The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals posited that nearly 1 in 5 pets go missing after being scared by loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. The good news, however, remains that over 90 percent of lost dogs and 75 percent of lost cats eventually find their way home. If you’re one of those who had a pet go missing, you know just how devastating the issue is for pet lover. Here are some steps to take in finding a missing pet.
Steps to Finding a Missing Pet
- Make fliers. Although they may seem old-school, fliers with your missing dog’s recent photo, your phone number, and other critical information, as well as a reward will be helpful in finding a missing pet. Give a good description for others to recognize him, but hold back at least one identifying characteristic so that you can verify whether the person calling really has your missing dog or is just looking to make some money.
- Post fliers in different areas. Make sure you have enough fliers to post around the area where your dog was last seen, in grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, animal shelters, and even mailbox clusters. This way, your fliers will be noticed by more people in your neighborhood or in the community.
- Visit important institutions. These include your local animal shelters, humane societies, and rescue organizations. File a lost pet report at each of them as well as all the animal control offices within a 60-mile radius of your home. Remember to visit these places daily or as often as possible.
- Get the word out. In finding a missing pet, it is highly advisable that you inform veterinary clinics in your area regarding your lost dog. Many people who find lost pets take them to the vet or to another clinic close to where they were found. These veterinary clinics usually have chip readers that could confirm the identity of the animal via its microchip insert.
- Do your part in the lookout. Walk and/or drive around your neighborhood as well as the area where you last saw your pet as often as possible. Recruit your friends and family to do the same. At the same time, while you’re out, you may want to talk to your neighbors and passersby and inform them that you are looking for your missing dog. Hand them fliers with the details, if possible.
- Don’t forget your own home. Leave some of your pet’s favorite food and fresh water outside in case he finds his way back. You may also want to keep a humane trap that could hold your pet until you can check on him.
- Place ads to dispense information. Newspapers and online sites like Missing Pet Network, Petfinder, FindFido.com, Center for Lost Pets, and Craigslist all help in finding your pet faster. Same with what you post on the fliers, keep an important detail or two aside so that you can confirm whether or not the person calling with information really has your pet or is only taking advantage of your vulnerability as an owner.
- Do your share of research. Research online for animals that fit your pet’s description. It is possible that a person who has your missing dog could be trying to sell him for some cash.
- Don’t give up too quickly. Be aggressive in your search, and don’t give up when you don’t hear anything regarding your pet’s whereabouts after a few days. Some animals remain missing for several months before they are returned to their owners, so not all hope is lost!
- Practice self-care. Don’t lose sleep over your missing dog and don’t skip meals or leave your normal routines. Taking care of yourself will make you more effective while on a lookout for your missing pet, so eat healthy and stay healthy as best as you can.
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Facts About Recovered Pets
The ASPCA surveyed 1,000 pet owners to learn how they found their lost pets and how these are returned home. According to the survey, the most important steps to finding a missing pet included an immediate search, a run in the local neighborhood, as well as putting up fliers, using Internet resources to get an idea regarding their location, and by checking local shelters from the day they noticed their pet is missing.
Of all the pet owners that were surveyed, 15 percent said they lost a pet in the last five years, and 85 percent of those pets were said to be recovered.
Of the recovered dogs, 49 percent were found by their owners through neighborhood searches, 15 percent were found thanks through their ID tags and microchip, while 6 percent were found at a local shelter.
Using GPS Pet Monitoring as Prevention
Using a GPS pet tracker during high-risk events such as fireworks shows and backyard parties make it easier for owners to locate a lost pet. There are several GPS models to choose from, such as TrackiDog, that allow you to easily track your pet from your smartphone or computer. These nifty trackers can be clipped on your pets collars to help you track them faster and identify where they are in your neighborhood.
Some Pets Are Stolen
Having a pet stolen is even more devastating than losing one due to otherwise unseen circumstances. Dogs in particular are among the most common targets and are stolen for a variety of reasons. While the Cruella de Vil style of stealing dogs for coats is less of a problem these days, some dogs are taken to give as gifts, some mistaken for his or her own pet, and others are just sold personally or over the Internet for a quick buck.
Puppies and breeds that look expensive or unusual are most often taken by thieves, the most common being Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Pomeranians, shih tzus, bulldogs, and corgis.
Keep Your Dog Safe from Thieves
If you don’t want your pet to end up like the missing dog in Vancouver, who was only found after four long months of continuous search, here are important tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure that your fence is secure and that your gate is locked an secured when you leave your dog alone in the backyard.
- Never leave him outside when you’re away from home.
- Don’t allow your pet to roam free around the neighborhood, as this increases the chances of losing him or having him taken by thieves.
- Don’t leave your pet outside, unsupervised, even when he’s just in your own backyard. It takes only a few seconds for a thief to untie his leash and walk away with him.
- Never leave your dog in an unlocked parked car, with one of the windows down enough for him to be removed. In fact, avoid leaving your dogs in cars at all, this can be very dangerous and makes him prone to heatstroke.
- Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with a current ID tag at all times. Rather than putting his name on the tag, you may want to put “reward for return” instead so that thieves can’t call him by his name.
- Keep recent photos of your pets, preferably with different angles and in close-up so that you can use this as proof when necessary. An important tip for finding a missing pet is to store these with your proof of ownership and other documents such as his adoption papers and bill of sale, among others.