Pet Lover Geek

The History of PetHub and Lost Pet Prevention Month

July 06, 2021 Season 6 Episode 12
Pet Lover Geek
The History of PetHub and Lost Pet Prevention Month
Show Notes Transcript

Join us for today's roundtable on how PetHub and Lost Pet Prevention month came to be. Listen as Lorien Clemens and Tom Arnold take the hot seat and answer questions from listeners to give you all the answers you have been looking for!




00:00 Alesha Adams

Hello pet lovers, welcome to Pet Lover Geek, powered by PetHub. I'm Alesha Adams, a digital marketing specialist here at PetHub, and I will be your host today as we turn the tables and put Lorien Clemens in the hot seat for this episode. Today we are talking about lost pet prevention and answering questions that have been sent in on the topic. This topic is very near and dear to everyone at PetHub and is the reason we started Lost Pet Prevention, and who better to talk about this with than our very own co-founders, Lorien Clemens and Tom Arnold. Welcome you guys!

00:30 Lorien Clemens

Hi!

00:31 Tom Arnold

Nice to be here.

00:32 Alesha Adams

Tom's vision for PetHub has led to bringing lost pets home faster for almost a decade, and I'm super excited to sit down with him and Lorien, and talk about why this issue is so important to us, and give listeners a deeper understanding of PetHub's mission. So I think we should go ahead and jump right into it, starting with a little bit of background on how PetHub came about, and how that ties into why we started Lost Pet Prevention Month.

00:54 Lorien Clemens

Tom?

00:55 Tom Arnold

Ooh. Well, actually I was traveling in India and it occurred to me that it'd be nice to have a place on the web where you can actually manage your pet's data to make it easier for people taking care of your animals. Because I had a project that went from a one month project in India to three months, and then now I had to find not only a house sitter but somebody to take care of my pets. That was kind of the start of it, when I got back to the States and I was trying to figure out how to pull everything together. I actually had a cat that went missing on me one day as I was pulling out of my garage, and where her litter box was, and she shot out the garage door and now this indoor cat was terrified and went missing outside, and I was caught flat footed. I didn't know where to even begin. I didn't have a current picture, I didn't know where the shelters were in the area. I didn't know what all the tips were for finding a lost pet and so on. So that's basically where the whole idea started. When I realized there just weren't many tools out there for helping you find a pet that had gone missing.

01:56 Lorien Clemens

And if I could add too, I mean one of the big complications that came from that too, was realizing that, oh no, I don't think that my information is up to date on her identification. Oh gosh, I don't even know how to do that, and how do I do that with a microchip now and any tag that she had old phone numbers 'cause I've moved recently. I mean, it was this big complicated thing.

02:15 Tom Arnold

Exactly.

02:16 Lorien Clemens

By the way, I have to add here because everybody always asks. Tazz came home at 4:00 AM.

02:20 Tom Arnold

He did get home.

02:25 Alesha Adams

But he came home, that's important. 

02:27 Lorien Clemens

Yes, yes, exactly. 

02:29 Alesha Adams

Awesome, awesome and why does that tie into why we started lost that prevention month? 

02:34 Lorien Clemens

Well, so we started PetHub in 2010 and honestly there was a lot of education that was involved with helping people change the paradigm of their thinking with pet identification, from you know that stamped metal ID tag that was invented before the Civil War, that most people use, especially through pet licensing and rabies tag, but then also to even the cute vanity tags that people have their pets name and the single phone number. Again, it was this paradigm shift of how to think about identification and then when people thought about you know technology with identification they thought immediately of microchips, and so when we were having these conversations with people about the benefits of moving over to a digital ID tag, so often people would say, "oh well I just have a microchip for my pet, I don't need to worry about that." or they would say, "oh my pet never goes missing or he's never very far from me." And when I would be having these conversations and I would bring up, you know, all the ways that pets do go missing that you never would have expected, and then some of the shortcomings of microchips, though they are a great, you know, safety net, like, there are some shortcomings there, and then you know the basic shortcoming of a standard ID tag. People would often say like, "oh I never even thought about that." But when we were looking at what the conversation was, in the pet industry, and in the community itself, like the only conversation really was about microchips, and we realized that there's so much more to getting a lost pet home quickly than just microchips. And it boiled down to, it's all about prevention. Even after the pet has gone missing, it was about the prevention beforehand that can help them get home quickly.

04:11 Tom Arnold

And preparation.

04:12 Lorien Clemens

And preparation, right. So I decided, you know what, we're gonna just -- at that time in 2014, all these months and weeks and days were coming up that people were just naming it a day or a week and then that was what the conversation was going to be about, and so I said I'm going to do Lost Pet  Prevention Week, and I decided to do this though late May 2014, and so quickly started pulling everything together. Got some people in the industry who wanted to help and want to put out some content, and we launched on July 1st, 2014. Lost Pet Prevention Week! And there's kind of a funny story there. If I can share it with everybody.

04:51 Alesha Adams

Yes! Please do.

04:52  Lorien Clemens

And I'm gonna call out my good friend Amy Berkhert at gopetfriendly.com, she was the 1st. The content that was out on that day, and we had somebody scheduled every day for that week -- first week of July, and Amy's article which was fabulous, about you know, keeping your pets with you when you're traveling, said she was really happy to be part of Lost Pet Prevention Month! And so this article went out on multiple channels and then all of a sudden folks that I had chatted with earlier who said, gosh, I just don't have time to get something together by the 1st week of July. You know, maybe I can do something for you later in the year. But not by 1st week in July, there were literally calls that morning saying, oh, wow you're doing a whole month? That's fantastic. I'm so thrilled, I could get something to you next week or the third week of July, and all of a sudden I was like, oh, I guess we're doing a month! So that's how Lost Pet Prevention Month got started, but seven years ago. Holy moly, so yeah. 

05:48 Tom Arnold

7 years...

05:49 Alesha Adams

That's awesome. That's an awesome story to have to look back on, it all works out you know, a month is a great, great thing to have for conversations. So thank you guys for sharing that background. I'm sorry you had to go through what you did to start PetHub, but I'm really glad we got petHub through that 'cause it's so important for the pet community, so that's great. Yeah, so now that we've got that bit of background set there, we're going to go ahead and answer some questions that have been sent in from individuals that are just eager to learn more about lost pet prevention, and so one of the first ones is, tell us about the scariest time you lost a pet, and what happened? and what did you learn? And I know you just gave the origin story, so I wonder if there's any other situations you guys have been in, and have heard of that you can share.

06:31 Lorien Clemens

Well, we have one for our personal, and then I can tell you about a couple of ones that we've had shared from the PetHub community. We actually just -- what month and a half ago,

06:40 Tom Arnold

Tormund?

06:41 Lorien Clemens

Tormund! So Tormund, our lovely big ginger Tabby, is an escape artist. He wants nothing more than to be an outdoor cat, but he cannot be an outdoor cat. Not only because of where we live, but also he's got some medical issues, and so Tormund, got out, we're not 100% sure how he got out, but it had something to do with answering the door for getting a pizza. Anyway, he got out, but we didn't discover he was actually out for a good hour and a half. And I will tell you that because of what we've built with PetHub, I did know exactly what I needed to do, even though it was extremely scary, so I immediately was able to make sure that his PetHub account was completely up to date, and all the numbers were there, which it was. I was able to quickly start a missing pet report with PetHub.com, which goes out in a 50 mile radius to all the shelters and rescues locally. I was able to go onto his microchip account, which I had listed on PetHub.com, and so I was able to quickly get there and make sure that that was all up to date, and then sent out a missing pet report with them. I was able to post something on next door, and I was able to post to our local Facebook lost and found pets. I did all of that in what, 20 minutes? and when Tom started PetHub that would have taken potentially hours 'cause you had to gathered pictures, gather all the information. All these kinds of things. It was all done immediately. I literally pushed print on the PetHub missing pet report and created lost pet flyers, handed them to Tom. He started walking them around the neighborhood. Tormund did get home at 3:00 AM. He clearly had had a tussle with maybe a raccoon, were not sure, but anyway, it was amazing because immediately we were starting to get people just down the street -- we're able to say, "hey, I think I saw your cat in the backyard." Because we were able to be that fast with getting the word out about our cat. So that was for us, and it ended very well and very easily, but we hear all the time about these random things that you never would have in a million years thought of. This is how my pet would go missing, which is why one of the reasons we started Lost Pet Prevention Month was to help people understand those ways that pets can go missing. So there is the, you know, the door was open a little bit too long and the Houdini cat, you know, scooted out. That's a very common one, I think. But things like, people would have a snowstorm and they didn't realize that the wind was going to push all of the snow up to the side of the house, and then the dog was able to quickly jump over the fence that they have never been able to jump over before.

09:11 Tom Arnold

Lawn mower service left the gate open. 

09:13 Lorien Clemens

Lawn mower service left the gate open. Coming right up around the corner, and which is why we started Lost Pet Prevention Month in July, is July 4th, and it's a time where big loud sounds happen and it scares animals, and just a tiny open door or a little bit of daylight underneath a fence can be all a pet needs to start to get that escape -- fear trigger going and then they start digging or clawing and they can get out that way. We also hear about people. I know they got to the vet and they opened up the door and the dog shot out before they even had a chance to grab their collar.

09:48 Tom Arnold

Well also holidays like Thanksgiving and things like that, the doors being opened and closed for guests. Halloween is a big one because you're opening for trick or treaters. The list goes on.

09:58 Lorien Clemens

In the summertime just in general kids are home from school. They are going in and out, and you know, come on, let's be honest most kids don't stop and say, "oh I need to shut this door securely so that the cat doesn't get out. You know, that kind of thing, and so there's a lot of things that you would never think of as being a critical situation. Oh, and let's not even get started with natural disasters, or unexpected disasters like what just happened down in Florida. I mean, with the tower going, I mean that kind of thing. You don't expect those kinds of things to happen, and those I guarantee are going to lead to missing pets. 

10:34 Alesha Adams

That's great, thank you so much for sharing all that, definitely, especially with the unexpected natural disasters that no one can fathom at that moment in time. Yeah, it's great. Next question is, how can people make sure their dogs are good with kids without putting the child at risk? In their own pack, or when out meeting new children?

10:55 Lorien Clemens

 Yeah, that's an interesting one. Yeah while it's not particularly -- necessarily a lost pet prevention one, it certainly is an important one, and it can lead -- it can definitely -- It's definitely related in the way that training is one of the essential parts of lost pet prevention. Particularly with dogs, I mean training cats is possible, but it's not as easy as it is with dogs. So one of the things that folks that we've worked with, people like Robin Bennett, Jamie Mcdoll, those kind of folks, the folks over at Harper training have helped us do with what we've done with Lost Pet Prevention Month are put together tools that pet parents, dog parents, can do with their pets to first prevent them from getting lost, which can be in a situation where they're with children, they just want to get away, and so you know, like preparing them for those situations. But then also like how -- once if they are missing. How to prepare the animal for being handled when they get found by a child or by an adult. And so there are games like gotcha, where you can literally play a game where taking the animal by the collar when they're in a, you know hyper situation, becomes a game and becomes a good thing. So playing the gotcha game with your dogs, making sure that they have excellent ability to sit and stay even when they're in a situation, whether it really hyper and excited. This can be critical to for dealing with children too, the dogs not jumping up immediately, like knocking over the child, which can be problematic, but then recall, and you know, playing all kinds of games with recall in all kinds of situations. It is not just enough to stand at the back door and be able to call the dogs name, and get them to come because they know that they're going to get a treat when they go do their business outside. You have to go do that recall game everywhere, in all kinds of situations when they're having all kinds of distractions around them, and honestly, doing that training with your children will be one of the best ways to help your child and the dog become best buddies and trust each other. It's all about trust, so I hope that answers the question.

13:04 Alesha Adams

Yeah, that was great, thank you. Next one, you have any specific advice for lost pet prevention, regarding cats? That's been a big one. 

13:14 Tom Arnold

Just from my own personal experience, I mean one of the big things when Taz went missing. If you've worn a shirt recently, then to take that off and leave it outside so that the cat can pick up your scent, recognizing that a lot of times when a cat goes missing, they're hiding pretty close by. They don't travel nearly as much as like a dog might. Cats are typically hiding, waiting for things to get quiet and calm down. Some people like the idea of putting food out, some people not, 'cause it could attract like other issues, like raccoons and making it more dangerous for your pet, so it's really kind of play that by ear. One thing I've done that's worked well in both cases with Taz and Tormund -- woah we're going to start last Tom prevention week -- is we leave the garage door open just a little bit so that they can get back into a safe place, and have some kind of shelter, and then you know the normal things of just getting the word out. Spreading the word. 

14:11 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and if I can talk too about that prevention part with cats, there's a couple things with prevention. Cats don't generally like to wear collars unless you start when they're babies. So if you are getting a kitten, put that little bugger into a collar and make it a part of daily life, not just every now and then, but it really has to be so that when it's off of them, they feel wrong, so that they're not completely, you know, a lot of cats when you try to train them as an adult to wear a collar. They aren't having it at all. Tormund will wear it long enough for us to get a photo, and that's it, Houdini won't even wear it that long, we do have a cat named Houdini by the way. So when you get a kitten, start them on collar training immediately. The other important thing about cats, and it's true about dogs, but especially about cats, you need to Houdini-proof your house. You need to go through your house, and they can get through very small spaces. Cats are like liquid, so if the space is big enough for them to get their head through, no matter how fat they are, they can get their whole body through it, and so you have to go through your house and find any kind of -- like if you have window screens, for example, that can push out just a little bit. That's enough for them to squeeze their head through.

15:32 Tom Arnold

Tormund is named after Tormund Giantsbane from the Game of Thrones, and he is a hunk. He is big, and he squeezes underneath the baby gate all the time, and I just watch him just spread out and just slither on through.

15:48 Alesha Adams

Oh my goodness.

15:49 Tom Arnold

He's so huge. 

15:51 Lorien Clemens

So imagine like if -- we've left the door open just a tiny bit in the backyard, to like call for the dog to come in -- kind of a thing, and he has got almost all of his head through. As soon as that head goes through, he's gone. Cats are liquid, so that's a big part of too, and then the other thing that Tom had mentioned. Like, once you realized the cats missing, unless you saw them exit the house, realize that a lot of cats are actually hiding in plain sight, in the house, and so part of lost pet prevention and for a quick recovery, is knowing your cat, knowing their personality, knowing all those hiding spaces. We know that our cat Houdini likes to hide just up underneath things on top of chairs. So we literally go through every table, every desk, at the most likely places where she can just kind of raise herself up so you can't see her, but she's underneath that table, and so those are the kinds of things they like, boxes they like little dark hiding places, so always make part of your search, for your cat, an indoor search.

16:52 Tom Arnold

Two places that Houdini would use, just as a tip, She'd go underneath an ottoman, and a lot of ottomans actually have a netting underneath it, and eventually that got torn away, and she would crawl up into that, and lay on top that netting like a hammock. She also did that with the box spring where I finally found out that if I looked under the bed I'd see this little bulge hanging on, and then Taz and Houdini would both do that, and then she would also climb in on our sleeper sofa. She would crawl underneath and then crawl up into the sleeper sofa were it basically had a little shelf up in there, on top of the mattress, where I couldn't see her or anything, and you know, that was a perfect hiding spot.

17:39 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and I suppose it could also be little dogs too, but cats are notorious for hiding in plain sight. You're like literally sitting on them on the couch. You have no idea that they're up in that couch, so. 

17:50  Alesha Adams

Cats are amazing, and the name Houdini is perfect because cats are literally magic. That's crazy. Another question we had is, why is a PetHub tag better than a normal standard tag?

18:08 Tom Arnold

Well, one of the nice things about the PetHub tag is that since it is a link to an online profile, it's not static data. The unchanging data that's actually on a tag, like a stamped or etched phone number. It's actually linking to an online profile where you can update it as much as you want, and not just with a single phone number. You could have literally 100 phone numbers if you wanted to. Plus, we could do all kinds of other things, like when somebody scans the tag with a smartphone. We can actually pull GPS off their phone and send an alert to you and all of your friends and say, hey, somebody just viewed your pets profile, and here's their location. Lorien I don't want to take all of them.

18:50 Lorien Clemens

The other thing too is that just the profile itself can hold -- it holds unlimited context, but it also holds all your pets vaccination records, if they have a medical condition, they have a medication that they need to take. If they have an allergy. If they have a behavior problem. I mean, like less than 2% of PetHub recovered pets ever hit a shelter door, so we tend to keep pets out of shelters, which is great, but if they should end up in the shelter, the shelter being able to access that kind of medical information or behavioral information, can in some cases be the difference between life and death, and can certainly keep them from getting a double vaccination, if they're worried, because a lot of shelters, depending on what animal it is, they'll put them into quarantine, because they don't know if they've been vaccinated, and so having that information readily available to the finder, can also be critical in that time.

19:37 Tom Arnold

I also like that our tag -- you can move to a single tag because since you can have your rabies tag number and your license tag number as part of their profile, instead of having two, or three, or four tags hanging around your cat's neck, you can move to a single ID tag since that profile will show all of that information.

19:55 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and like if you're going out of town, you can just change the who's at the top of the list. You know, put the pets that are up to the top. If you change veterinarians, you can change your veterinarian right then and there, and you know standard ID tags you have to get a whole new tag, whenever you want to change your phone number. This way you don't have to worry about that at all. 

20:12 Alesha Adams

Thanks, and I have PetHub tags for my pups and I promise that has nothing to do with the fact that I work at PetHub. Or maybe... I'm just kidding! No, it's great. It's a great tool to have and I just love having that extra safety precaution on there, so that's great. Talking about the tags, that next step is, how could someone license their pet through PetHub to have it all kind of in one space? Is that something that's happening now? 

20:40 Lorien Clemens

Yes, so we have a couple of partners. San Diego, pretty much the entire county, not the entire county, but like 80% of the county can come to our website to get a pet license through us. Cobb County, Georgia can come to our website to get a license through us, and then we have a lot of our other pet licensing partners, where if you come to our website, we'll direct you to their online pet licensing portals, no matter where they are. So the majority of what we do, are helping communities with pet licensing and rabies tags. And so it's critical that you get your pet license if that is a municipal ordinance for you, and there's a lot of different reasons why it's important. Biggest reason now it is the single best way that you can prove your pets ownership. We get this question all the time. Of you know, "you know, my pet has a microchip in my name, so therefore it's my dog, right? Doesn't that prove it?" And no, the answer is no, it doesn't. The only thing that would prove that your pet is yours legally is if you have licensed the pet underneath your name. Plus, for a lot of communities, it's a free ride home. A lot of communities. If your pet is licensed through whatever municipal organization licenses pets, they'll get your pet home for free for you and you're not having to pay a shelter fee or a lost pet fine or anything like that. So it's really critical. Anything else to add it?

22:03 Tom Arnold

No.

22:04 Lorien Clemens

Well and the other thing is, in most communities, the money that's generated from pet licenses goes directly back to the animal shelter, which it's kind of one of those things like, you never expect your pets gonna get lost. You never expect that your pets going to be taken to a shelter, but when they are, you want to make sure that that shelter is well funded, well equipped to shelter that can take care of your pet. Keep them safe, and healthy, and happy until you can get back with them.

22:27 Tom Arnold

A lot of people say that it's like, look my pet never goes missing or things like that, and so I don't need to license it, but it's not just about you and your pet, it's about your community, and it's also about helping protect you from animals that do need further assistance in some fashion. 

22:43 Alesha Adams

Great, thank you for sharing that. That's great. I'm excited to see hopefully that expand into more communities as PetHub continues to grow. As we're wrapping up here, we just have kind of one last question that our listeners kind of want to know here, and it is, what are those first steps someone should take when they lose a pet?

23:01 Lorien Clemens

Well, if you're on PetHub.com, very first up that you should do. Is log into your profile. Make sure that all the information is up to date. Make sure that you have any kind of vaccinations or any kind of things that might be critical for that pet -- to let people know. Make sure that those are up to date and then if you scroll down on your profile, you'll see file a missing pet report. Now, if you are a premium user, you get to file that report for free. Or you can quickly upgrade for a couple of dollars to the monthly, or it's like $25.00 to the annual, and then you can also do that missing pet report, and you can update that missing pet report as many times as you need to, for free, once you're a premium user. The other thing that you can do again for free is you can print out a lost pet poster. Then you can take that lost pet poster and you can share it virtually to all your social media channels. I mentioned it earlier. You can go onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Nextdoor, you name it. You can share that. Either as a link or as a PDF to anywhere you want, and that's your first steps, is to get that missing pet report filed on your updated profile. Then the other thing -- once you filed that missing pet report, part of that is you'll see a list of all the local shelters and rescues, and you can immediately start contacting them directly so that they know that, hey hate your pets missing. Now, yes that missing pet report went out to them, but a phone call is that one more step that you're doing to try to help those pets get home. Ideally, you would have at least another person in the mix that can help you, because somebody should be out there looking for the pet as soon as possible. So you need to get those pet reports sent out, but then somebody else needs to be out there pounding the pavement with a charged smartphone, a flashlight if it's in the middle of the night, some stinky treats that you know the pet's gonna want to come too, and a leash. So you know, get out there and start pounding the pavement. Once you've got your lost pet posters done, start handing them out to local neighbors, posting them as much as you can. Most pets are within a mile of where they were lost. Now we do hear these really wacky reports of oh my cat jumped into the back of the FedEx and was found like five counties away. I mean those happen, but the majority of pets are within a mile of where they went missing. So you just start that spiral pattern in your neighborhood and keep repeating it, and talk to your neighbors, your neighbors are your greatest resource, they have likely seen your pet, maybe just the back end of your pet as they're running by, but they have likely seen it and that can help pinpoint where they are.

25:28 Tom Arnold

Don't give up.

25:29 Lorien Clemens

Don't ever give up. I mean the bottom line is -- so 96% of PetHub pets -- of recovered pets are home in 24 hours or less. We're very proud of that, but you still will hear stories of pets that are found months, even years later, and it's because their pet parents never gave up. Always keep your profiles up to date because you never know when that pets -- their profile is going to be accessed and then somebody needs to get ahold of you. I will add too. We are big supporters of microchips. Microchips are problematic, and they're also the single best safety net that you should have for your pet. You should not rely on it to be your only source of identification. It's like trying to sit on a stool that only has one leg. But it is a critical part of pet identification and so you need to make sure that your microchip is up to date, and there are free services like foundanimals.org where you can go and register your pets microchip for free. There are a lot of microchip companies do charge you to update your pets information, which is unfortunate, but there are free ones out there too, where you can put all your pets information and link it to the number that's on your microchip. 

26:41 Alesha Adams

Awesome, well thank you so much for coming on today Tom and Lorien, keeping pets safe is really the central goal of PetHub and educating pet parents about what they can do is just another measure we take as PetHub to ensure pets live healthy, happy and safe lives.

26:57 Lorien Clemens

I'd like to really quick If I can interrupt you Alicia, I want to make sure that -- so I know your people are going to go to pethub.com looking for all this information which is great. It's there, but the fastest way to find out all these great tools for lost pet prevention recovery is to go to Lostpetprevention.com, I don't know if you were gonna mention that or not, but I just wanna make sure it got in there.

27:22 Alesha Adams

No I'm glad you put it in there, teamwork makes the dream work. So yes, as Lorien said, please go to Lostpetpreventionmonth.com to find all these resources right front and center for you to look through, and as always, if you have any topics you want us to geek out about, please drop us a message on our social media channels and we'll be happy to look through those and talk about it. So thank you for listening. I'm Alesha Adams, and this has been Pet Lover Geek, powered by PetHub.

27:48 Music