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Suffolk County sheriff creates database for missing pets, hopes it will become a national model

Suffolk County sheriff creates local database for missing pets 02:09

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A new initiative is being rolled out to keep four-legged members of the community safe. 

The Suffolk County sheriff has created a database for missing pets. 

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, he's hoping it will be become a model for finding some of the millions of dogs and cats that go missing nationwide. 

The name of one little terrier found two weeks ago roaming Central Islip with no collar and no chip is not known. The terrier is one of 10 million pets that go missing annually in the U.S. 

Only 15% of dogs in shelters are reunited with their human families. 

Frantic pet owners must fend for themselves. 

"We always tell them -- post that their dog is missing with a recent photo," said Teri Giacalone of Islip Animal Shelter. "They have to do all this themselves, go on all these different websites, call their local shelters."

The Suffolk sheriff is launching a regional first, a lost pet network to spring into action when a pet goes missing, so heartbroken pet owners can to more than social media. They'll register their pets. The info will be housed in a sheriff department database so if and when the pup wanders off, alerts are sent to patrols. 

"Centralized and organized, because right now there is nothing in Suffolk County to really assist pets that are lost," said Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon. "Not only would we alert out staff that may be on patrol in certain areas, but also we would post it on social media, we would notify shelters." 

"We are going to have to embark upon an education process to encourage any pet owner out there to register  their pets," said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. 

The SPCA calls it a game changer, and reminds owners to also microchip beloved pets. 

"Just like if you lost a child, OK? It's just horrible. It's a horrible thing to lose an animal," said Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross. 

The pet network identification cards are available now on the sheriff's website, free for taxpayers because essentially the sheriff's department was already doing this for vulnerable children and seniors.

"We thought this would be a great extension, to do it for pets since we had all the equipment," said Sgt. Paul Spinella of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department. "It has all the identifying information, a photo. We keep that photo in our database so we can send it out to cooperating partners, deputies, whoever that's out to look for that pet." 

That terrier was one of the lucky ones - lost, but about to be adopted. 

Even fewer unchipped missing cats are ever reunited with their owners - around 2%.

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