We would like to thank Marilyn Knapp Litt, the Director of Lost Dogs of Texas for the information in this article. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Marilyn formed a group of volunteers which successfully reunited animals that had been displaced by the storm with their families.
If you could spend ten minutes researching a disconnected phone number and get a shelter animal back home – would you do it? Here are quick and easy instructions for shelter staff or volunteers to do free searches and find the lost families of shelter animals. This small investment in time will get more animals home, free up kennel space, save money and spread good karma!
Scenario 1: Animal’s contact information from either a tag or a microchip leads to a dead end.
1. First Sources to Check: 411 Info or Yellow Pages
As of 07/2014, these are sources for free phone numbers and reverse look – up. This will only take a few minutes. Search on a person’s name to find any contact information. If you do not have the name, search on the address (reverse lookup tab) or phone number to find out the person’s name and then search the name. A good rule of thumb is if you to click to see additional information, you will have to pay to see the information.
Google: Search on the name.
2. Second Sources for Names: ZabaSearch
This is a name search only. If the name search fails, you get a service charging a fee. Reverse phone is a fee service only.
3. Third Sources for Names: Social Networks, Etc. These are for the persistent searcher!
Pipl: Can search for name, email, user name and phone. This is a very interesting resource. At the bottom of the page, suggested Facebook profiles are pulled up.
Spokeo: Can search for name, phone, email, username, friends. If name search fails, you get a service charging a fee. You can use a username found on Pipl in the Spokeo search. People often reuse their username.
Facebook: Facebook is a good resource, but I would not use it until the last, unless you are searching an unusual name. If the first name search does not work, try adding a city. You can also search Facebook for a phone number! This can be very effective. A message goes to the “other” folder unless you are Facebook friends with the person. Send a message, but don’t count on it to go through. Sometimes you have the option to pay $1.00 to Facebook to make sure they receive it – but the person still has to look at the page to see they have a message, so this does not mean your message will be seen. Look to see if there is a place of employment listed on their profile and call their work. Look through their friends list for people with the same last name and try to call their relatives at work or send a message. You can also try to research their relatives for contact information. Never assume you have made contact until you are messaging or talking with the owner!
Veromi: Use the “People Search”. this is a name search, but like ZabaSearch, will show possible relatives. It may show congregations and organizations.
Dex Pages: Photocopy of a physical phone book – not in all areas.
Comprehensive list of people databases: For those who don’t want to give up!
- The very best resource you can use is Lexis. It is an expensive data service. Many law offices have access to make background reports.
- A reverse phone number or address search will give you the name of a person.
- A neighbor search on an address gives you the names of people who live nearby and who should be called as they many know where the family has moved.
- Do not stop with leaving one message. The person may not be home and might be reading Facebook. Or someone might not use Facebook, but might answer the phone. The trick is to leave many messages at different places.
- If you have to make an extra click to see the info you searched on, a screen will pop up to charge you. This is without exception. The pay service may or may not give you the information needed. Sometimes they will give you a refund and sometimes you will end up with monthly charges or even be scammed. You need to be vigilant if you pay, but of course you might get exactly what you were looking for. This is meant to be a resource to quickly try and break through a dead end. The many creative ways to find an animal’s lost family are beyond the scope of these instructions. For additional help finding someone contact Marilyn at email@example.com
If you think the owner is in the military, you can always “guess” at the address.
For years, the primary format for Army email looked like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, soldiers with common names would get an address like: email@example.com but perhaps your email might get redirected to the right person.
Now, the Army has created a new format that looks like this:
That’s what a soldier’s email address would look like. An Army civilian employee or contractor would have an email address like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
Both formats are used. You may guess at an address if you have a soldier’s name. The other branches have their own format.
If you know the base, you may be able to contact HR. They will not tell you how to contact someone in the military, but they may pass on a message about a missing dog if you are polite. You may also find support groups on Facebook for the base that could be helpful.
Scenario 2: You have determined the brand of microchip (via AAHA microchip lookup) but the microchip has not been enrolled to an owner.
When you call the microchip company, always be friendly. State that you are calling trying to find the family of an animal. If you are working or volunteering for a rescue or shelter, be sure to state that right away. You want to know every bit of information they have and ask for that. Double check all spelling and numbers.
If the microchip was not registered, ask if they can tell who implanted the chip and if not, who bought the chip. In the U.S., microchips are sold in bulk by number range to the shelter or vet who does the implanting. The microchip company can usually tell which organization received a chip for implant. When a chip is not registered to an individual, the organization may have that information. Try calling late at night when the staff will not be as busy and may have more time to help and talk.
Click the link below for more information on microchips (including international microchips) and tattoos. Clicking this link will open a pdf file: chip (2)