How Animal Rescuers Seek Information
- There is no one, all-encompassing system in the United States for individuals to report that they have found a stray or injured animal which needs rescue, so no national-level statistics exist to understand how an individual who finds a lost or injured animal seeks help for the animal. We can deduce from the number of local and county organizations that exist in the U.S. which rescue and shelter animals how and from whom (organizations, web resources) most people find the help and information they need to care for the animal found.
1. HOW RESCUERS SEEK INFORMATION TO HELP
- Many, many organizations that can help someone who has found an injured or stray animal exist on the local level. There are 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, and virtually every county in the U.S. has an Animal Control Services department.
- People who find a lost or injured animal will often contact a local government organization such as Animal Control Services. An example of a busy county animal control facility is Washoe County, Nevada, which averaged 36,000 calls per year on statistics compiled between 2011-2016.
- If the lost animal has a license or microchip, the local city or county may maintain a website to help locate the animal's owner.
- Because cruelty to animals is against the law in every state, reporting to the local police department is a good option.
2. WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION WOULD THEY RELY ON TO HELP CARE FOR THESE ANIMALS?
- It is logical to assume that more people understand cats and dogs, since over 85 million, or 68% of U.S. households, owns a pet. But caring for an injured wild animal or requires more specialized knowledge, so a local organization focused on wildlife would be a better resource.
- Local rescue societies can provide information on the proper care for stray animals.
- The Humane Society has a recommended procedure to follow if you find an injured animal.
3. WHAT TYPE OF WEBSITES WOULD HELP?
- Animal Control Department websites maintained by a city or county government will have a lot of information about what to do and who to call with respect to lost, injured or stray animals.
- These sites typically have a FAQ or list of situations most frequently encountered and advise individuals on how to handle specific situations with stray or injured animals. They also list phone numbers of whom to contact or where to go, such as this page maintained by Orangeburg County in South Carolina.
- Rescue Societies and local shelters
- Petfinder is a national organization which maintains a list of animals waiting for adoptions, maintains a searchable, online database of over 11,000 shelters and rescue organizations.
4. WHAT OTHER RESOURCES AND INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE TO HELP?
- There are thousands of local animal welfare organizations across the United States.
- There are online sources to educate and teach about animal welfare and working with animals.
- Foster care is an important strategy that many animal welfare agencies are seeking to grow because according to this survey conducted by Maddie's Fund, most people don't understand how foster care helps save animals.
In the attempt to provide an analysis of how people who find an injured or stray animal seek information, we searched for surveys by animal shelters and other animal welfare organizations who may have gathered statistics about the number of people who contact them annually, or the number of visitors who come asking for help with a lost or stray that has been found. Surveys were directed at shelter employees, but there was nothing respecting engagement with the public. Because most animal control facilities are operated by local governments, we searched municipality websites for statistics regarding public engagement. One county in Nevada published statistics it had compiled over a five-year period, but there is no standardization about reporting because animal control may be a city or county-level agency. Given the number of cities and counties in the United States, compiling these statistics for animal control facilities would be a huge undertaking. But the number of animal control facilities, coupled with the myriad number of privately funded rescue and animal welfare organizations is an indication that these are the sources to which most individuals turn when they need information about getting help for stray or injured animals.