Every pet guardian fears their beloved dog or cat becoming lost or missing. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), of pets entering an animal shelter, fewer than 2 percent of cats and 15-20 percent of dogs are ever reunited with their owners. Quick action will increase the odds of a happy reunion with your pet, so it will help to know what to do should you ever find yourself in that unhappy circumstance. Additionally, there are steps you should take now so you are prepared in case your pet becomes lost or missing.
Steps to take now:
- Be sure to have a current clear photo of your dog or cat.
- Have your pet spayed or neutered, which will reduce the urge to roam.
- Make sure your pet carries identification, ideally a collar and tag as well as a permanent form of identification such as a microchip or tattoo. Unlike a microchip which must be scanned, an ID tag will aid in immediate identification; however, because your pet can lose a collar, a permanent form of identification is also important. Of course, to be effective the identification information must be kept up to date.
- To reduce the risk that your pet will become lost, ensure that backyard fences are in good repair and use a leash when walking your dog.
Steps to take if your pet is missing:
- Fast action is imperative. As soon as your pet becomes missing, search the immediate area including your pet’s known favorite spots, inside and outside. Enlist family, friends and neighbors to help in the search. Bring your pet’s favorite noise-making toy or pet treats to help lure him back.
- Create “Missing” posters that include a clear photo, a description of your pet, where your pet was last seen, and your telephone number. Writing “Reward” in large letters will help create an incentive for people to actively search for your dog, but don’t specify the amount of the reward. Your signs should be large enough that they can easily be seen by drivers, and colorful signs are more eye-catching. Post the signs throughout your neighborhood and on public bulletin boards.
- Contact local shelters, animal control, rescue groups and veterinary offices to see if they have your missing pet. Leave a copy of your pet’s photo and your contact information at these facilities, and be sure to check back regularly.
- Post listings about your missing pet online and in your local newspaper, and scan your local paper for listings of “Found” dogs. Be sure to use your social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to aid in your search.
- Leave food and water outside your door, as well as something such as a toy or blanket that carries a familiar scent.
After you have located your pet:
- Don’t chase your pet! This may cause your dog to run away in fear, or he may run away thinking you’re playing a game. Try calling to him or luring him with his favorite treats.
- Once you have been reunited with your pet, be sure to remove your posters, online listings, and notify the shelters and other contacts that your pet has been located. Thank everyone who has helped in the search in case you should need their assistance again!