Lost Cats and Found Hounds: Community-based Solutions to Boost Your Return-to-Owner Metrics

Lost Cats and Found Hounds: Community-based Solutions to Boost Your Return-to-Owner Metrics
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-09-29
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Lost Cats and Found Hounds
Unit 2Transcript: Lost Cats and Found Hounds
Unit 3Workbook: Lost Cats and Found Hounds
Unit 4Recording: Lost Cats and Found Hounds

There seems to be a never-ending influx of pets that want some space in your shelter, but the space available is always limited. When resources are finite yet there’s a need to provide services and care for our beloved animals, what can animal control and welfare agencies do? They tap on the community and creative return-to-owner (RTO) strategies to ensure more pets are reclaimed and reunited with their families.

Nina Stively leads this webinar where she shares their local initiatives to lessen intake and increase RTO. Nina is the Director of Loudoun County Animal Services and is a Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator, a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator, and an Animal Control Officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Specifics of her discussion include:

  • Managing RTO data, the formula for the RTO rate, and the benefit of segmenting the RTO rate by species.
  • The benefits of RTOs and the most common barriers and misconceptions people tend to have and believe preventing RTO and reunification of animals with their families.
  • Proactive measures to take to effect to set adopters up for success so they do not end up being part of the population segments whose pets end up at the shelter intake that involve…
    • Using easily verifiable microchips and specifically avoiding those that start with 900.
    • Providing proper identification of the animals through photos, tags, and collars.
    • Selling dog licenses and registering microchips during adoption and RTOs.
  • How time is critical when trying to reunite a pet with its family, the time frame where RTO is most likely to occur, and the point in time when it is less likely.
  • The various channels to look into in an effort to reunite an animal with its family – the microchip database and licensing software through its available search features, posters and yard signs, and social media.
  • Tracing information available in the microchip registry and means to generate leads using this to link to the owner’s name and possible address.
  • The value of posters and yard signs and ways to mobilize the finders and other community members in these initiatives should you be short-handed on manpower.
  • Leveraging social media for RTO efforts, the specific animal segments who’d greatly benefit from it, using a branded template for lost pet posts, and the benefits of NextDoor for public agencies.
  • Guidelines and factors to consider when determining the animals to take into your shelter and how to involve the community in the process.
  • Useful tips to involve helpful cat finders in the efforts to find the cats’ families and educate them about cat behavior.
  • Addressing the issue with unreclaimed animals through GIS mapping.
    • The data required to come up with a heat map.
    • The analysis required to identify the drivers behind reclaiming and not reclaiming animals
    • The concept of the Social Vulnerability Index and using it to understand the barriers to reclaiming animals.
    • The data-driven responses based on the identified barriers to reclaiming within the communities.
    • The value in planning future programs centered on the identified barriers.
    • The importance of losing judgment at the intake desk to reduce unreclaimed strays that may potentially be actually owner surrenders.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • What to do if a significant amount of time has passed since a pet was lost.
  • Tips to temper judgment for owners of dogs who’s gotten loose.
  • Why people may be reporting strays when they’re actually owner surrenders.
  • Reasons behind unregistered microchips.
  • Strategies that had the highest impact for Loudoun County.



Or, click here to register and view other Animal Welfare webinars and recordings on the JCH website. 



Audience Comments

  • “Great ideas on the posters given to good samaritans.” — Amber
  • “Although I have experienced this firsthand, I was unaware that the fact that residents don’t know your agency exists, where it is or how to get in touch with you – is a major problem for all ACOs.” — Daniel
  • “I liked the information about the microchip information.” — Danika
  • “The additional websites and methods to look up microchips. Also, using Nextdoor as an organization to reach more people to help reunite pets.” — Jamie
  • “The webinar was excellent. Will pass tips to road patrol.” — Robert
  • “VERY Interesting! Lots to think about. Thank the presenter for sharing her time and knowledge.” — Rose





This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.





This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





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