Episode 66 – Patty Giarrusso

Patty has always been an animal lover and she believes she gets her love of animals from her grandmother, who she lovingly called Nanny. After spending over 16 years as a Realtor in NY, she moved to Florida where she retired with her husband. She’s been helping lost pets for the past six years and is the President and Founder of the nonprofit, Lost Pet Services, Inc. in the Sarasota/Manatee counties area of Florida. Patty also hosts a weekly radio show called, Let’s Talk Pets, which can be heard in over 148 countries. Patty and her husband, Jim, have two adult daughters, three grandchildren and two rescue dogs, Haley and Carly.

Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show. Patty Gina Russo started the loss, found Pets nine for one group back in 2013 when she discovered her two dogs were missing. Immediately starting to look for both Jackson Browne and Rocco, she discovered that there were no resource is other than Craigslist to post for lost and found pets. Since creating the lost found pets nine for one group, they have helped more than 6000 animals make it back home safely in Manatee and Sarasota counties of Florida. Their goal is to help reduce the number of strays brought into overcrowded local shelters by offering Microchipping and I D tags to reunited pets and to offer support. And resource is community resource is who need it most. Hey, Patty, Thanks for coming on today. Hi. I’m glad to be here, so give us a little bit about you. I mean, you’re not somebody that had a whole career in animal Rescue, and yet you’ve kind of you kind of jumped into this. Yeah. I was a realtor for 16 years back in New York. And when we moved to Florida, You know, um, I was basically retired. I decided I wasn’t going to do real estate because I didn’t know anything about the area. And it was completely different than the Syracuse New York market. Um, so, you know, I didn’t really know what I would do. And then, ah, one day when my dogs took off when my husband left the gate open, um, I realized that there was really a need for, you know, helping people would lost pets. And that’s how I started doing what I do now. So I really didn’t have any background in, um, you know, rescue or anything like that. It was just my love of animals that wanted me to ah, start something to help people. Yes. So this is like 2013 right? And the dogs got out where you were. You able to find them? Oh, Yeah. Thank goodness. Um, I always tell everybody if you lose your dog, grab your leash and start running around looking like a crazy person, and people will, people will stop and help. I mean, I have people on bicycles, you know, people that were walking people in cars, they all stopped to help and started looking. And, um, I headed off down the road and a guy saw me running with my leash in my hand and he said, Did you lose your dogs? I said, Yeah, he was, um, saying he got one to jump in the car, but the other one wouldn’t. So he left on both because he didn’t want to take one and not the other. And so my husband and I high tailed it down the street. And there they were, walking up the sidewalk like they were out for a stroll. We’ll never forget that image of them just walking side by side on the sidewalk like they were just out for a walk. You know, it was then it was funny. Yeah. What’s that? Hey, Mom, the adventure we just had you would like Yeah, so thank God too, because I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t picked one up? Because he turned them around some. So they were heading back to us because they were on the almost to a very busy road. So I was very thankful, you know? Yes. So now So you got him back right away. So then what prompted you to say there’s gotta be something else that could be done here? Well, at that time, there wasn’t anything other than Craigslist, you know? So I started looking on Craigslist, thinking I’m going to start matching the lost with the found, you know, because their world there were some there. And so I was making phone calls and e mailing people and trying to put the two together. And it was about the time that Facebook had started groups. So I thought, OK, I’m going to start a Facebook group for lost pets in the Manatee County Sarasota County area from, you know, here in Florida and, um, see what happens. I really didn’t expect to have more than a couple 100 people. And today we’re just shy of 20,000 members. That’s outstanding. Yeah, we’ve really grown. So now walk us through the process then So what? What happens now? You’ve got this Facebook group, and I know you’ve also got a website. What’s the process? I mean, people find you guys and then what did they do? Well, if people are on Facebook, you know, they search, um, you know, lost pets. And I always tell people to try to find the group the largest group, because that’s where you’re gonna get the most interaction. Probably the most posts of lost or found that you can look through. And generally it’s, ah group that has people actively on that group working every single day, which we d’oh. Um, so if they’re not on Facebook, are local animal shelter now gives them our information, and they could either go to our Web page or they go to the Facebook group So they steer them to us after they reported their animal, too. The shelter, the animal control, they steer them to us. So either get a phone call if they’re not on Facebook, and then I do the work for them. I create, you know, a post. But we asked people to make a post with a good picture. So it’s always important to have a really good picture of your pet in your home phone at all times. And, um, they have a picture of you and your pat in your phone at all times, because that way, if you have lost your pat, you have a good proof there. It’s you and it’s your pet that you can show somebody for proof of ownership. Um, then we asked them to, You know, we try to get as much information as possible so we can strategically work on you know, the location. So we want the nearest cross streets. The power was lost, the town, the zip code and the contact number. There’s nothing worse than having Ah posed. I lost my dog. But you can’t reach me because I haven’t given you any contact information or if somebody’s found one. So we’re very, very adamant about getting all those pieces of information. Then we provide them with a link to fill out a form. It’s an online form where they provide us with all the information. You know, um, size, age, sex, Whether it’s neutered spade microchip wearing a collar, you know any distinguishing features and, you know, um, their contact information, email, secondary contact information. We try together all this information as fast as we can, and then we create a flyer for them that we circulate to other other Facebook groups that, um, are in the area. And we have just under 1300 people that have signed up as what we call our zip code sharers. And the zip codes are broken down into zones. And then we tag all these people that have found up and said, This is lost in your area. Please share it to any H away group share with any neighborhood groups you with the next door up, you know? So were we just automatically as fast as we can do all of these things just to get that word out and get those flyers out? And sometimes I mean literally. Within five or 10 minutes, somebody sees that post go out. One sick, it’s shared and the reunion takes place. It could be that quick. Wow, you must have quite the network of you know, of people supporting him because this sounds like a lot of work to be able to get done in such a short time. Yeah, we do I mean, we’ve got it down to a science, pretty much so. That’s why we just feel that it’s really important when people start sharing this group or that group. You know, we say, make sure you give them our group because we are the only ones that do this. You know, we have a really good system in place, and our animal control actually uses are, um, Page as well. If they found a dog, they’ll go and they’ll check right away. Is this dog on there? Is it lost because they know they’re going to be able to get the information that they need to get that dog back home. So, you know, we just want to make it as easy as possible for everyone involved, whether you’re finder, whether you’re the owner, whether you’re the shelter, whoever you know, just so that dog doesn’t have to or that cat or lizard or turtle or whatever horrible thing. He doesn’t end up in the shelter because our shelters, probably just like yours in your area, are just overflowing. And you know, if we can keep the lost pets out of there, that leaves room for the ones that really, Unfortunately, might need to be there. Yeah. Now. So you’ve been doing this now for five years? I mean, how have things changed over those years? Um well, I don’t know exactly how it’s changed. Other than other than the fact that we have just become a lot more strategic and how we do it, You know, we always had. I was always very, um, specific about getting the information. But we started doing the flyers, and now we have our web page and, you know, just, um, trying to work with this many different animal or people in the animal community so that they know about us. You know, the vets, the groomers, um, pet sitters, anybody that has anything to do with pets. We want them to know about us. And we also became a five a one C three nonprofit, Um, just over a year ago, in March last year. Yeah. No one thinks I think it’s really cool about your website. It’s You have a lot of resource is out there. Action plans for lost dogs and cats. Can you tell us a little bit about how these came together? Yeah. You know, just working with other organizations. When I first started doing this, I got in touch with Kati Pavlovsky from The Lost Dogs of American. We have stayed in touch ever since I started a group. Um, she’s been so helpful, and I actually do a radio show. And she’s one of my monthly guests that we talk about lost pets every single month. Um, but she, you know, through working with her just on the phone and email on that type of thing, you know, kind of guided me. And, um, you know, I look at their web page and just did a lot of research and, you know, constantly adding new things and new ideas. And every time I talk with Kathy, I get some great ideas. Or if I interview any of the other people from the lost dogs of any other state, somebody’s always got a good idea, you know? And then we’re always tweaking things and adding ideas and anything that can help. Yeah. I want you to talk a little bit more about the radio show, cause that’s what I thought was really cool about you is you didn’t just stop it. I’m gonna start a Facebook group. I’m gonna start a website. Now. You’ve taken this into a national and international talk radio show? Yeah, yeah, with no no background in it either. But it’s fun, and, you know, I try to reach our My whole platform, of course, has lost pets and keeping your pet safe. So, um, you know, it’s got anything to do with whatever you can do to keep your pets safe. Help the shelter pets. You know what help rescues an adoption of pets, And but we really want to educate people on how do they keep their pets safe? And, um, because it does come not just to, ah, whether you’ve lost your pet. But if you have adopted a pet from a shelter say, Ah, a lot of times those pets get lost because they’re high flight risk. So, you know, we talk about that a lot and what you can do. I have a trainer on every month and he talks about things like that, and, you know, we just want the whole System tau work, and by being able to do the radio show, I’m just always trying to think of different things that we can help people with that have anything to do with how? What? You know, in a big I guess the big picture, how you can keep your pets from not getting lost. Or what would you do if it was lost? Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. No, I mean, how is that? Have you learned? It Sounds like you’ve learned a lot yourself through the radio show. I mean, it’s only been going on for about a year now. Yeah, I think about a year. Yeah. So what are some of the things I guess that you’ve learned or some of the interesting people you talk to? Well, I talked to you. Okay. Um I don’t know. I’ve talked about a lot of different people, you know, the different. Like finding Rover. I talked with the, um, that giant, um, rescue for seeing your dogs. I love them. I just talked with, um um I talked with somebody, you know, because we suffer a loss when you have lost a pet, and I don’t mean through death. I mean, just sometimes the pets were never found, and people are feel guilt in whatever. So I just talked with the bereavement counsellor about that, um, I I talked with a lot of different people in different topics, and I try to tie everything together sometimes because I do talk to Kathy Dombrowski from Lost Dogs of America and I have, ah, trainer on. So we kind of worked to kind of build a little picture each each month and almost not like a Siri’s, but something that kind of core needs a little bit. But it doesn’t always, but there’s always something that, you know, I hope people will find helpful. Um, you know it. I’ve talked to so many people I couldn’t without looking back. I’ll tell you right out the top of my head, but I really enjoy it, and I’m always looking for somebody to interview. That’s that’s got a you know, some great tips or wants to help like you. What you do is amazing. And, you know, I talked with the real Chur about, you know, moving with pets because a lot of times moving with pets, they get lost in the move, whether that’s it, the new house or the old house when the movers come. And, um, you know, there’s just a lot of things that people don’t think of that, Um, affect this lost pet world. Right? So it sounds like this is really become a passion for you. Yeah, it definitely has. It sure has. Yeah, I bet you never thought that when you were a realtor so many years ago that this is where you’d end up. No, I didn’t. But, you know, I always felt like there was something I was meant to Dio and I’ve always had a love of animals. And, um, I guess this is it, you know. So so petty. What is a normal week look like for you walk us through? Kind of how your day’s go. Oh, well, from the minute I wake up, whether I’m even out of bed, I look at you know what’s happened overnight because sometimes ah, report will come in at 1 a.m. You know of a lost pet. Somebody will send it in. And so, you know, it’s just constant. It never, ever stops. It’s almost like we work 24 7 because one of us and way say one of us liked one of my ad men’s. If we can’t sleep during the night, that’s what we do. like last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I was, uh, you know, 234 in the morning. So it’s almost like this is covered almost 24 to 7. Um, you know, I just check and make sure to see if there’s any post, because we do have to approve the post because we are pretty large group and we do get spam. So we have to approve dumb and we don’t like duplicate some groups, just, you know, everything just goes up there and there’s duplicate post, and it gets really confusing. So we try to make sure that, you know, we we only allow and I’m pretty strict about Onley lost and found. We don’t do re homing. We don’t do anything, you know. Occasionally, I’ll make an exception If it’s, um, you know, something from the shelter or something like that, I I will make an exception, but I’m very strict about just keeping it lost and found because we don’t want Oh, I have a lot of things in there because we do have so many lost that we need to reunite. Um, you know? So I checked my e mails like everybody else and just make the Flyers. I make every single flyer by hand, and I wish I could automate that somehow, but I don’t know how. So, you know, 5600 liars, I’ve made every single one of them by hand, and that takes a little time, and then, you know, you have to post them. And I have been getting messages throughout the day from people that need help. You know, whether their pets injured or sick or need, sister, that I’ve become the person people reach out to now that, um So I’m constantly getting questions, asked about things that don’t have to do with last pets, too. So, um, you know, I’m I’m just busy with stuff like, all the time. Um, you know, I’m just trying to work are different programs and working with the shelters and, um, the Humane Society. We give free microchips to the Humane Society to implant, and we give them to the animal rescue coalition to implant. So, you know, I’m always doing that stuff in the background. And we just got a, uh, pet tag I d engraver. So we’ll be able to give out free I d tags to people and, um, just there’s always stuff going on that people don’t see what I d’oh in the background. But that’s just part of the nonprofit part. Um, well, we’re running the lost pat part. It’s busy last December stops because pets don’t work 9 to 5. You know, they don’t get lost 9 to 5. Um, so you’re always always watching. You’re always watching. Yeah, it definitely sounds like it’s become your full time passion and your full time job. Yeah, it iss it definitely is. So what are what are Patty’s like? Top three things when your when your pet gets lost to me, What are the things that you’re constantly telling people to do first? Well, it’s really important that they report, um, their pet to animal control, whether it’s in managing county or Sarasota County. We do help people in the outer counties, but we don’t have the expertise and we tell him that. But we do direct, um, you know, to their animal service is and we try to give them a link to AA group in their county. Um, so it’s important to report to they’re animal control right away. And then to make a report with us right away that so that we can get the flyer out there. And we told them, You know, put out a scent article, a T shirt or something that’s been worn in some food and water. Maybe leave your garage or your line. I door cracked a little bit. So if the pet does come back, say in the evening, it’s able to get back in the house, Um, and ticket flyers up. That’s really, really important. And I don’t really think enough people do that. We just had a reunited last night. That was a little Boston terrier that was lost for just over 30 days, I believe. And somebody had found him pretty much right away and had held onto him because they weren’t on Facebook. They didn’t know whose pet it was. He did not have a chip or a tag. And so they’ve held him and they finally just saw Flyer and they and they got him back. So I had that flyer been up, you know, 30 days ago. Maybe the dog. Those poor people want to bend so sad and worried, and may be given a pope, you know? So those air Really the most important things? Oh, knocking on doors. You know, knock on your neighbor’s doors. Um, because sometimes here in Florida, um, you know the dogs or the kits the small ones get into people’s garages or sheds and you know, you need to see if they will check those for you. So there’s just those quick things to do. We don’t like people going out and chasing after pets. You know what? It would be better if people want to help to, rather than go out yelling, yelling off after a lost pet, they would be better served to get Flyer so and let the owner, you know, go door to door and maybe let the owner go looking. But a lot of people looking for lost pets is not always a great thing because it scares the pat on sometimes scares them into traffic where they could get killed, you know, um, so it’s best if people can help get the flyers out, because a lot of times people don’t know what to do. If they’re, if they know what to dio as faras searching, then that’s one thing. But if they don’t, we just had a situation last week where the ladies like tackle the dog. I don’t care how you get it. So she there were literally people chasing two of them. They she had two dogs. There were people chasing after this. These two dogs, you know, it was just and you could not tell her not to do that. She would not listen. Oh, those poor dogs must have been really scared. I mean, when somebody is chasing after you, what’s your instinct? I mean, when they always say, When a dog gets away from you, it’s best actually run the other way because they think it’s a game instead of chasing after them. So we we run into that a lot with animal rescue transport as well. Occasionally, dog can escape. And so we’ve got some tips for people is to, you know, sit down, face the other way, you run the opposite direction because that will usually grab their attention. Uh, yeah, yeah, but, you know, it’s, as you know, dealing with the public. Sometimes, Um, a lot of people know more than you, so it’s really hard to get our point across sometimes. Um, you know, and then I hear ah, lot of times that Oh, you’re just a Facebook group. Well, we’re a lot more than a Facebook group, and we have reunited thousands of pets. We know what we’re talking about. And, you know, we were doing this because we really, seriously want to help you. We gain nothing from another than the, you know, the joy of a pet being reunited with her family. So it’s not like we’re getting paid or anything like that. We’re just here to help, and we give you advice because we know what works. Yeah. No, you’re right. People definitely have their opinions, right? And they’re not shy about sharing them with you. So, um, no, I I can imagine it’s hard for you guys sometimes to try and educate them into the right way to do it in a calm way, because they’re in such an emotional state. Yeah. Yeah. So what things look like for you guys moving, moving head? You have any future plans or anything that’s coming up? Um, well, we have a couple of events coming up. We have barked over fist coming up next weekend. Um, and that’s just a local, um animal. A bunch of the people in the animal community are supporting the Animal Rescue Coalition, which does low cost spay and neuter and shots. So they’re a great organization there. One that we give free microchips to them to give, you know, to install in pets. And, ah, so we’ll be there doing, you know, check the microchip and supplying the free i d text to people. Um, you know, it’s really important that people check their dogs or cats microchips, and in this case, only dogs are allowed, Um, and making sure that those ships are registered. That was one of the most frustrating things doing this is that people have their pets chipped, but they’re not even sure if it’s registered in so many times it is not. And then it Sometimes we can’t get the pet back to the person because, ah, non registered microchip is sometimes just a cz bad as not having a microchip. So, you know, that’s really frustrating. So we helped them. We give them the information and who to call and what to do. And, um, so in the future, we’re just going to continue doing things like that. I I have just purchased some microchips. Scanners were giving 1 to 1 of the sheriffs next week. I think that 30th going to meet with them and giving them a microchip skinner to use in their animal cruelty division because a lot of times, um, pets that they might find may have been stolen. So they needed that. So we’re giving one of them. We’ve bought two more that we’re giving to two of the rural fire stations for after hours checks in Manatee County because, um, Sarasota County has 24 7 coverage because it’s run by the sheriff’s Department. But Manatee County does not. So after hours and on weekends, if somebody’s out in a rural area, they don’t want to drive all the way into the E. R Va to get a scan. So we’re giving microchips scanners to a fire department out in Myakka City and one out in perish, so people they might find pets in a more rural area have a place to go to get the pet scanned, and it hopefully will have a chip, and they can contact. Austin will be able to reunite it over the weekend because we do have issues here um, on the weekends about what to do with a pet if the finer can’t keep it. So we we thought that might help at least a little bit, you know, get the pet back on a weekend. So we’re doing that. We just want to keep doing more things, you know, with other agencies to help, um, you know, supply free microchips. That’s the That’s why we started the fiber one c three. Um, to be able to microchip is many pets as we can and now give them I D tags. Also just as a way to keep him out of the shelters. And it’s it’s a pretty simple process. It’s a pretty simple concept, so if we could just get everybody to take advantage of it, that would be great. Well, Patty will make sure to put your website, but do you want to call out any contact information if people want to get a hold of you guys? Yeah, sure, you can email me at Patty P a. T. T. Y at lost Found pets 941 dot com. If you have any questions, or maybe you’re listening and I want to do an interview on my radio show. You can certainly give me a call. And ah, are an email. Um, our web pages lost found pets 941 dot com And our Facebook group, um, is a group, and so you would have to type in lost and found pets. Nine for one. We do have a Facebook business page for lost pets. Service is because lost pet service is incorporated. Is the name of our, um five a one C three. But we had already started the group years before the, um the 501 c three started. So we just kept that as it was, because that’s what everybody knew. So sure. Well, Patty, thank you so much for everything that you do. And thanks for coming on the program today. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up? Um, yeah, I do. It’s the same thing I say at the end of my show. And it’s just to remember that a lost pet can’t tell anyone where it lives. So please be sure your microchip, your pat, and if it is microchipped that that microchip is registered and up today and please put I d tags on your pets That’ll get him home quick. And it will save you money if they stay out of the shelter. Because here it’s a free ride home if they have a microchip or i d so very cool. Well, thank you for sharing and thank you for coming on the program today, Patty. Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate you 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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