WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – The Westville Police Department takes in about ten lost animals every month. Now, they have some new technology to help reunite pet owners with their owners more quickly.
“Certainly, we don’t want to spend our entire time with dogs because our primary concern is humans,” Captain Justin Varvel said.
Whenever someone drops off a lost pet, the department posts a photo to Facebook hoping to find the owner. Last month, a group of Facebook users pitched in and donated a scanner to help out.
“You may have noticed in the past month we have had fewer lost animals on our page. This is not because there have been fewer lost animals. It is because we received a Home Again pet microchip scanner,” they said in a Facebook post.
Finding out that your dog escaped is any pet owner’s worst nightmare. Luckily, if they’re microchipped, there’s a good chance they’ll be found.
“Instead of trying to say a description over the phone of: ‘what’s your dog look like?’ It’s a sure-fire way to be like: ‘this is your pet,'” Stateline Hillcrest Animal Hospital veterinary technician Alexis Julian said.
Microchips have become more popular over the years. They’re tiny implants that can hold information about an animal’s owner.
Julian said people never regret microchipping their dogs, but they always regret not microchipping them if they run away.
“It’s a one-time thing. I try to hammer in that you’re just paying it this one time and then your pet’s going to have that for the rest of its life,” she said.
Usually, if you come across a lost animal, you’d have to take it to a vet to scan the microchip. But, when many people find stray dogs and cats in Westville – they drop them off with police.
“We have a kennel. We feed them, take them out for walks. Sometimes people see us out here walking the dogs,” Varvel said.
Like many police departments, Westville is understaffed. They’re busy. And they deal with a lot of lost dogs.
“Especially with us, there’s only one on duty at a time so it can be a little challenging splitting your time,” he said.
So, they were thrilled to receive the donated scanner, along with some leashes, collars and dog toys.
“Just kind-of out of the blue, we really didn’t know what was going on but it was definitely a welcome tool on our part,” he said.
It used to take hours, sometimes days to find a dog’s owner. Now, with their new chip scanner, it takes a fraction of that time.
“We’ve had a few that haven’t had microchips, but the ones that have – it’s a matter of 15 minutes we can identify where they belong and get a hold of the owner or take them to their house if they’re here in town,” Varvel said.
He said there’s only a couple of full-time officers on staff now, so the scanner has saved them a lot of time. And they’re very grateful to those who pitched in.