For many people, pets are not just fun to have around, but part of the family.
And so when they are lost — scared from thunder or fireworks, escaped out an unlocked fence gate or slipped out of a carrier — many pet owners are ready to do whatever they can to find their lost friend.
In the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, there are at least two organizations to contact in the course of that search.
One, of course is the local SPCA branch.
Located off of the Alberni Highway by Errington Road, the Parksville-Qualicum Beach and District Branch of the SPCA took care of 132 stray dogs in 2018, with 125 of those being reunited with their owners.
“Our job is to reunite the animal with their guardian and that’s what we do our very best to do,” said branch manager Nadine Durante. “So it is very important that they give us a call.”
Durante said dogs come to the branch through bylaw officers or contractors who do animal control. Also, some dogs, cats and other pets, are delivered by concerned community members.
She noted some pets are also surrendered by their owner, or come to the SPCA due to cruelty investigations.
When an animal comes to the SPCA, they house them, look for identification, feed them and otherwise make sure they are healthy and not injured.
Durante urged pet owners with a lost pet to contact the SPCA branch so that, if that pet is brought to the branch, they can get in contact.
She also urged all pet owners to get their pets ID’d. “If they are not already tattoo’d, get them microchipped. Every animal that leaves the BC SPCA now is microchipped, because tattoos fade… Identification is absolutely essential.”
For more info on the local SPCA branch, go to spca.bc.ca/locations/parksville-qualicum-beach/
Another important group in the area dedicated to re-uniting lost pets with their owners is the Arrowsmith Animal Resource Foundation (AARF).
Formed in 2014 by several like-minded animal lovers, the group’s main mission is to spread the word about lost and found pets, connecting pet owners directly with those who may have seen or found their pet.
“AARF does field reports from all over Vancouver Island, and will post any that are submitted, but their primary area of focus is Oceanside and Port Alberni,” said the foundation in a letter to the NEWS.
In the time of social media, people’s first instinct when they’ve lost a pet is often to post something online.
Doing this through AARF’s website (www.aarf.ca) by filling out a lost report (or if you’ve found an animal, a found report) allows AARF to spread the word to its many subscribers through Facebook and email, making a large swath of the animal-loving community aware. Even ATV, flying and hiking groups sometimes get involved in searches for pets.
Currently, 6,800 people are subscribed to the AARF Facebook page.
“In the first seven days of 2019 alone, AARF received 19 lost and found reports. Ten of these reports have been resolved with happy endings,” reads the letter.
“The remaining outstanding reports are regarding cats (and one chicken) which typically take a little longer (to find).”
One set of lost family pets AARF is posting about are Kodi and Tigger, two dogs owned by a family in Errington, and lost during a power outage on Dec. 24.
To check out other dogs and cats that people are still looking for, go to www.aarf.ca/lostalerts.
Both Durante and AARF mentioned that cats are harder to re-unite with their owners. AARF suggested that cats can be harder to catch than dogs.
Durante said that far fewer cats are redeemed from the SPCA branch, compared to dogs. In 2018, the branch had 42 incoming stray cats, and just six were re-united with owners.