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Home Free: Reuniting Pets & Families

LifeLine Animal Project is making it easier to reunite lost pets with their families! Losing a pet is always scary and searching for them can quickly feel like an overwhelming situation. Pet owners work hard to reunite with their beloved pets by posting on social media, making flyers, and visiting local animal shelters. All of these steps are essential to bringing your pet back home, but LifeLine is hoping we can take at least one more obstacle out of the way.

Normally, when you’ve found your pet in a local animal shelter, there is a “reclaim fee”. Reclaim fees help cover the costs of vaccinations, deworming, and general care that every animal receives in our shelter. Our new Home Free Program will help more lost pets get back home by waiving these reclaim fees for those who have lost their pet for the first time.

When pet owners are faced with temporary hardships, caring for and keeping their pets can become a challenge. If you’ve lost your pet and they are brought to the shelter and it is your first time losing your pet, we will waive reclaim fees (and even certain citations) in order for you to quickly reclaim them at no cost. 

Looking at the Data

In 2022, our DeKalb County Animal Services (DCAS) shelter location took in 3,015 dogs from field services officers and members of the community. Of those, 60 dogs were reunited with their families through field services officers reaching back out into the community and 458 were returned to their homes because the owners were able to come find them in our shelter. Comparing this to the first 8 months of 2023, DCAS has already seen 2,459 total dog intakes and 456 were reunited with their families through our various programs, including Home Free.

Out of 895 community support cases at our Fulton County Animal Services location, 201 of those pets could return to their home in 2022. So far in 2023, our Fulton team has already had over 400 dogs return to their homes.

As you can see, of the thousands of pets that come through our shelters each year, hundreds have loving families that are searching for them. The more healthy, lost pets we can get back home, the more resources we can dedicate to helping other shelter pets in need.

Prevention and Other Resources

Each time a new pet enters the facility, animal shelters are faced with the stress of finding more space in the building to care for them. When missing pets are reunited with their families, it isn’t just a warm relief for pet and owner. It’s an important factor in addressing shelter overcrowding. 

There are easy steps that can help reunite you and your pet quicker if they ever go missing:

  • Having your pet microchipped is a quick, painless, and easy way to ensure that if your pet gets loose, you will be contacted if they come into a shelter. 
  • Inexpensive tags can be purchased from local pet stores. Including your phone number and address on a collar can be pertinent to your pet never having to see the animal shelter and simply be returned to you once found by animal service officers or another member of the community.

Our Friendly Finder program is another way to keep pets out of the shelter and in the community where they went missing. This program drastically increases their chance of making it home.

Outside resources, like our friends at Petco Love Lost, also host great platforms to help owners reunite with their pets on a nationwide scale. 

Happy Reunions

To qualify for Home Free, your pet must be in good standing with regard to their health and care. Free rabies vaccination and pet registration will be provided at the time of pick up, too! Our hope is to make getting your pet back home even easier.  This was the case for Mamita, who we later found out was actually Orio. She came into our care after going missing from home; but, because of Orio’s microchip, our team was able to contact her owner so the two could be reunited quickly. Her family quickly arrived to identify Orio and were ready to take her home. They paid $0 in reclaim fees, signed the reclaim affidavit, and were on their way!

Bart’s story is another testament to this work being done in our community! Bart was reunited with his family after going missing for 8 days. Following their reunion, his dad shared:

I want to thank everyone who helped us, I want to thank everyone who prayed for Bart. BART IS FINALLY HOME!!! GOD IS GREAT!!! And it feels so good to know there are amazing people out there in this world. This situation has taught me so much and I will forever be grateful and will pay it forward. GOD BLESS YOU ALL”

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