It happens to many of us at one point or another in our pet-owning lives. Our cat or dog goes missing due to an open door or gate, a hole in the yard fence, or just plain getting lost on a hike or other excursion. It’s a scary time for those of us who treasure our pets, but it is often possible to recover them unscathed with quick, affirmative action.
One of the best things you can do to ensure that your pet doesn’t get lost and stay lost is to provide them with some form of identification. Microchipping can be done by your veterinarian, with your pet’s ID sent to a central registry. Tattoos (most effective on the underbelly/groin area where there is little hair) can be done on pets of any age painlessly with a tattoo pen that, at worst, gives a slight tickling sensation.
If you have purchased a purebred registered cat or dog, at least one of the above methods will have been used by the breeder to identify your pet for registration purposes. However, it is possible to do microchip implants or tattoos on virtually any pet at minimal expense and is one of the most fool-proof methods of identifying your cat or dog.
It is also a good idea to ensure that your pet has a collar with name and contact information attached.
Conduct a search of the area
If your pet goes missing, thoroughly search the area where you lost him. Talk to people in the area where you think your buddy is lost and ask them to keep an eye out. Be sure to leave your contact number with anyone you converse with. It’s a good idea to search at night as well as during daylight hours. Sometimes a lost pet will go into hiding if it is scared but will be more amenable to coming when called when the world around him has settled down for the night and is quieter.
Make posters with photos (preferably in colour) of your lost buddy and include his name, date lost, area lost and your contact information so that if anyone spots your pet they can get in touch quickly. Post the flyers heavily throughout the area so that they won’t be missed.
Contact shelters, humane societies, and by-law enforcement
Almost everyone remembers to contact animal by-law officers, humane societies, and animal shelters. But it is a good idea to also visit the shelters on a daily basis. Some staff and volunteers may not be very well versed in the various breeds of dogs or cats and may be telling you that your pet isn’t in their care when it is actually sitting right there looking at them. Take your flyers into these facilities as well and ask to have them posted.
You should also contact all veterinary offices in the area where your pet is thought to be lost, and take your flyers into them for posting on their bulletin boards and staff boards.
It is also a good idea to contact your local police station – after all, their officers are all over their territory, all the time.
Consider a classified ad or create posters
If your pet is missing for any length of time, consider putting an ad in the local newspaper. A display ad with his photo will have more impact than a Lost Pets classified ad.
Offer a substantial reward, which may induce folks to look just a little harder and a little longer for your pet. Be sure to include the amount you are offering on your posters.
Use social media
Finally, make full and efficient use of social media. There are many organizations that are set up specifically to help find lost pets, and they can be a real boon in your search. The word is spread far and wide and is often shared many times, which may help you recover your canine or feline buddy. Again, be sure to include colour photos of your pet, along with a description of him or her. Photos showing quirky markings or other features can be helpful in identifying pets running at large. It is a good idea to have colour photos of your pet from all angles on file so if your worst nightmare happens and your pet disappears, you can use them to help relocate him. Visuals are much more powerful than text in these instances and, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Hopefully, you will never have to deal with looking for a lost pet, but if you do the suggestions above may help you find him quickly.
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