REGION — A forgotten unlocked gate or startling sound that causes a pet to run can also result in a lost pet.
Ken and Dawnelle Elizabeth Mischitelli know the anguish a lost pet brings. Their 4-year-old Chihuahua has been missing for three months.
“We’ve done everything,” Ken Mischitelli said. “We contacted all the vet clinics, made posters and mailed it everywhere.
“It’s very, very painful. He was very special. His personality is so vibrant, loving, affectionate. He’s super funny.”
Despite the time that has passed since their beloved dog bolted from their backyard the couple remains hopeful that someone might find Bert.
The Mischitellis held a missing pet event Dec. 15 to raise awareness about their missing dog and bring the community together to look for other missing pets whose images were printed on an event flyer.
Dan DeSousa, director of the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, shared his advice with The Coast News on how pet owners can help ensure their lost pet is found.
DeSousa said it’s imperative for pet owners to take a proactive approach and have their pets licensed and tagged with an identification microchip. Both link found animals with their owners through shared databases.
San Diego Department of Animal Services also offers pet owners Finding Rover dog facial recognition searches. “It’s solely used in getting dogs reunited with their owners,” DeSousa said.
Another tip DeSousa gave is to keep registered pet owner information updated.
When pets go missing there are numerous animal protection agencies and lost pet websites and Facebook groups to search through.
DeSousa said it is important to search immediately and look beyond your neighborhood for pets that might stray across city boundaries.
“There are multitude ways to search for a missing pet, hopefully they exhaust all of them, and hopefully do find their pet,” DeSousa said.
DeSousa advises pet owners to stop in shelters in person. He said an over-the-phone description of an unlicensed pet may not match what shelter staff thinks the animal looks like. Owners can also file a missing pet report with animal services if they drop in.
About 8,850 stray dogs come into the San Diego Department of Animal Services shelter in Carlsbad a year. Roughly half of them are successfully reunited with their owners.
The others are held for four to five days and then put up for adoption.
DeSousa said the best thing for people to do when they find a stray is to bring it to a shelter where it can be reunited with its owner. Found pet signs are also a good way of alerting neighbors a stray animal has been located.
The community missing pets event held on Bert’s birthday at Oceanside Harbor garnered a lot of support. About 70 people attended the gathering. A prayer vigil was led by Dawnelle Elizabeth Mischitelli, and birthday cake was served in honor of Bert.
Ken Mischitelli said he was pleased that community awareness was raised. “We miss him so much,” Mischitelli said. “We only want our dog back and want this to be a happy ending for all.”
The Mischitellis are offering a $5,000 reward for the return of their dog. They are hopeful that someone in the Tri-City area has taken him in and will return him. Anyone with information on Bert is asked to call the Mischitellis at (760) 521-0910 or (760) 586-5743.
This story has been corrected to state that the missing dog is four years old, not 14.