What to do When You've Lost a Pet
Losing a pet is scary, but there are many steps you can take to help them get back home safely. Below is a quick-tips guide to use for pets that have gone missing
What to do When Your Pet Goes Missing
As soon as you've noticed your pet has gone missing, begin taking steps to locate them as quickly as possible. Don't wait for them to come back; the quicker you act, the more likely you are to locate your pet.
• Walk the neighborhood - Most missing pets are found within 1 mile of their home, with 40% being found within 400 feet of their home. Ask neighbors if they've seen your pet, as someone close by may have taken them in. Ask for permission to check neighbors yards, crawlspaces and sheds especially if your missing pet is a cat.
• Post on social media and community pages - Getting the word out to the community as quickly as possible will allow others to recognize your animal as a lost pet if they see them roaming. If posting to Facebook, post on public pages and groups rather than just your personal page for the best chance of reaching the most people.
• Confirm microchip information is up to date - Microchips are crucial to quickly reuniting pets with their owners. If your pet is microchipped, call the company they're registered with to confirm your contact information is current.
• Report the animal as missing to your local humane society and/or animal control - These organizations often keep logs of lost and found pets, and may be able to match up found pet reports to get them home safe. Most county shelters/dog wardens will also accept stray dogs into their facility, and typically hold them for 3 days before adopting them out, transferring to another organization, or ending their life for space. Be sure to check back regularly, especially if your pet is not licensed or microchipped.
• Make a report with the sheriff's office - Call your local sheriff's office to make a lost pet report. Some people still utilize the sheriff's office to report pets as found.
• Post "Lost Pet" signs in the surrounding area - Make sure to include your phone number, a clear description of the pet, the date and location they went missing, and a photo of the pet if possible!
• Place a familiar item where they went missing - If your pet has a favorite bed, blanket, or plush toy, set it outside where they were last seen to encourage them to come back to the area for the familiar scent. If your pet is a cat, do not set out the litterbox as this can attract other animals to the area and keep your pet from coming home
Steps to take once your pet is back home
Once your pet is found, take these steps to ensure they are able to be returned to you safely and promptly.
• Ensure your pet is microchipped and that your contact information is up to date - A microchip is a permanent identification tag that is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted underneath the skin between the shoulder blades. Veterinarians and shelters have microchip readers that they use to find your pets unique microchip number to then call the company to locate your information. This is an important step because if your pets collar falls off or is taken off, a microchip can be a backup effort to locate you or to prove ownership. Low cost microchip services range from $10 to $25, and are sometimes free if a shelter or rescue is holding a microchip event.
• Place a license and/or tag on your pets collar - This step will allow anyone who finds your pet to contact you without having to take your pet to a shelter or veterinary clinic. A custom ID tag with a current number can be made at most pet stores or ordered online for a low cost, and dog licenses can be purchased from your county shelter and searched on your counties website for owner information. If your pet is a cat, ensure to use a breakaway collar so that the collar can safely come off if they get stuck to anything.
• Repair fences - If your pet escaped your yard, ensure that you fix all broken fence posts and holes prior to letting them back out into the yard without a leash. Don't use in ground-fences, as they often fail and can lead to your pet getting out or worse, getting hit by a car.
• Train recall - If your pet bolted away from you, training recall can be a great way to prevent them from running off. It can take time and effort, but the results will be worth it!