A new system for dealing with stray dogs in Hellertown passed its first test earlier this month, when a lost Shih Tzu was successfully reunited with his owner within a day, police chief Robert Shupp told Borough Council Jan. 17.
Shupp said that after the small dog was found in the vicinity of East High Street he was brought to the borough garage, where he was fed, given water, and cared for overnight. The dog was kept warm during this time, he said.
After the dog was picked up, Shupp explained that local media outlets were notified and information was posted on the borough's website. Additionally, officers carrying flyers canvassed the neighborhood where the dog had been found.
Ultimately, police determined that the dog had escaped from a residence on Cherry Lane, and a reunion between pup and owner occurred shortly thereafter.
"It all worked out good," Shupp said of the system now in place, which was devised after the borough decided to end its relationship with a county animal shelter last year.
In this particular instance, the lost dog was licensed but lacked identification because he had just been neutered, Shupp said. When a plastic cone was placed around the dog's neck to prevent him from biting his wound, his collar was temporarily removed, which was why he wasn't wearing it when he was found, it was explained.
The owner of the lost dog paid a $50 fee when he was reclaimed--a fee that will help the department recover costs associated with temporarily feeding and caring for him, Shupp said.
"We're not looking to turn this into a money-making process...(but) there's some time and labor involved," he told council, adding that some municipalities charge the owners of stray dogs as much as $150 in order to reclaim their pets.
Council vice president John Bate asked Shupp if the department has considered purchasing a machine capable of scanning pet microchips, which could help identify ownership in some cases.
The chief responded by saying that the department plans to take dogs to local animal hospitals for microchip scanning if necessary, since there are several types of pet microchipping systems currently in use.
Bate and councilman Tom Rieger also suggested that some type of promotional flyer encouraging both microchipping and dog licensing be created for the purpose of educating the public.