Fresno Humane turning to community, technology to return lost pets

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With so many people out of work because of the pandemic, animal rescue shelters are seeing an increased number of homeless pets.

That has forced officials at Fresno Humane Animal Services to get creative.

They are now working to get people the support they need to keep their pets, instead of surrendering them.

Dogs tend to do better in a home.

That's why the Fresno Humane Animal Services joined other shelters from across the country, taking a new approach when it comes to sheltering strays.

"The disruption of COVID has really sort of given us the opportunity to look at the organization and figure out how we could improve things," says Teri Rockhold with the shelter.

The Humane Society is one of a dozen organizations chosen to lead a new pilot program that aims to keep pets and people together.

"It would seem it would be a good idea to grab animals off the street and bring it them to one spot so the people could come get them. Seems logical but it doesn't work," says Rockhold.

On any given day the Fresno Humane Animal Services will shelter around a hundred dogs.

Officials say finding the original owner can sometimes be extremely difficult.

So that's why the organization is asking for the community's help to reunite the pets they find with their owners.

"We first ask them - can you do a little leg work for us? Are you home, can you walk down the street? There are all sorts of questions that the staff has," says Rockhold.

The Humane Society is also tapping into the power of social media, partnering with a number of apps like Facebook, NextDoor, and Ring to help reunite pets with owners long before the animal gets taken to a shelter.

"The community really has a much higher return-to-owner rate than we do," says Rockford.

For owners who are being forced to get rid of their pet, the agency is offering to help.

That could mean talking to a landlord on the owner's behalf, building a more secure fence, or providing a dog kennel.

"Some of these owners need some assistance and we figure out what that is or some education but the bottom line is the animals need to stay in their home because it's their home," says Rockford.
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