I'm very pleased to say that their response was swift. As noted, I emailed Merck the other day. I got a response today. They had tried to call, but I ignore numbers unfamiliar to me. You can thank telemarketing for that.
Sandra Hunter sent me a very kind and patient email, which is also very much appreciated. She explained to me that pets will always remain in the database, even if you are not a paid user. However, there are added benefits to being a paid user.
She gave me a copy of a graphic with the information on it. I had to laugh because I cannot easily read it. It's too small. Was that sarcasm? lol! I'm kidding. It was just an odd but amusing coincidence.
I tried enlarging it and it's a bit pixelated but I think I have it. My comments are between [ ] brackets. Let's take a look:
- 24/7 Lost Pet Specialists - The HomeAgain lost pet hotline is staffed by trained specialists waiting to help you conduct your search. [I'm not really sure what they actually do. Do they advise you on what to do? I'm not sure how they can help you search for a pet.]
- Rapid Lost Pet Alerts - Dedicated Recover Specialists send real-time lost pet alerts to HomeAgain veterinarians, shelters and pet rescuers. [Note that they specify those that are only HomeAgain providers; a shelter that uses a different company would not be notified. That's probably standard, but it's important for you to be aware. There should be a cooperative service for all services.]
- Personalized Lost Pet Posters - Click and print your Lost Pet Poster on the HomeAgain website and begin your search immediately. [I only wish it had a way for people to tear off your number or email address to call you; though with cell phones, maybe that's not as much a problem as it used to be.]
- Lost Pet Recovery Network - A nationwide network of more than 1 million volunteer PetRescuers keep a lookout for lost pets. [On first glance, this sounds like the coop service I mentioned above, however a Google Search reveals that there is no such official network. I've a feeling that this network is the email list HomeAgain has that lets you sign up and be alerted when a pet is lost in your area.]
- Travel Assistance for Found Pets - Your HomeAgain membership covers up to $500 in pet airfare when your dog or cat is found over 500 miles away. [I'm not up on the cost for pet flights, the last time I did it was in 2000. However, 500 miles isn't very far so I feel this is a good deal.]
- 24/7 Emergency Medical Hotline - Telephone assistance from licensed ASPCA veterinarians. [Here's one I knew nothing about. I love this added benefit!]
So there it is, that's what the yearly membership provides you. Make your own informed decision, but if you ask me, I like the Rapid Lost Pet Alerts, the Travel Assistance and the Emergency Medical Hotline. I think the Lost Pet Specialists may be a good thing for people who are panicked and aren't sure what to do next.
My advice would also be to not fully rely on the Rapid Lost Pet Alert. Remember, only a portion will be notified in your area. Call all of them, and drop off posters, to include rescue groups. Rescues are often forgotten about. We think of shelters right away, but not rescue groups. Many found pets are dropped off at rescues. Go door to door and don't think anything about asking friends and neighbors to help. Take posters with you.
Well, I digress. I just think of how devastated I would be if any of my babies went missing. I love my pets more than anything else.
Good luck to you all!