Reuniting animals with owners a fulfulling job

July 13, 2009|By JANET HEIM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Meredith Davis Pribble grew up with an assortment of family pets.

The 2002 Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) High School graduate went to Juniata College to study zoology, then changed colleges and switched her major to English, with a minor in Spanish.

After graduating from Shippensburg (Pa.) University in 2006, she felt the pull of working with animals and landed a job at the Humane Society of Washington County. She has been part of the customer service team for two years.

Since March, she's been responsible for the Lost & Found Department, going to painstaking lengths to reunite missing pets with their owners. Pribble admits that her job consumes her 24/7.


"You think about them, dream about them, you worry," said Pribble, 24.

The best part of the job is when pets and owners are reunited.

"The tail is wagging, the mom is crying," she said.

Pribble said she realizes she's not always going to be able to make a match, knowing that some of the animals were abandoned. Instead, she focuses on the matches she can make.

Pribble, who lives in Shady Grove, Pa., with her husband of almost one year and their three dogs, said a key to successful reunions is for the pet owner to work with her in the search. She stressed the importance of calling as soon as a pet is discovered to be missing.

Owners of missing pets should check the neighborhood because many pets, especially cats, don't tend to wander far from home, she said. Dogs, on the other hand, can travel long distances, which is why time is of the essence.

"Check every nook and cranny. Check with neighbors, people in the area, construction workers working in the area, kids, mail carriers, the newspaper carrier, the UPS driver," Pribble said.

She also advises checking The Herald-Mail, Antietam Cable and NBC-25 for lost pet reports.

The next step is to put up fliers in the neighborhood, in local stores with permission and at the Humane Society. Lost & Found reports should include a photograph, if possible, or at least identifiable markings that could make the pet easier to spot.

Medical information, such as allergies, along with eye color, size, weight and breed of the pet are important to know. To aid in the search, it's important for pets to have collars containing current contact information.

Pribble stressed the value of microchipping, a process that can provide invaluable information if the pet is missing.

The first thing Pribble does when a stray pet arrives is scan it for a microchip. The Humane Society holds clinics for microchipping pets, the next one being Saturday during Smithsburg Pride Days.

Once a stray animal is turned over to the Humane Society, it is observed for five business days before being put up for adoption. Animals are tested for contagious diseases and dogs are assessed for behavior.

The pets also are given necessary vaccinations, spayed or neutered, and microchipped.

In June, 81 stray dogs were taken to the animal shelter and more than 3,000 cats were turned in. Lost rabbits, snakes, iguanas and ferrets are among the animals Pribble has reunited with pet owners.

To contact the Lost & Found Department, go to and click on Lost & Found under Programs and Services; call 301-733-2060, ext. 209; or go to 13011 Maugansville Road in Hagerstown.

If you go:

What: Humane Society clinic for microchipping pets, rabies vaccines, licensing

Where: Smithsburg Pride Days, carnival grounds behind Smithsburg Fire Hall

When: Saturday, July 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: Fees vary

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