Lost your pet? Front Street Animal Shelter’s new texting program can help you find them

Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento unveiled a new texting program that helps owners find their lost pets.
Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento unveiled a new texting program that helps owners find their lost pets.

Finding your lost dog just got a little easier, thanks to Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter.

The shelter rolled out a new texting program that gives pet owners resources to find their missing pet, including places to look and platforms to post on, according to Bobby Mann, spokesman for Front Street Animal Shelter.

Just text STRAY to 555888 and you’ll receive a video on how to find your lost dog or cat, a link to a page of all the animals in Front Street Animal Shelter and suggestions of places to search for your beloved furry friend, like Nextdoor, Finding Rover and lost and found Facebook pages, he said.

The messages from the shelter will be sent every three days for two months and can be sent in Spanish, according to a video promoting the program.

Formally called Lost2Found, the program is the brainchild Ryan Hinderman, a Front Street Animal Shelter employee who sought to increase the shelter’s “return-to-owner” rate, according to Mann.

Three years ago, Front Street Animal Shelter was only able to reunite one in 10 lost dogs with their owner, Mann said. But with the help of this new texting program, the shelter’s brought that rate up to 35 percent.

The funding for Lost2Found came from the Petco Foundation’s “Innovation Showdown”, where the shelter competed against 200 other agencies and nonprofit groups for a hefty sum of prize money to help implement their idea, according to previous reporting by The Sacramento Bee.

Front Street Animal Shelter was one of three winners and walked away with $250,000, most of which went to getting the word out about the new program, Mann said.

They mailed out stickers, magnets and wallet cards to 135,000 Sacramento residents, according to the promotional video. Additionally, the shelter took out ads in magazines, on the back of buses and on billboards throughout the city.

Since the campaign started, over 1,500 people have already used Lost2Found to find their lost pets, according to Mann.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” he said. “We take pride in trying to get pets back to their families.”

Returning pets to their owners is also good for another reason.

Each day a pet is in Front Street Animal Shelter’s care costs the city $30, Mann said. With nearly 11,000 pets in the shelter’s custody in a given year, those costs add up to at least $330,000.

“The faster we can get them home, the more tax dollars we’re saving,” Mann said.

Additionally, the actual costs of running the program are low — between $1,000 and $1,500 a year, according to the promotional video.

Several other cities, including Las Vegas, Tracy, Santa Barbara, Woodland and Philadelphia, have already reached out to the shelter, hoping to implement the texting program, the video said.

Agencies interested in bringing the program to their area can text STRAYINFO to 555888.

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Meghan Bobrowsky, from Scripps College, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and school funding. She grew up in nearby Davis.