Dogs SMIRNOFF (12).jpg

Pet owners can now text the word "Lost" to 555888 to begin receiving text messages immediately that will walk you through steps proven successful in reuniting owners with lost pets.

Losing a pet is like losing a family member. It can be overwhelming for pet owners. Kern County Animal Services has implemented a new program, Text to Home, to help reunite animal owners when their pets go missing.

Pet owners can now text the word "Lost" to 555888 to begin receiving text messages immediately that will walk you through steps proven successful in reuniting owners with lost pets. Once the owner sends the text, they will begin receiving periodic text messages that include:

• Pets inside Kern County Animal Shelters;

• Other local animal shelter pets;

• Facebook and Craigslist lost and found pet pages;

• YouTube videos that illustrate the best steps to take to find a lost dog or cat; and

• Microchip registries

"This was an innovative idea that was the brainchild of the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento, and thanks to the Petco Foundation's support, Kern County is able to implement the same program to help get lost pets back home," said Nick Cullen, director of Animal Services for Kern County.

Have a Heart Humane Society in Tehachapi offers free microchip scanning for found animals.

"They are more than welcome to bring the strays that they find here for us to check for microchips," said Carol Larimore, president of Have a Heart Human Society.

According to Larimore, pets with microchips are usually reunited with their owners in a matter of hours nearly 100 percent of the time.

Have a Heart will attempt to foster animals found without microchips; however, they are unable to accept all strays. In addition, the nonprofit organization is mandated my law to keep found strays they accept for a minimum of 15 days before anything can be done with them versus a three-day minimum for animal shelters.

Have a Heart has also provided local law enforcement, including the police departments in Tehachapi, Stallion Springs and Bear Valley Springs, with microchip readers.

The Kern County Animal Shelter does not charge for the text messages; however, some charges may apply depending on your mobile provider.

For more information on the Text to Home program, call Kern County Animal Services at 868-7100 or visit kerncountyanimalservices.org.