"The mandatory stay period absolutely helps people find their pets," Theisen said. "Almost every shelter has a strayhold or stay period in hopes that an owner will surface for an animal. Shelters have a good bit of success returning pets to their families. It's a very rare occurrence of the family showing up too late."
But Theisen says it's also rare that families will actually be able to track down their pets. Often, pet-owners are looking in the wrong place, or they haven't cast a wide enough net. That's exactly what happened with Terri Sandu, an Ohio woman who recently lost her dog in a similar scenario to Torres. Sandu called her local pound after her Rottweiler, Harley, jumped the fence in her family's backyard, but did not contact any local rescue groups -- one of which had been sheltering Sandu's dog, before they adopted her to a new family.
There are a number of ways to avoid devastating situations like Torres and Sandu's -- precautions that Theisen encourages every pet-owner to take, despite the rarity of such scenarios. "What we all want is to prevent these scenarios from happening," Theisen said. "You can do a lot of things to be reunited from your pet, should you be separated, but there are also a lot of ways to not ever be separated. First and most obvious is visible ID tag and collar, worn all the time, indoors and outdoors. Make sure tags have cell phone number so you can actually be reached no matter what, because that really is an emergency." Microchipping is also a key component to keeping pets safe, she said, and she suggests that all pet-owners get their animals microchipped immediately upon adoption.