It’s every pet owner’s nightmare: Your dog or cat is missing from the yard or dashes out the door, and you don’t know where they have gone. This could happen to even the safest pet owners. Before you panic, remember that there are steps that can be taken to recover your furry friend. Also, there are many ways to increase your chances of reuniting with your pet if the necessary precautions are made. Below is a list of what to do before and after losing your pet.
Precautions to Take Before Losing a Pet
Collars with an ID tag
Collars with an ID tag are recommended for EVERY pet, even indoor pets. The ID tag should have the owners name and current phone number. If you are traveling with your pet, keep your cell phone number on an additional tag for your pet. Just remember that collars can be removed or lost. Anyone can find a dog and replace their collar. To ensure your pet’s security, additional steps should be taken.
Microchip and Register Your Pet
Pet microchips are the best means for permanent identification. When an animal shelter finds a lost dog, the first thing they do is scan for a microchip. Inserting a microchip is a painless procedure and, once inserted, the chip will never expire. Be sure to register your pet’s microchip in the manufacturer’s database with your contact information. If you do not do this, microchipping is fruitless. Also, remember to keep your information up to date. Should your pet be picked up by animal control officials, they will be able to access this information and contact you.
Keep current pet pictures
Take a photo of your pet next to you with your cell phone and keep it current on your computer. If you don’t have a digital camera, most photo development stores can put your photos on a disk for you. If your pet ever gets lost, you’ll have a photo to show, post and print. Photos can make a HUGE difference in getting your pet back faster.
Know the local animal control agency
Learn where your local shelter is located. Keep in mind, there may be several branches. Pets can travel far, or are picked up by kind strangers who take them home – on the other side of town. Knowing all of local shelter locations in advance can help out in a frantic situation.
What to do if you lose your pet
Carefully check the house
Most pets like to hide or sleep in unusual places. Check under beds, bulky furniture and anywhere else he or she might be. Shaking a food dish or a squeaky toy might help get their attention.
Contact the local animal shelter
If you happen to be away from home and lose your pet, this step would especially apply to you. File a lost pet report with every shelter and animal control facility within a 60-mile radius of the dog’s last location and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible. Even if they don’t have your pet at the moment, make them aware of the situation and to contact you if they happen to hear of anything. Be sure to check their website occasionally. If there are no animal shelters in the area, contact the local law enforcement agency.
Flyers are a great way to raise awareness. Describe the dog so an average person would recognize him if he saw him. Include identifying information about him like his collar, dog tags, tattoo, identifying features like scars or unusual colorations, or microchip ID number. A reward might motivate people to search but it is not recommended to put an exact amount.
Be wary of “found” calls!
At this devastating time, you are vulnerable and there are unethical people who may try to take advantage. If someone says they found your dog respond with an incorrect description to see if they fall for it. For example, ask if the dog has a marking on his or her right leg (but doesn’t) if they answer yes….you’re most likely involved in a scam
Many vets, neighbors, shelters and rescuers have found that the fastest way to place an animal back with its family is by following info on tags and microchips. Be sure that your dog is wearing a tag at all times, also be sure to microchip and register your dog.