Hurricane Katrina brought many people in to the animal welfare field, myself included, and was responsible for much more progessive action in caring for homeless and unwanted pets.
To many people, shelters have always existed, and were cold, dark and depressing places where no one wanted to go, especially to find a new pet. Shelters have changed over the years and most try to become more pleasant and friendly, with bright paint colors and photos of happy new owners with their new pets.
Another positive outcome was the microchipping of pets. These chips include your personal information and emergency contact information, plus the issuing shelter or veterinarian. The reasoning behind all this information is in case of a lost pet, you can prove which dog or cat is yours, and if found, any shelter or veterinarian's office can identify the owner.
When people relinquish an animal, most shelters require a driver's license or some form of identification. The animal is then scanned to see if there is a microchip. This is so the adoption shelter can be notified. Many shelters want their animals returned to them. They keep a detailed history and medical on the animal and may be able to place it in a new home with this information. Some agencies don't want their adopted animals returned and will let you know when you place a call to let them know the animal has been turned in.
Although I hope all shelters will do this, experience has taught me, at the cost of an animal's life, all shelters don't. I have his picture on my computer and it used to hang in my cubicle at work. He was a much-loved challenging dog, impossible to forget, pain in the you know what, but he loved each of us in his own way and I still miss him. The agency he was turned over to did not bother to notify us when he was turned in. His owner had contacted us and told us he had relinquished the dog but that he was a good dog and he knew we would find him a better home. We began trying to locate him but it was too late. He was euthanized before we found him.
To anyone who works at any office where there is a microchip scanner, please don't forget to check on the issuing agency. Without realizing it, you may save a life.