Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friend’s search and rescue program started about a year and a half ago and during that time, the service has returned more than 40 dogs to their heartbroken owners. “Over a six-day period, we had calls about 11 missing dogs. We were able to return all 11 to their owners,” said Janice Murasko, ARF secretary.
Murasco and Robert Hewitt have been volunteers with ARF for more than two years. Hewitt is credited with starting the search and rescue service ARF offers. His goals for the program include educating pet owners. “Once we are able to return a lost pet to their owner, we try to educate them on how to prevent their pet from getting out again,” said Robert, “Unfortunately, we aren’t always successful.”
Repeat calls are depleting the resources ARF has available for finding and rescuing lost pets. With a team of four search and rescue volunteers — including Hewitt, Marty Krieger, Barb Reese and Dave Miller — covering Mountain Center, Garner Valley, Idyllwild and Pine Cove, the team can get taxed beyond their capabilities. “Once we have rescued a dog and returned it to its owner, it is important that the owner correct the situation that allowed the dog to run free. We have had repeat calls from a few owners that have not taken any steps to remedy the situation; so of course, the dog is going to get loose again. It’s dangerous to the pet, and it is not fair to the volunteers, especially when we have multiple search and rescues in progress,” said Hewitt.
It also is costly. “We can literally be driving around for hours trying to locate a lost pet. There have been times when the pet has been found or returned on its own and the owners neglected to call us to stop the search,” he said. “Of course, we’re happy that the pet is home, but it would help a lot if the owner just let us know. Gas is expensive and if other searches are in progress, we can assist where we are needed most.”
To assist the organization in defraying costs, ARF will ask for a $20 donation after an owner has requested help more than three times to defray fuel costs.
Hewitt also offered some tips that can keep an owner’s pet safe. In the event a pet is lost, these tips also make identifying the pet easier.
• Secure the pet’s yard fencing.
• Make sure family members and visitors are aware of a dog that might bolt through an opened door or gate.
• Make sure the pet has a collar with an identification and current contact information
• Micro-chip the pet for easy identification.*
• If the pet is micro-chipped be sure the information on the chip is current.
• Keep a current photo of the pet.
* ARF offers micro-chipping for $15. Call 951-659-1122 to schedule an appointment.
ARF works closely with Riverside County Department of Animal Services. “We receive many calls from the community alerting us that there is a stray dog in their neighborhood,” said Murasco. “Unless it is a dog that has been reported to us as lost, there really isn’t much we can do. Not only are we limited space-wise, but ARF is not licensed to take in strays. The best bet is to call animal control in Riverside.” That number is 951-358-7387.
If a pet goes missing, ARF recommends these steps.
• Call the ARF Search and Rescue number at 951-663-6642.
• Assemble friends and family to help ARF with the search.
• Post fliers near the “last seen” location and in heavy traffic areas. (Include a photo of the dog and your contact information.)
• Post on social media and local group sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
“The best way to protect your pet is to ensure that their area is secure. It is also important to keep your pet on a leash. Even the best-behaved dog can take off,” said Hewitt. “Our team loves what we do. There is no better feeling than returning a dog to their owner after they have been lost. It is why we do what we do.”
Category: Idyllwild News