Thunderstorms aren’t just scary for kids. Animals get frightened, too.
Recent storms have contributed to an influx of lost pets at the Wichita Animal Shelter, 3303 N. Hillside, said Wichita police Lt. Steven Kenney.
During the first three months of the year, the shelter took in 1,584 dogs, 972 cats and 68 other animals, including several chickens, goats, birds, an alligator, an owl and at least three pot-bellied pigs.
Some of those animals are injured, abandoned or strays. But others ended up lost because they were startled by severe weather, like the high winds, hail and heavy rain that rolled through Wichita this month.
“A lot of animals got spooked because of the storm, broke through fences and upon doing so lost their collar” making it difficult to find their owners because they have no identification tags, Kenney said last week.
Many didn’t have microchips – small implants that provide permanent ID for pets – either, which compounded the problem.
“There are two things you can do to help reunite yourself with your own animal. Number one is to have a collar on your animal with a good, solid phone number where we can reach you at,” Kenney said.
The second is a microchip.
“If you microchip your animal and have a collar on him, (success in) returning your animal to you is probably over 80 percent,” he said. “If it’s not microchipped and doesn’t have a collar, it drops to 20 percent.”
By law, the shelter – which is on the Murfin Animal Care Campus next to the Kansas Humane Society just south of K-96 – has to house animals for three days. Kenney said the Wichita Animal Shelter generally keeps lost pets for four, but it extended the period up to 10 days because of storms in early April.
Animals whose owners could not be identified that passed a Kansas Humane Society evaluation were put up for adoption or sent to area animal rescue organizations.
Some injured animals and those deemed unsuitable for adoption may have been euthanized. A few lost in early April are still at the shelter.
In addition to the influx of animals, Kenney said another problem shelter workers encounter after storms is a reluctance to bring in found pets. He said the belief that the shelter will immediately euthanize animals prompts some people to foster them in their homes and wait for their owners to show up.
“Well the problem with that is, how is that owner supposed to know that this dog, this cat is at a specific residence?” Kenney said.
Some people do post ads for found pets on Craigslist, Facebook and other websites. But the best chance of reuniting a lost animal with its owner, Kenney says, is to take it to the Wichita Animal Shelter.
“That way the animal can be seen. It’s (posted) on our Facebook page, it’s on our website, citizens can walk through” the facility, he said.
“We are going to keep the animals as long as we can to give them the best opportunity to get them back to their original owners. If that just fails, we work with all the area rescues … and the humane society to get that animal adopted out.”
For more information about the shelter and its services or Wichita animal control, call 316-350-3360.