SAN ANTONIO – During the unprecedented winter weather last week, many animals were lost or left out in the cold, and the small team at Animal Care Services was able to save hundreds of animals. But now lies the task of reuniting many of those pets with their owners.
Joe Hernandez waited in line outside ACS on Monday afternoon, hoping to reunite with his two dogs, which he lost during the storm.
“They bolted out. They were loving the snow, and they got away. I put some food out and thought, ‘Maybe they’ll come back.’ But sure enough, (ACS) picked them up right away. I was kind of glad they did because I was afraid for them to freeze,” Hernandez said.
He said because both dogs were microchipped and the system had his updated information, ACS was able to identify the dogs when he called.
“The biggest thing about a microchip is knowing the microchip number. You can go to your vet, Petco, Petsmart to get your pet scanned, and we can give you the microchip number,” said Krystine Allan, interim live release manager for ACS.
“The next thing is keeping that microchip up to date. If we don’t have a good phone number or contact information, we can’t reach out to you,” Allan said.
More than 200 animals were brought into the ACS shelter from the cold last week, and that doesn’t even include neighbors and other residents who picked up animals and reunited with animals out in the field.
Allan said a skeleton crew braved frigid temperatures and bad road conditions to respond to nonstop calls for abandoned and lost animals.
“Everybody was taken care of and fed and had a warm bed at night,” Allan said.
However, she said if you did lose your pet, time is of the essence. With so many animals overwhelming the shelter, they have to adopt and foster quickly.
Still, there is a stray-hold time period for animals that have microchips or identification.
“It’s five days until they can leave our shelter. We can process an adoption, get the paperwork out of the way, but they cannot leave until technically the fourth day after 2 p.m.,” Allan said.
Allan assured the public those five days did not start last week when the shelter was closed to the public.
If you have lost your pet, Allan says you should do the following:
- Go to Animal Care Services or call them at (210) 207-4738
- Continue looking at neighborhood sites like Nextdoor and checking with your neighbors to see if they’ve spotted your pet
- If you don’t have internet access to check those sites, find free Wifi at a location like a library.
As for Hernandez, he’s been assured his dogs are waiting patiently for him.
“They just told me to bring my ID, that all my info should be within the chip. They’re going to be excited to see me,” he said.
Hernandez hopes other worried pet owners are soon able to reunite with their fur babies too.