Animal Rights

Search or Scam: L.A. Animal Services 'Lost Pet Postcards'

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

When our pet gets lost, most of us go a little crazy. After we finally stop running up and down the street frantically, we hopefully contact our local animal shelter, and now days most of us think “web site” immediately. But, if it’s a municipal public animal-control agency, do we expect to be asked to buy “Lost Pet Postcards” at a price range of $399 to $1,299 as “a proven way to help find our lost pet.” That’s what happens at www.laanimalservices.com, the Los Angeles City Animal Services Department.

The first page on this governmental site is just a big blue paw on a white page, which states “Adopt, Foster, Volunteer.” OK, nice, but I just lost my dog!!

Next is the homepage, which offers “Adopt the Love of a Companion,” “How Can we Help You?” and “You Can Make a Difference.” OK, you can help me find Barkley!

No help under “How Can we Help You?”, so let’s slide around on this maze of lists. Aha, there it is--under “Adopt Love!“ (Now why didn’t I know that?) Right there at the very bottom of the list in little letters, “Find a lost Pet.”

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Click to next page, “Find Your Lost Companion Animal.” and “Click here if you lost your dog"  (followed by cat and “all other pets.”) OK, that’s an easy choice!

Suddenly the warm fuzzy pictures are gone, and I am thrust onto an all-white page with no logo, and a worksheet titled, “Lost DOG Registration.” (It’s pasted below directly from www.laanimalservices.com on 5/31/11).

Is this a new standard practice for governmental shelters? The prices for the Post Cards are $399 (500), $599 (1,000), $999 (2,000), $1,299 (3,000). Turns out I wasn’t even on the City site anymore, but I had no notification of that. It said farther down on the form that any image becomes the property of HLP Inc., so I ran a search. Turns out this is Licensepet.com, affiliated with or part of Pet Harbor.

I’m not opposed to free enterprise and I wouldn’t mind the City making a little extra money if it meant finding a pet, but the claim, “Lost Pet Postcards are a proven way to help find your lost pet” is disturbing. Just which part is “proven?”

I called Marcia Mayeda, President of California Animal Control Directors Association (CACDA), and also Director of Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control, and she said she had not personally been approached by any company to offer this service and hadn’t heard of it.

I ran it by Attorney Jeffrey Zinder in Glendale, CA, who states, “First, there are questions. Has the City of Los Angeles secured an opinion from its City Attorney on whether it is proper to link into a private business that makes money off what appears to be a request for City services?

"A link into a private business without going through an investigative process allows that business to capitalize on citizens who at a time of need and distress could easily overlook the small print on an outside tab indicating you are no longer on a City site.

“They are being given the impression that this use of “Lost Pet Postcards” has been proven to the City as an effective means of recovery of their beloved pet. Is it proper for the City of Los Angeles to give its apparent seal of approval to this process at a minimum cost of close to $400?  Is the City or someone associated with this website receiving something for allowing this creative marketing tool?  Before the City lends its seal to any private enterprise, there needs to be procedures followed and noticeable disclaimers.”

Question...

Just wondered if anyone else has seen this on a city/county site, and if you ordered these cards. The company states, “We will manufacture and send Lost Pet Postcards, blanketing the neighborhood where your pet was lost…A picture in every mailbox.”

They admit on the form that "people...are distraught [when] looking for a lost pet," so is this a proven way to find a pet or does it take advantage of our vulnerability when a beloved pet is missing?

If you ordered “Lost Pet Postcards” from PetHarbor/licensepet.com, was it a “…proven way to help find your lost pet”?

Lost DOG Registration

Please fill in the form below. The form can be seen here in picture form as well.
You will be emailed automatically when an animal matching what you select is registered as FOUND or shows up at one of the following shelters:

East Valley Animal Care and Control Center, Harbor Animal Care and Control Center, West Los Angeles Animal Care and Control Center, South Los Angeles Animal Care and Control Center, North Central Animal Care and Control Center, West Valley Animal Care and Control Center
click here to re-select shelters

This page is not maintained by any animal shelter, but it is our policy to forward your information to shelters that have supplied us with an appropriate email address.
None of the shelters from the above list have done so. You will still receive emails.

Automatic Email Requests are effective for 30 days. After that you will be asked to submit a new request. Emails are sent once per day.

We do not accept information from pet stores or breeders. By the transfer of information to us you are certifying that you do not represent a pet store or breeder.

After filling in this form you will have the opportunity to select Lost Pet Postcards options

If you wish, use the browse button to upload a picture (.jpg only) of the animal.
(landscape mode, 4:3 aspect ratio is best -- if that made no sense, don't worry)

PLEASE, this is serious. Do not upload inappropriate pictures and spoil this service for people who are distraught and looking for their lost pet. Also, sad to say, it is safer not to upload a picture that includes any people. Just the animal, please.

All uploaded images become the property of HLP, Inc. All images are subject to review and may be displayed or not at the discretion of HLP staff.

Don't forget to select how many Lost Pet Postcards you want us to send for you!

Lost Pet Postcards are a proven way to help find your lost pet.
After submitting this form your browser will be redirected to a page where you can select Lost Pet Postcard options