Posted by: Green Knight | January 29, 2011

Tracking Lost Pets and New Infections

I’m a member of Home Again Pet Rescues, which notifies me of pets that have gone missing in my area, based on radius, I think.  They give type, age, weight, color, microchip ID if any, etc.  When I get a notice I e-mail it to friends, veterinarians, groomers, etc., and post it on Facebook to pet-friendly restaurants in the neighborhood, in case they come looking for scraps.

A few weeks ago I helped reunite Oshi the husky with his humans.  He’d gone missing earlier that day, in fact while I was at an open house for Animal House Fund, a stray-cat rescue operation.  When I got home that evening, the e-mail, with photo, was waiting.  I did my blitz, and by morning the connection had been made.  Oshi had been found by people in the neighborhood, who took him to A Walk in the Park, a local groomer, who hung on to him for the moment.  Meanwhile, the nice folks at Hartford Coffee saw my post; the two businesses know each other, and put two and two together.  Nice to have a vibrant, progressive community.

Just last week, one of the workers at the coffeeshop took in a lost cat roaming the alley.  He knew the sound of a can-opener, so he wasn’t likely a feral.  She fostered him for a few days, and has now found him a new home.  Way to go, Hartford Coffee!

If you’d like to join the effort, sign up for free at, and thanks for caring!


If you read my review of Mark Pendergrast’s book Inside the Outbreaks a while back, you’d also be interested in Emerging Epidemics: the Menace of New Infections, by Madeline Drexler.  Originally published in 2002 as Secret Agents, it  was updated and reissued in 2010 with current information.  Another great read, it studies illnesses that are transmitted by insects and other vectors, food and water, and other humans.  It explores past pandemics like the 1918 flu and current ones like HIV.  It examines the intricacies of species-jumping viruses.  There’s a chapter on how many chronic diseases may actually be caused by microbes, and another on bioterrorism.

As an ex-government employee, what I found perhaps most interesting was the story on West Nile virus, and how infighting between agencies with overlapping jurisdictions can lead to inaction in the face of serious threats.  If the CDC and other health organizations had only listened to Tracey McNamara, chief pathologist at the Bronx Zoo, whose birds were dying right and left, West Nile might have been identified and addressed a few months sooner.  It seems the human-health folks automatically discounted the opinion of a female veterinarian…well, live and learn, if you’re lucky.

The book describes various efforts to track outbreaks, from government databases to Google Flu Trends.  The one I like is ProMED-mail, run by the International Society for Infectious Diseases.  This one is free, open to the public, and is a way for anybody to report unusual symptoms, suspicious clusters of respiratory ailments, and the like.  I signed up today: how about that, two subscriptions to recommend in one post!  You can check out ProMED-mail at

Safe & healthy pets, people, and planet, that’s my mission.



  1. From ProMED-mail:

    “Dr. Abdel Rahman Shahin, spokesman for the [Egyptian] Ministry of Health, announced that today [Wed 26 Jan 2011] discovery of a new
    human case of bird flu [avian influenza A/(H5N1) virus infection] has been identified. The case is a 7-year-old child resident in the Gharbia governorate. This is the 122nd case since the onset of the disease in Egypt in 2006, and the 4th confirmed case in 2011.”

    This is all they need right now, to be spreading H5N1 in all those big crowds of protesters, cops, and Army personnel. And with the people fleeing the country, the potential for spread is spooky. Gharbia’s about halfway between Cairo and Alexandria, along one of the two main roads.

  2. Just helped reunite another dog with her humanoids! My friend Linda e-mailed me about a lost 2-year-old husky in my neighborhood. I posted the info to folks in the area and to a local bar, and Facebook did the rest!!!

  3. More pet info: with HomeAgain, the pet must be microchipped, always a good idea. But for ones that aren’t, you can also join (free, of course), Lost and Pound, a similar service for any dog or cat, plus horses, rabbits, all sorts of stuff. Check them out at and sign up. I’ve so far gotten some that are within a bigger radius than I can handle, but I can always contact friends in those areas. I’ve also seen pretty good successes with the lost & found pets section on Craigslist. As a friend says, we domesticated them, so we owe them. Damn right!

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