During the day, Tina Roe is a team leader at a large St. Louis brokerage firm. But in her spare time, she is a highly sought after pet finder who tracks down lost dogs and cats and reunites them with their humans. Because Tina has been instrumental in locating so many lost pets, she recently received Nextdoor’s Good Neighbor Award for St. Louis.
We asked her to talk about how she uses all available tools, including social media and traditional means, to bring pets home.
Dogster: How did finding lost pets become such a passion for you?
Tina Roe: I understand the bond between human and pets. I once had a dog disappear, and I have my suspicions as to what happened to him. To this day, I still wonder. One night, I was thinking of that sweet boy and it hit me: I needed to find a way to help. I vowed to help people so they wouldn’t have to sit and wonder. At that time, it was just sharing posts from various places. Little did I know that it would turn into what it is today. Now it is my mission to help reunite as many lost or found animals as possible.
How long have you been reuniting pets with their owners?
In 2011, I joined St. Louis, Missouri Lost & Found Paws. At the time, it was a new group to the St. Louis area, but now, we have over 17,000 members. With the success of the group, we expanded our efforts to all of Missouri. In 2014, we created Missouri Lost & Found Paws and have also started other smaller community groups. In 2015, Missouri Lost and Found Paws reunited 3,759 pets in communities across Missouri, which includes all of the St. Louis Metro area.
How did you come to be known as the “lost and found guru”?
I am going to assume that it has something to do with my every waking hour outside of work being spent on posting and sharing lost/found animals, searching, hanging flyers for people, and running around the city scanning found animals or deceased animals found on the road. I’ve been known to flood Nextdoor and Facebook on a daily basis. I truly apologize to my non-animal friends for flooding their walls, but bless them for hanging in there.
What kinds of pets have you helped reunite with their owners?
While most have been dogs or cats, our group has also posted and shared many other animals, such as birds, turtles, horses, pigs, cows, and goats. I usually work on the dogs or cats, but I have been known to drive out and search for other missing pets.
How do you learn that a pet is lost?
Besides what is shared to our group or Nextdoor, I become your nosy neighbor. I seek out any animals posted elsewhere and search Facebook and Craigslist. I also receive private messages.
What part has Nextdoor played in helping you reuniting lost pets?
Your neighbors are a great source of information. They are your first pair of eyes. Nextdoor is an amazing tool that allows me to get the word out instantly to not only my neighborhood, but several others. For the most part, my neighbors are pet lovers and have been so wonderful that I received the Nextdoor Hero Award for the city of St. Louis.
What steps do you take to alert the neighbors of a missing or found pet?
If it is my area, I post to Nextdoor immediately, then it gets shared to our local groups as well. For neighbors without internet, I always suggest that flyers be hung up. I have also gone door to door.
Are there any lost pets reunions that are particularly meaningful?
An Akita went missing on Jan. 15. We flooded the area with flyers, moved to neon posters, and then nothing, only one sighting. On Feb. 23, I received a message about an Akita jumping over a fence. The fence that she jumped over belonged to a guy who works closely with animal rescue and has a microchip scanner. Of all fences to jump, she chose his. He scanned the dog, and it was a match.
Another one: We were working on a dog who had been lost for nine weeks. One neighbor was setting out food for him, and she noticed a cat coming around. She trapped the kitty, and it was a cat who had gone missing seven months prior.
What keeps you going?
Every single animal who is still lost or found and is waiting to go home, and also every single family who is out there looking. Animals can’t tell us if they are lost. Many people see animals roaming and think they are dumped, abused, or a random stray. While some are, my mind thinks: “Is this someone’s beloved pet?” I feel that every family deserves closure, preferably with a happy reunion. So my mission is to do what I can to offer closure.
Do you have any pets of your own?
Herbie, a 17-year-old Min Pin; Roscoe, a 13-year-old rescue Min Pin; Cooper, a 12-year-old Papillon; Alex, a 12-year-old Jack Russell; Skye, a 3-year-old rescue Chihuahua; and Red, a 9-year-old foster-rescue Min Pin.
Do you volunteer with any animal organizations?
Tina’s Tips for Reuniting Lost Pets With Their Humans:
Tina encourages all pet owners to microchip their animal, register it, and keep all info current. She also stresses the importance of collars and tags, with current contact information; collars with information sewn into them also help if tags get lost.
If you lose a pet, Tina says to:
- Put out food and articles of clothing that smell like you.
- Post on social media sites such as Nextdoor, Facebook, and Craigslist.
- Create flyers or place an ad in the local newspaper.
- Contact the correct authorities: your local police non-emergency line, animal control, and any nearby shelter.
- If someone claims to have your pet, meet at a safe location, such as the parking lot of your local police station.
If you see or find a lost pet:
- Don’t chase a wandering animal; instead, note direction of travel and take a photo to post on social media.
- Check the tags and collar for ID.
- Look for a tattoo and/or have the animal scanned for a microchip.
- Post to social media, hang flyers, place an ad in the local newspaper, and contact correct authorities, noted above.
- Never reveal identifying marks only an owner would know.
- Ask for proof of ownership if someone tries to claim the pet, such as vet records or photos.