Texting Service For Missing Pets Launched In South Suburbs Ahead Of Holiday

Local animal shelters are preparing for one of the busiest intake weekends of the year

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A combination of Fourth of July celebrations and coronavirus pandemic financial troubles are expected to flood shelters with missing pets and strays this summer.

Dr. Priya Bhatt of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association is sending a warning to pet owners as fireworks continue to be set off in neighborhoods throughout the area.

“For these animals it feels like a bomb is going off around them,” Bhatt said.

This could lead to pets running off or sneaking out of yards.

Emily Klehm, C.E.O. of the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights says fostering and adoptions that soared during stay-at-home orders have started to wane.

According to Klehm, only 20 percent of missing pets are reunited with the original owner.

“It could mean a big tidal wave of pets into our shelters and it’s something we’re just trying to prepare for the best we can,” Klehm said.

She says the lack of one centralized intake facility Cook County makes it difficult for owners to find their pets if they’re dropped off by a resident. Owners have to call each shelter around the county to track down their pet.

To fix that, the South Suburban Humane Society has launched the south suburbs’ first texting service, linking owners to their missing friends.

Owners can start the process of finding their pets by text messaging the word ‘LOST1’ to 56525. After that, pet owners will get an automated message to fill out a missing pet report and a list of all the animals in the shelter.

Anyone who finds a wandering pet can also take a photo and upload the information to a public database.

“We want it to just be everywhere so it’s super easy for people to find,” Klehm said.

Klehm says the goal is to have multiple shelters post the database to their websites so the information is easily accessible to all of Chicagoland.

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