Episode 29 – Leslie Poole, Pet FBI

29 Leslie Poole_FB

29 Leslie Poole_FB

In this episode, we talk with Leslie Poole, the Executive Director for Pet FBI, a non-profit organization that reunites lost pets with their owners. Pet FBI was one of the first web-based lost and found pet databases. Originally serving its home state of Ohio, Pet FBI currently serves the entire United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Leslie joined Pet FBI in May of 2017 when Maresa Fanelli, Pet FBI’s founder, and executive director retired. Prior to joining Pet FBI, Leslie worked for several nonprofits providing leadership in operations, fund development, communications, and marketing. Being executive director of Pet FBI has given her an opportunity to combine her nonprofit leadership experience with a lifelong passion for animals. Leslie tells us how she got started in animal rescue, what she recommends if you lose a pet, how to know if an animal is lost or is a stray, how you can get involved and so much more! For more information you can visit Pet FBI here, http://petfbi.org/

Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with Animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is proudly sponsored by Joubert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue Relate Transport. Now on with our show in today’s up. So we’re speaking with Leslie Pool Leslie is the executive director of Pet FBI, a nonprofit organization that reunites lost pets with their owners. Founded in 1998 Pet FBI was one of the first Web based lost and found pet databases. Originally serving its home state of Ohio, Pet FBI currently serves the entire United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Leslie join pet FBI in May of 2017 when Marissa Finelli, Pet, FBI’s founder and executive director, retired prior to joining Pet FBI, Leslie work for several nonprofits, providing leadership and operations, fund development, communications and marketing. Being executive director of Pet FBI is given her an opportunity to combine her nonprofit leadership experience with lifelong passion for animals. Hey, Leslie, welcome to the program Thanks, Chris. Thanks for inviting me. So, startup. They told us a little bit about you. How did you get involved in animal rescue? Kind of. What’s your background? Well, I think like most of us in this field, it was the way I was raised. I was raised in a rural area and my parents loved animals. And so I was, you know, always around animals was taught Teoh love and respect all creatures. So I was the kid who was always bringing the home the the kiddies and the toads and the salamanders. And, you know, all the things that my my mother was very squeamish should help That bless her heart allowed me to bring into the house. And so I was kind of that, you know, the kid in the neighborhood that could approach all of the animals. And I remember clearly I was probably nine or 10 years old and the neighbors knocking on the door, saying, You know, there’s a straight dog out here. Can you son Leslie out toe, help us lure the straight talk in. And you know, in retrospect, I do have to question my parents judgment for allowing me to do that. But, you know, I did. And I wasn’t smart enough to know that there was any risk involved. Um, so I was kind of kind of that kid. And my my career, though, has not been in the animal field. My career has been in nonprofit with, um, you know, fundraising and and marketing. But because I was working in agencies, social service agencies, I’ve been interested to see how those agencies have begun to incorporate companion animals into how they care for clients. So I think that’s something that ah lot of us have known intuitively, that having an animal is good for your well being, your mental health and your physical well being. And so it’s been fun to kind of see social service agencies incorporate that, whether that’s with clients with disabilities or, um, you know, seniors in assisted living facilities, how they incorporate animals into that. So when I had the opportunity to become involved with pet FBI, it seemed like just a great fit and a great opportunity. Teoh join my nonprofit experience with my passion for animals. Very cool. So tell us a little bit about pet FBI and what you guys do so. Pet FBI has actually started 20 years ago by Marissa Finelli, and Marissa led the organization for the past 20 years until she was ready to retire and was looking for somebody to succeed her, which is where I stepped in. Pet FBI is a lost and found service, reuniting lost pets with their owners. We have a website that has a searchable database, and anybody can go in and post a found pet report or a lost pet report. You can go in and search if you have lost your pad to see if somebody has already posted it. We have. Resource is we have. It’s volunteer run. So we have lots of volunteers who are scanning through, helping make reunions and make matches to get pets back home to their owners. Very cool. Now I know because I’ve had this happen. One of our cats got out and course we ran outside. We’re looking forward and couldn’t find her. And so we just typed in Los Cat Wisconsin, and there was a whole bunch of different sites that came up. What? Tell me how this differs from the other sites that are out there, right, so There are a lot of resource is if you’ve if you’ve lost or found a pet pet, FBI is we are a non profit. We are volunteer, run eso. Everything that we offer to people is free. So that’s kind of the first difference if you are. If you’re searching, there are a lot of fee based services out there. We feel that not that there’s anything wrong with those, but we feel that we do everything that the fee based services dio Justus. Well, only you know, we don’t charge anybody. We have lots of resource is on our site. One of the things that I think sets us apart. You know, in addition to the resource is that we have and this is a national database. I should say so. All of the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands we serve so one of the things that I feel like really sets us apart is we have an email blast which a lot of places do. But it goes out to volunteers who have signed up who are really passionate about helping people. So when they get that email alert of a lost or found pet there immediately trying to make connections, looking on Facebook or Craigslist or next door on other sites to tryto help make those connections. So I feel like that’s kind of that personal touch, But again, we’re you know, we’re completely free for anybody who needs that. Yeah, it’s interesting because I guess I didn’t even realize that there’s for profit companies out there. I mean, what are they? Isn’t worth it. I mean, what do they do? I guess that’s very different than what you’re doing. I mean, I know as you said, people are blasting on emails, some of them that they’re blasting it, toe local shelters. But I’m not sure if that helps or not. Yeah, and that’s one thing that we caution people because, you know, you are when you lost a pet and I’ve been in the same situation and I am, you know, panic. So I’m gonna I’ve got my credit card out, and I’m ready to pretty much do anything to get that my pat back. But we do caution people about that, especially the shelter email. So there are services who will say, you know, you put in your lost pet information, they will immediately blast out the email to all of the shelters in the area, so it doesn’t hurt to do that. But our caution is people may feel like, Oh, that bases covered, right. So I’ve sent an email to the shelter. I don’t need to worry about that. That’s all taken care of. And that is not the case at all, because shelter workers are not looking necessarily at those e mails. They’re doing so Maney intakes. You know, as as a rule there, they’re working hard. They may be understaffed. It is too hard to compare emails to every intake that comes in. So you do have to go in person to the shelter, and we recommend that you go every day to look at the intakes to see if your pet was there. First of all, it’s hard to compare a picture to any animal, right? Because, you know, it’s just not. They may look different in person, so we recommend that you go every state, not every state has a straight hold law to begin with. So I think a little over half of the states have laws about how long you have to hold a stray in the shelter. Here in Ohio, it’s It’s only three days. It’s usually 3 to 5 days. So after three days of being in the shelter, that pet is now either on the adoption floor or not. Um, you know, it’s either going to a rescue or depending on what the shelter policies are. It may be euthanized, so you really need to go in person every day to the shelter if you if you’ve lost your pet and don’t rely on that email. So help me talk me through this. I mean, what is the best practice? If if my dog, you know, runs away gets lost, what would you recommend? Where do I start while we recommend that, you know, you start close, close to home, you know you can do your go on Petty. I filed the Lost Pet Report. Search the database to see if anybody has already located your pet. You could go for. So let me say there’s not like one answer. There’s like a multiple multipronged approach that you have to take. Um, next door dot com is another resource you can use. Social media is great when you file a report on pet. FBI. You’re going to get an email confirmation back with a share a bowl link so you can get that out on your Facebook page, Um, of their Facebook pages. Get your network to share that. So use social media to your advantage. You walk the neighborhood, print out a flyer, we have a flyer template on the pet FBI size that you can go on and you can add the picture in the information and it will print the flyer out for you. So go get flyers made. Go door to door, start putting up signs. You know, sign still work those. Put the flyer on a big piece of neon posterboard and mount the signs around your neighborhood. Um, to get the word out that way, go to the shelter. If you have a microchip which I would recommend that everybody get their pet microchipped. Make sure that you call the microchip company, um, and let them know that your pad is missing. So we have a whole checklist on our website of step by step all of the things to do if you have lost your dog or you’ve lost your cat and they’re a little bit different because cat behavior lost cat behavior is different from lost dog behavior. So you have to employ some different techniques If you have lost a kitty, Um, and we kind of outline up down on the website. Two cats tend to hide, you know, they tended, like, hunker down and hide somewhere close to home where his dogs can run. So you gotta look at a different technique for each. Yeah. No, that makes sense. So, you know, one of the questions I’ve always wondered about is how toe how to know if the animal is belongs to somebody, right? So if you see an animal wandering around, I mean, how do you know if it’s truly a stray or if it’s somebody’s lost pat? Yeah, well, that’s a great question, because you don’t necessarily know. Um, what happens is, you know, people. I think people assume that if the dog is a little skittish or it, you know, looks dirty or whatever, it must just be a stray, and it doesn’t belong to somebody. And that is not necessarily the case. Animals who have been displaced kind of get into that survival mode. And even if they are somebody’s pet. They might appear skittish, and they might not come to you when you coax them. So you can’t rely on that, Aziz Ah, indicator of whether it’s somebody’s pet or not. So the really the best thing to Dio is if you can get the animal safely, is to scan for a microchip on and then try to find the owner. Because many times that pet belongs to somebody. It may look dirty, and it may have been outside for a while, or it may have only been out for a day, but it’s gone. Depending on the temperament of the animal, they can get into that survival mode pretty quickly and act like they’re astray when they’re not right. No, that totally makes sense. So now one of the things you mentioned is obviously listing a report on pet FBI. So now does that connect automatically to the other systems out there to the shelters. I mean, how does how does all this work? Yeah, that well, again, that is another great question. It right now, you know, in a perfect world, there would be one repository of all of this information where you could log in. You put your lost pet report in and everybody would have that information that’s currently not the way it’s working right now. So all of us who are working and the lost and found pet field recognize that that’s a problem and that we should all be communicating and we’re making steps to to go in that direction. But at this point, that’s not the case. So what is problematic is you could post your lost pet in one database and somebody could post the found they could find your pet and posted in another database. And those databases are not talking to each other. So that’s something that we as, you know, an industry. We have to address that and fix that problem, and we are working on it. But it’s not. That’s not the case right now. My recommendation is you do post in multiple databases. I know that’s what I would dio. You know, I recommend hours because I think our since the best, um, you can’t be positive that the person who finds your pet is going to use our database a swell ah, so you do kind of have to look around and That’s again. When I talk about our volunteer network are special agents. They are kind of cross checking databases. But again, you can’t rely on that. So I recommend everybody you know, You you cross check other databases as well, If you’re searching. Yeah, it sounds like you said you’ve got to be your own advocate, right? You need to be posting flyers. You need to be listening in multiple places. You need to be contacting the police contacting shelters. You know, if the pet was making contact in the microchip company, it’s almost like you do with a lot of other things. You must have a checklist of phone numbers and things you need to do if if your pet gets away. Yeah. And we recommend, like, goto our database. There is a checklist for lost dogs, a checklist for lost cats. You know, download the information, go step by step, because if you do have to be proactive. And then again, that’s our concern with some of the sites that say, Hey, just fill this out, pay this fee and we got it. We got it covered for you. Well, that’s not gonna work. You really have to get out there and search. Um, you know, with lost cats in particular, you gotta move pretty quickly. Teoh to try toe because they’re almost guarantee There somewhere close, kind of hunker down. So you’ve got to move quickly to try to lure them back by putting some food outside, you know, doing doing the steps that we outline. Um, yeah, you mentioned the microchip. One other thing I want to highlight is on Lee. We figure only about six out of every ton microchips, air registered. So make sure that you register that microchip when you get a pat. People, I think people assume, and a lot of shelters will do it for you if you adopt a shelter dog and they put the microchip and some of them will register it for you. But that’s not always the case. And if the vet is putting the microchip in there, probably not doing the registration for you. So always, always, always check that and make sure that that registration is up to date with your current information. And now it’s a really good point. Now, you mentioned volunteers. I mean, how so? There’s people that volunteer with you guys to help find these animals. Yeah, so we call him, um, column are special agents. We double down on the FBI reference way, call him bad FBI special agents. They sign up for email alerts and they follow our Facebook page. And, um, what they dio is, they’re they’re amazing. I mean, I really I’m in all because they will get an email alert or they’ll see something posted on social media, and they’re immediately sharing it with their network with other lost and found pages. Um, you know, they’re connecting. The dots are looking on Craigslist there, you know, trying to see if this pet has popped up on next door dot com and making matches and then communicating back to, you know, the owner of the pat saying, Hey, I think this might be, um does this look like your dog? I think I might have found your pad over here. The other thing that we do when you sign up on pet FBI’s, you do get potential match alerts, and once you post a report, then we will send you everything in the area that’s come through that’s been posted. That might be a match for your pet. But yeah, hard Volunteer network is is pretty amazing. So now if people want to be a volunteer, what’s what’s the process? It’s a red on her website. You can go online. I wonder how to help, and you will see you can sign up to be a special agent. It’s pretty simple use. Put in your email address and you’ll and your location. Um, and you’ll get them. You can set how many miles out you want to get it. Get those alerts. Offer where you live. So if you live in, you know wherever. Columbus, Ohio, you can set your alerts for to a 20 mile radius and you’ll get all of the lost and found pets in that area. Very cool. Yeah, it sounds like a great way for people to get involved, like you said in their local community, because what is there any statistics on the likelihood that your animals gonna go missing? I think, Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it’s like, What is it? One and 31 I have statistics. Statistics are not my forte Crest, so nobody do. But it’s something I have. Yeah, it’s like 30% of all pets will go missing in their in their lifetime. So that’s, you know, that’s pretty high frequency of occurrence. It is it ISS. And I think you, you know, you always have to be prepared. You know, one of things we didn’t talk about are the obvious thing is having an i d tag for your animal. Um, you know, the microchip is awesome, but you do have to get somebody has to physically take your pet into either event or a shelter to have it scan for the microchip. But if they’re wearing their collar with your i d tag on with the phone number, you know that’s the best way. That’s the easiest thing. You know, we know that don’t slip their collars a lot, and cats just don’t want to be seen with a collar on. So that’s always problematic. But But the I D tag is a great, great way to protect your pets. Okay, so what’s next for pet FBI? I mean, it sounds like there’s a lot of stuff, a lot of potential, but what’s next for you guys? Well, we will just upgraded our database, so we’re pretty excited about that. Um you know, we’re tryingto we’re always making improvements to try to make it more user friendly. We are working with our colleagues in this industry to try to figure out a way Teoh share data so we can, you know, just so we can get more. Pat told me. And that’s our mission, You know, we’re nonprofit. We’re not in it to make money. We just want to reunite pets and their owners. Um, and, you know, we’re trying to cook up some celebratory events for this year to senses are 20th. We’re pretty proud of that. Wow. 20 years is a long time. Yeah. Yeah. And then amazing, I think, was one of the very first Web based resource is to reunite lost pets and their owners. That’s great. When the fact that you guys were still around this is quite amazing. Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got ah, wonderful network of people. Um, so it’s and Marissa did a fantastic job founding the organization, and so it was really an honor to kind of step into her shoes and continue on with the with the organization. Yeah, well, this is all really exciting, Leslie. I know we’ve covered quite a bit of stuff and how people can get involved. Is there anything else you want toe mentioned before we wrap things up? I would just encourage people Teoh, you know, go onto our website FBI dot org’s, you know, read through. The resource is there are a lot of things that you can dio before you ever have an emergency, right? So being prepared in advance, like we talked about with the I D tags and the microchips and, um, having a current photo of your pat having a current photo of you with your pets. If you ever have to do proof of ownership, eso just kind of being a little proactive before you ever have an emergency on. We have a lot of tips on our website for that. OK, yeah, that’s all. Good information. Well, Leslie, thank you so much for coming on. We appreciate your joining us on the program today. Well, thank you so much for having me. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, joined the air p A to take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue

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