DCHS


Dane County Humane Society's Lost and Found staff and volunteers work hard cross-checking various files and photos to reunite hundreds of lost pets with their families each year.

In the morning hours of April 21st, an adventurous Blue Heeler named Lola Banana escaped from the fraternity house where her parent was working after an electrician accidentally left the door open.

"A few days a month I take Banana with me to the house," says pet parent Diana. "The boys get a puppy fix, Banana gets to run and play, and I don't (usually) have to worry about where she is or what she's doing."

When Diana realized Lola was missing, she notified members of the fraternity, including the organization’s president. Residents of the house quickly sprang into action, organizing a neighborhood-wide search as other fraternities and sororities also rallied to join the cause.

Thanks to their efforts, Diana's learned that a good Samaritan had notified Animal Services of a dog running loose, and Lola Banana had been brought safely to Dane County Humane Society (DCHS).

Contracted as Dane County’s stray holding facility, DCHS takes in lost pets that are found by Animal Services, police officers, or members of the public who take time out of their day to help animals in need. On average, DCHS takes in and cares for over 120 lost pets each month, sometimes up to 150 or more in the warmer summer months. Unlike Lola Banana, many of these lost pets are not lucky enough to have a swarm of college students searching the neighborhood.

Fortunately, DCHS’s Lost and Found program exists to help all the rest.

Banana with her bestie and roommate Peanut.

The Lost and Found department consists of staff members and volunteers with the goal of reuniting lost pets with their loving families. Pet parents who lose a pet can file a lost report on DCHS’s website, call DCHS at (608) 838-0413 ext. 182, or stop in during public hours. Most lost pet reports are made online or by phone. In addition to filing a report, pet parents can search our Found Pet Database. Community members who have found a lost pet can also file a report on DCHS’s website or by phone. If possible, community members who have found a healthy lost pet are encouraged to hold onto the animal for a day or two because it’s likely the pet’s family lives nearby. If a found animal appears to be in need of immediate medical attention, contact DCHS right away during our normal public hours or go to UW Veterinary Care when DCHS is closed. Most times, people who have found a lost pet call DCHS because they are unable to hold the animal long-term.

An average day for a Lost and Found volunteer includes reviewing reports from pet parents for animals that have gone missing from their home, or for pets that have been found by a member of the community . Through cross-checking , staff and volunteers take all reports for missing pets and cross reference them against all reports for pets found by community members or lost pets that are currently being cared for in the shelter. They review several criteria, including physical descriptions of the animals and geographical location where they were found or where they were last seen. This process allows DCHS to identify many of the lost pets who come to the shelter, notify their families they’re safe at the shelter, and ultimately send them back home.

Additionally, because finders of lost companion animals can submit reports online of the pets they’ve found, DCHS can review details of those pets, cross-check against lost reports, and reunite even more pets in the community before they ever come into the shelter.

So far in 2022, DCHS has reunited over 230 lost pets who have come into our care with their loving families, and nearly 200 more were returned home without needing to come to the shelter. This is all thanks to lost and found reports filed by the pet parents or finders, and it’s a significant increase from this same time last year.

Lola Banana heads home with her family from DCHS.

The number of lost pets we’re able to reunite with their families will continue to grow as additional resources become available. Thanks to microchips and online databases such as Lost Cats of America, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, and Petco Love Lost, as well as social media resources like Facebook, neighborhood groups, or NextDoor, pet owners are able to share information quickly and effectively, and our communities can come together like never before. Everyone, including YOU, can be a part of Dane County Humane Society’s Lost and Found Program!

As for Lola Banana, she spent only a few short hours at DCHS and went home with her pet parent later that same day – but not before she won over the hearts of the DCHS staff and got fitted with a shiny new ID tag in case her adventurous spirit ever gets the better of her again!

"I don't know what I would have done, if something happened to her," says Diana. "She saved my life. (The fraternity and sorority members) helping me with Banana showed me there is still good women and men out there."

Tim Clark is a Shelter Resource Supervisor at DCHS.

Tips to Help Find Your Lost Pet

Found a Lost Pet? What to Do Next

Helping Our Community

Is Your Pet Chipped?

Microchips help reunite lost pets with their owners, and are especially helpful if the pet isn’t wearing a collar with ID tag. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchip is implanted between the shoulder blades of your cat or dog. Is your pet already microchipped? Be sure to keep the information linked to the chip up to date so you can be notified when your pet is found.

Learn More About Microchips

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