The most important step in finding a lost pet

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For months, the furriest part of her family had been missing from her life.

This weekend, my foster cat escaped – her first attempt at door darting. She leaped into the front yard and froze. We looked at each other and I prayed that she wouldn’t make a run for it as I leaped toward her. Fortunately, she seemed sufficiently overwhelmed by the great outdoors and allowed me to grab her and haul her back inside. As she ran back upstairs, I flopped down and thought about what could have happened. A great chase – but if a cat doesn’t want to be caught, it’s not going to be. Then posters, phone calls, humane traps, panic and fear …

The most proactive thing any family can do is to microchip their pet. I read several articles about cats and dogs being reunited with their families after being lost for years, and the common denominator in each story was that the pet was microchipped. A microchip is permanent proof that your pet belongs to you. All incoming animals at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter are required to be scanned for a microchip. If a pet is chipped, we immediately contact the company, which provides us with the family’s information that was registered to the chip. This is why it is so important to make sure you fill out, send in and update the paperwork that goes along with your pet’s chip. We have had way too many microchipped animals unable to be reunited with their families because phone numbers changed or the chip was never registered.

ADOPT THESE PETS: Dogs & cats available at SJ Regional Animal Shelter Fullscreen


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Mr. Johnson
Sophia Rose

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The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter’s adoption fees for all animals include microchips. Any pet owner is able to bring in any pet anytime during business hours to be microchipped as well. The cost is $40 and it includes lifetime registration for your chip.

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When pets get lost, there are many things a family can do to increase their chances of finding them and bringing them home. Some family members should resume searching for the pet, while another quickly contacts your local police department, animal control officer, local animal shelters and veterinarians. If your pet is chipped, the chip company will help you with this when you report them lost. There is a form that can be filled out on our website at any time for lost or found pets. Go to and select “services” and the “lost or found.” This form goes to our front office, who enter it into our shelter management computer program. Our new software automatically scans incoming pets with lost reports, comparing ZIP codes, animal description and dates.

While this is a great advancement that we hope will increase reclaims, the best thing you can do is to physically get to the shelter the look for your pet. Shelter staff will escort you to see all of the animals in the shelter. No one will recognize your own pet better than you. You also should make and print fliers to post in the area of your lost pet. You will need to use the eyes of your neighbors; the more aware they are, the more they will notice. For lost cats (and even dogs, if all else fails), consider using a humane trap. Cats will often return to their food and shelter source at night, and a trap is a safe way to catch them.


This pampered little cow comes and goes as she pleases.

Social media offers new ways to look for and find your lost pet. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter has a volunteer-run page called “Stray and Lost Pets at SJRAS/CCSPCA.” We do not guarantee that we can post all animals that arrive at the shelter as strays, but we do our best. Photos, identification numbers, locations and dates of stray animals are posted at least weekly. The page is a helping hand for lost pet owners. If you see a pet that could be your own, you must immediately contact the shelter by calling 856-691-1500. We guarantee that strays are held for the state’s required seven-day stray hold, but after that time is up they can be immediately transferred, adopted or (if there are behavioral or medical concerns we cannot address in the shelter) euthanized.

There also are several location-specific lost and found pages in our area. These pages are a great way to get the word out about a lost pet and to find people to help you. Many of the people who run these pages have lots of experience with finding and reuniting lost pets with their owners and can be a wealth of information. However, if you have questions about the legality of a situation (especially what to do with a pet you found), you should contact your local animal control officer or the shelter. There are many laws that govern lost and found pets, and you don’t want your good deed to wind up getting you on the wrong side of the law.

You can also decrease the chance of losing a pet by making sure fences are properly secured, using tie-outs, and (like I learned) being aware of pets by the door and opening and closing doors quickly. Teach children about the importance of closing gates and doors, and make sure your pet is always on a leash when not in a securely fenced yard. While seeing the reunion between a lost pet and an owner is a heartwarming part of shelter work, we would prefer for lost pets to stay home where they belong.


Tigger is quickly becoming a pro with his prosthetics.

Shelter needs

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter seeks donations of fish-based dog food (for dogs with skin conditions), dry kitten chow (no dyes, please), canned pate kitten food, Snuggle Safe microwaveable discs, rubbing alcohol, spray cleansers, colored wipe-off markers, large dog toys and chews, and cat toys. It also needs gift cards to hardware, grocery and pet stores.

Upcoming events

  • Luck of the Paw at Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill, 6 to 9 p.m. March 31: Join us to show your support for our furry friends at Sidelines, 2 Sharp St., Millville. Food, fun, raffle baskets, door prizes, a buffet and $1 domestic beers. Tickets are only $25 per person, and all proceeds go directly to support the shelter. Tickets are available at the shelter, from shelter volunteers, at Sidelines or on our website. Follow our Facebook event to see pictures of the gift baskets, raffle items and prizes
  • Paws for Art, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 8: Bring your four-legged friend for a day full of dog-friendly activities, enjoy the arts and shop from lots of local vendors at Wheaton Arts Cultural Center, 1501 Glasstown Road, Millville. Events will include the WheatonBarks Dog Show, animal rescue groups, obedience demonstration, search and rescue demonstrations, agility course, animal-themed glassmaking demonstrations, and pet-themed children’s hands-on activities.


Curious emperor penguins have no idea they're internet famous for their selfie.

Pets of the Week

What’s not to love about Benny? This chunky hunk is such a great guy. He’s great in a car but doesn’t seem to know what personal space is (which is obviously a great quality to have). This lover of ice cream would make the perfect family dog. He sits so nicely for a treat, and just look at those teefies! Benny is housebroken, too.

Joaney is a gorgeous 5-year-old girl who has an endless amount of love to give. Joaney is playful and squishy and loves everyone she meets. She even knows a few tricks, too.

Sophia Rose is a sweet 8-year-old Chihuahua looking for a home to provide her some TLC. Sophia's ideal home will understand just how rewarding it can be to care for a special-needs dog. Sophia suffers from skin allergies and luxating patella in her hind leg, which causes her walk to be a little different.

Bookie is a pretty, silver 6-year-old pit bull terrier. She is a happy, friendly girl with years of love to give.

Jay is a happy-go-lucky, 10-month-old pit mix pup. She will need some training in basic doggy manners, but he is young and smart and eager to learn.

Todd is a handsome, young guy with a gorgeous shiny black coat. He has piercing brown eyes that will look deep into your soul. He is completely housebroken and crate-trained. He knows “sit” perfectly and “shake.” Todd is a super-fast learner and picks up commands quickly.

Cammy is a very cute, comical 9-year-old poodle. She is slow to warm up to new situations, but fun and friendly once she gets to know you.

Mr. Johnson is 3 years old. This cat is fixed and ready for a family to notice him.

Gemma is a sweet cat. She is an attention seeker who is in need of a family.

Arista is about 2 years old. She would love to keep you company. Come in and meet this cat.

Tuffy loves to sleep in paper bags, but this cat will surely come out for some love.

Unlike many siblings, DJ and Sugar adore each other. These cats spend time grooming each other and will curl up together to sleep. Their foster mom has decided to sponsor one of their adoption fess. Buy one, get one. What a deal!

The Pets of the Week are just a few of the animals awaiting adoption at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.

For information, visit c, send email to, call (856) 691-1500 or visit the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter at 1244 N. Delsea Drive, Vineland.

Maria DeFillipo is the Junior Volunteer coordinator and foster care coordinator for the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.


This dog’s soul was broken in a puppy mill where she was used as a breeder dog. Rescuers are slowly but surely building her back up, one day at a time.

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