RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) – A group of Rio Grande Valley residents wants the community to know, searching for your missing pet does not have to be an individual effort.
The American Humane Association reported that 10 million pets in the United States go missing every year. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, people are working together to make sure the pets that go missing locally are reunited with their owners.
Mission resident, Sylvia Brillas, lost her Husky on December 27 and was reunited with him on January 6, after he was turned into the animal shelter.
Barillas says even though she put up flyers in her neighborhood, the woman who found her dog would never have been able to contact her.
“It was not in my neighborhood, it was three miles away from me, so she had no way of contacting me or anything, and there was no way of me knowing that he was over there,” said Barillas.
During the time Barillas was searching for her dog, she turned to Facebook groups and various apps to try and locate him. She also frequently checked the shelters during the ten days her dog was lost.
A search of Facebook will result in multiple pages with thousands of members, where one can post their lost pet or post of a pet they have found to try and find the owner: RGV Lost and Found Pets, RGV Pet Alert Lost and Found, Lost and Found Pets of the RGV. The searches can even be localized to a specific city, for example, Brownsville, TX – Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets, and McAllen, TX – Lost Dogs, Cats & Pets.
Most recently, Barillas has been helping Houston resident, Alejandra Garcia locate her missing Chocolate Labrador, Penny, who went missing on Christmas Eve when she was scared away by neighbors popping fireworks.
“The next day which was Christmas, I still went around neighborhoods, still could not find her. That’s when I was like, ‘okay, let me get on social media.’ I was unaware of these groups, the RGV lost pets group,” said Garcia.
Garcia says once she found the groups, she posted pictures of Penny. While searching, she met Barillas and joined a WhatsApp group Barillas had created to keep in contact with others searching for lost pets.
“Sylvia came up with the idea of just doing a WhatsApp, you know since all of us are just driving around looking for one pet, why not look for others,” said Garcia.
Barillas has been visiting shelters for Garcia, since she has since had to return to Houston, and takes a collage of pictures with her of other missing pets she is keeping an eye out for.
Garcia says there have been no sightings of Penny on any of the social media groups or at shelters. She remains hopeful and is offering a $1,000 reward for the safe return of her pet. Penny was lost in Mission on 495 near Los Ebanos/ Inspiration Rd. Garcia can be reached at 346-405-1345.
Garcia and Barillas are hoping more people in the community will take part in the efforts to reunite pets with their owners.
Barillas says her group has found closure for three pet owners through her WhatsApp group.
“The community does have to be more vigilant, you know, not all the dogs you see on the street are stray dogs,” said Garcia.
Both Garcia and Barillas’s dogs did not have collars at the time that they got lost. Barillas advises having a collar on at all times and recommends getting them microchipped.
Barillas can be contacted at 956-207-7093.