For years Murrieta, California resident Linda Briggs ran into lost dogs as she was out walking her own pets, and she soon discovered that she had a knack for tracking down their owners. Eventually she decided to start keeping count of all the dogs she managed to reunite with their families.
In the last four years, Briggs has successfully located the owners of more than 270 dogs, averaging no less than one a week. She has developed a method that has given her an incredible success rate — she said earlier this week that she’s only failed to find the owners on 10 occasions.
“My primary concern is their safety,” she said. “I want to get them all off the streets, get them secure.”
As soon as Briggs finds a loose dog, she calls the animal shelter and tapes up neon signs stating “Dog Found” on every street corner in the neighborhood. She carries 40 of those signs in her bag with her at any given time.
Briggs tries to avoid taking any dogs to the animal shelter, where they run the risk of being euthanized if they remain there too long. Instead, she takes them home with her until the owner can be located, which can take several days.
Her next step is to scan the dog for a microchip, which can be done for free at the animal shelter or a veterinarian’s office. If it has a chip, and if that chip is up-to-date, it will provide information on the dog’s owner. Unfortunately, she said, that is not often the case.
“Of all the dogs I’ve found, only 11 have been chipped, and only four of those were current,” she said. “But if a dog is microchipped, the owner is only a phone call away.”
Briggs said that when she doesn’t have the dog a person is looking for, she is able to direct the caller toward other places that might help. Many pet stores, for example, have bulletin boards that display both lost and found pets.
She also directs callers to local newspapers, where she herself frequently advertises the dogs that she has found. In addition, Craigslist often proves helpful, along with websites such as Fido Finder and Pet Amber Alert.
“When I don’t have people’s dogs, I tell them everything I know,” she said.
Over the last several years, Briggs has developed a network of people in her neighborhood who contact her whenever they come across a stray dog. Lucy Rock, a neighbor of Briggs, is a part of that network.
“If I see dogs on the loose, I will get them and call Linda,” Rock said. “She’ll be over within five minutes with her leash.”
According to Briggs, however, 95 percent of the animals she helps, she finds herself.
“I’m just always at the right place at the right time for the right reason,” she said. “I want to do everything I can for the dog to get it back to its rightful owner.”
Out of all the dogs that she and others have found, there have only been 10 occasions on which Briggs was unable to reunite the animal with its owners. One of those dogs she ended up adopting herself.
“She is so amazingly dedicated,” Rock said. “She opens up her home and her life to these little lost dogs and tries to get them back where they belong.”
Melanie Fisher, who works at the front office of the VCA California Oaks Animal Hospital in Murrieta, said she talks with Briggs between two and five times a week.
“Anyone that calls with a lost or found dog, I give them her name,” she said, adding that the Animal Friends of the Valleys shelter does the same thing.
“She’s always there,” Fisher said. “She takes this as a serious profession. She’s like the guardian angel for lost animals. She gives and she expects nothing in return.
Briggs said that all the effort she puts in is worth it when she manages to return a dog to its family.
“I’m always so happy when I know I’ve reunited a dog and its owner,” she said.
~ Courtesy of U-T San Diego
Tags: dog rescuer, lost dogs, rescue success