Originally created 04/28/00

Site would unite pets, owners



The woman who helped get Beaufort's YMCA program off the ground almost a decade ago has a new mission.

Actually, Lisa Moore Anderson has several new missions, with a new husband and an 8-month-old daughter who joins the nine children the Clearwater, Fla.-based couple have between them.

But Mrs. Anderson, who was back home in Beaufort this past weekend to attend a family wedding, has turned the enthusiasm she generated to start the local Y program, along with her ex-husband actor Tom Berenger, to saving family pets.

Mrs. Anderson and her new husband, Roy Anderson, founder of Happy Paws specialty pet foods, have founded the Saving Pets Lives campaign, a nationwide effort to link missing pets with their owners.

"We've all had experience with the situation or have friends who have," Mrs. Anderson explained. "A family pet runs away and everyone starts looking. You circulate photos. You ask the neighbors. You visit the local shelters."

But statistics, according to the Andersons, show the average dog wanders around lost for one to two weeks before even being picked up and brought to a shelter. For an average cat, the period is closer to one or two months.

"By that time, the owner may have given up hope and the shelter employees, who receive inquiries about lost pets every day, have forgotten all about that specific cat or dog," she said.

Statistics show that 60 percent of American households have pets and, unfortunately, a number of those have lost their pets in circumstances that might have been reversed if there had been a way to get the information about that pet out, according to the couple.

Mr. Anderson's interest in animal welfare sparked the creation of his specialty pet foot lines three years ago. His interest expanded to the issue of animal euthanasia when he learned that of the 110 million pets in North America, approximately 77 million get lost and then are euthanized at a shelter because the owners cannot be located.

"Those types of numbers are putting a tremendous strain on shelters who already are facing limited resources," he said. "Across the board, none of the shelter personnel we talked to favor euthanasia as a solution, but the majority have no alternatives."

By providing computers and digital cameras to animal shelters throughout Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, the Saving Pets Lives campaign hopes to provide shelter workers with the tools needed to feed an Internet Web site with photos of animals thought to be missing pets.

If the shelters could reduce the number of animals euthanized, there would be more budget available to provide free spaying programs for animals being adopted, the couple contend.

Dorothy Aschenbrenner, founder of the Have-A-Heart Animal Rescue program, now located in Walterboro, enthusiastically endorsed the program as soon as she heard about it.

"I think it's an excellent idea," she said. "Sometimes animals are brought in and you just know they're someone's beloved, well-cared-for pet but there's no way of knowing where that someone is."

Anita Snyder, executive director of the Hilton Head Humane Association, agreed the concept gives hope to those concerned about the care and treatment of animals.

"Any program that can reunite pets with their owners is a wonderful thing," she said.