One of the worst things that can happen to a pet owner is for their furry companion to get out and be so scared that he runs and can’t be found. Most people are very devoted to and protective of their pets, and when this horrible situation happens, the stress and worry of the dangers can be overwhelming. Thunderstorms and loud, explosive fireworks are the two most common causes for pets to be separated from their loved ones. It’s prudent to be extra cautious in times of stormy weather and around holidays where fireworks are common.
Most of us take lots of pictures of our pets, and these days, have plenty of them on our phones. If you don’t, be sure to have current photos of your pets handy, with which to create a flyer, just in case the unthinkable happens.
When a cat gets out, more often than not, they don’t go very far and are likely hiding nearby, praying you will find them and get them safely back indoors. The anticipation and excitement of ‘getting outside’ usually changes to fear and dread, with loud noises, fast moving cars and other things they aren’t used to. But, when a dog gets out, the excitement, curiosity and all of the new scents keep him moving.
Lost cats and dogs that are not ‘street savvy’ need to be found as soon as possible. If your pet is missing, there are things you must do to have the best chance of having your pet returned safely to you:
- Don’t waste any time, begin your search as soon as you notice the animal is missing. Ask everyone, neighbors, children, mail carriers. Show them a photo. Even if they haven’t seen him, they may be willing to keep an eye out for him. Check the place he was last seen in early mornings and late nights. Take a flashlight and treats, and call his name repeatedly. Talk to him. Your voice will comfort him.
- Create a flyer and post it in front of your house first, then all around your neighborhood. People who find a lost dog or cat will often walk or drive around the area trying to find the pets owner. Title the flyer LOST PET, include where he was last seen, a current picture and your phone number.
- Take the flyer to veterinarians and other businesses in your area. Ask them to post it or at least keep it in case someone comes to them asking about a found animal. Put a Lost Pet ad in the newspaper.
- Post your flyer on Facebook and ‘tag’ animal welfare advocates to help share with a wider audience. If you are not on Facebook, find someone who is, and get the flyer posted. Social media works wonders for lost pets. Check ‘found’ pet sites, and look for pets ‘available for adoption’.
- If your missing pet is an indoor cat, put her litterbox outside where she can smell her own scent, and know where her home is. Don’t clean it first.
- Go personally to the animal services facility in your county, and give them a copy of your flyer; then go back every day. Many pets look similar, and it may be difficult to distinguish yours from another pet. Ask to see all the animals, every time you go there. Only you will know for sure.
- Never give up hope. Pets are amazingly resilient and resourceful. Don’t stop looking.
Microchipping your pet is one of the best things you can do to make sure that if your pet gets lost, he or she will be returned to you. It is important to update your contact information for the microchip if your address or phone number changes. However, microchips are not without risk. They are a foreign object that may migrate to other areas. Have your vet check the location of the chip at each visit. Pet owners must weigh the benefits and risks.
Spay or neuter your pet to curb ‘wandering’, as well as preventing unwanted litters. Dogs and cats can be sterilized as early as 4 months of age-the age at which they can start reproducing. The drive to seek a mate will be eliminated as will the need to wander.
That’s What Friends Are For, Inc. is on Facebook, and is happy to share information about lost pets, and network to find them and reunite them with their families. There are many individuals and groups that are more than willing to help. Don’t give up. Your furry family member is counting on you to find them and get them safely back in your loving arms. And, that’s truly what friends are for!