There are few things pet parents fear more than losing their beloved dog or cat. It can happen though, and there are steps you can take to protect your pet and get them home quickly and safely if they ever wander off.
ID and Microchip Your Pet
Think of this as your pre-game strategy: when your pet’s safe with you, make sure you ID and microchip your pet.
Even if your pet spends most (or all) of their time indoors, they should still wear an ID tag at all times. The ID tag should have your telephone number on it, as well as any other pertinent information (for example, if the pet needs medication; this may encourage the person who finds your pet to return them more quickly).
Also consider getting your pet microchipped. A microchip is a device about the size of a grain of rice that contains a unique ID number. After the microchip is injected into your pet, you will register them online using that ID number. If the pet is ever returned to a vet’s office or shelter, a quick scan will reveal their information. Remember that your pet’s microchip is only as good as the information it contains, so if you move or change your phone number, be sure to update it in the system.
Okay, but when happens if your pet gets lost? Follow these steps:
Step 1: Start the Search
The moment that you realize your pet is missing, start searching the house (hiding places like closets and under the bed), the yard, and the surrounding streets. Shake a treat jar or bag. Use a whistle and/or your recall command.
Bring along a recent picture of your pet and ask neighbors and passersby if they’ve seen them. Ask to check in your neighbors’ yards, sheds, garages, under porches, etc.
Step 2: Call Shelters and/or Police
If you don’t locate your pet after conducting an initial search, it’s time to call your local shelters, animal control agencies, and rescue groups. If there are none of those in your area, call the police instead. Let them know that your pet is missing and check in daily to see if your pet has turned up. Stop by with a photo that they can keep on record or post on a “missing pets” bulletin board.
Step 3: Put the Word out via the Internet
Send out an e-mail to local friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues, and ask them to pass the info along to anyone else they know in the area. Make a digital “missing pet” flyer and post it to social media, and search for local “missing pet” Facebook pages or groups where you can post your pet’s info.
Step 4: Create a Flyer
Create a flyer that contains a recent photo of your pet, their breed, color, age, any unique markings, any health issues they may have, your name, and your telephone number. You could also include your vet’s number. Once your flyer is ready to go, ask friends and family to come along and help plaster the neighborhood. Attach the flyer to lamp posts and trees and drop it off at local pet stores, dog parks, shelters, veterinary offices, schools, coffee shops, and grocery stores. And remember: always be sure to ask before posting a flyer.
Step 5: Don’t Lose Hope!
Losing a pet can be a stressful ordeal, but don’t give up! Many pets are safely returned home thanks to their ID tags, microchips, and the perseverance of loving pet parents. If you work quickly and cover lots of ground (both physical and digital), you could be welcoming your pet back home sooner than you think.
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