How to lose a dog and make sure no one calls you when she's found

170829-0002.jpg

I found this collar today. Clearly it belongs to someone who takes care of their dog, as evidenced by the fact that the collar came off in a good place to walk them off-leash and the couple of years worth of rabies tags as well as a numbered tag for a company called 24PetWatch.com.

Three tags, and yet, no simple ID tag. No name, no number. So, the idea is that if the dog is lost, instead of calling you, whoever finds the dog is supposed to call the toll-free number on the tag (who gives a damn about toll-free numbers any more, anyway?) and let a large company get on the case for you.

TERRIBLE IDEA. Terrible enough to merit all caps, bold and italics. It's absolutely idiotic. Here's why:

I figured I'd call the number I expected to find on one of those three tags and let someone know where to find their dog's lost collar, but, as there was no other number but the one for that company, I called that. In other words, I was doing exactly what I'd be doing if I'd found the whole dog.

The first thing I had to listen to was a recorded advertisement. How nice of them to make people trying to rescue a dog listen to that. Next came the menu options to select from. Another opportunity to work the phone while dealing with a tugging, nervous dog. The only menu option that applied was for lost animals, so the hold with blaring, staticky music that followed is what one can expect when phoning about that. Once in a while a recorded voice came on with the usual Your call is very important to us, all representatives are busy helping other customers line we all have memorized from calling the cable company. Except... the people calling to report the lost dogs on this company's damn tags are not their customers. I snapped the screenshot about a minute before the call dropped. Ten minutes of nothing, instead of what should have been a call to someone's home. Ridiculous.

Using this company for lost pet retrieval has got to be the worst idea in the history of dogs. Okay, maybe not the worst. Sending Laika up in the one-way Sputnik shot might have been worse. But for finding your lost dog you'd be better off chartering a skywriting team and posting your phone number overhead in smoke than using this scam. If your dog got lost, wouldn't you want someone to call you without relying on some corporation to middleman the operation? Concierge service to deal with your lost dog? Wouldn't you be gripping your phone like a maniac waiting for it to ring while calling the shelters and scanning the Craigslist postings? And wouldn't you want the amount of time that's lapsed — especially in the few minutes right after a dog is lost, when she might still be nearby — to be as short as possible? These seem like no-brainers, but evidently they're not. At least one person thinks this is the way to go.

170829-0001.jpg

When a person finds a lost dog, they already have a lot on their hands. Lots of wandering dogs are hard to catch in the first place. I've picked up about a dozen in the last year or two, and almost all of them presented one kind of problem or another. Once snagged, the dog might be stressed or hurt or frightened or difficult to manage. The person might be handling their own dog or carrying things or dealing with toddlers. The last thing they need is to have to wrangle a strange dog and their phone while they try to wait out a hold for least ten minutes. When you find a dog you generally need your hands free. And, calls drop all the time. Mine did. So the rescuer is expected to just keep calling back?

If I had found the entire dog and not just the collar, sure, I would have called back and gone through their process again, but not for hours. There will always be some limit to time or patience. Once it becomes too difficult, chances are that lots of people will just call Animal Control or drop the dog off at the shelter themselves. If the dog hasn't gotten away during all screwing around with the phone, as lots of lost dogs will try to do.

This was something of an eye-opener. Why someone would not have a regular ID tag with their dog's name and number on it is mystifying. But what's not mystifying in the least is that this company does not provide the 24/7 service they tout. I wouldn't trust them to track a tree. Trusting them with the life of one's dog is a TERRIBLE IDEA.

The collar remains where it was found. It's a pity, because the owner will probably never get a chance to figure out how misplaced their trust in that company is.

Just get a tag. Chips are great, and every dog should have them (I hope the dog who lost his collar has one), but tags are still the first, and fastest, line of defense.

*          *          *

By the way, to tweet posts from here this page, click on the Share button at the bottom of this post . A menu comes up with Twitter at the top. Give it a shot.