What Should I Do If My Pet is Lost?
By Robert Forto, PhD
Just last night I was teaching my canine obedience trainers course to a couple of great new dog trainers. We were discussing kennel management and what it takes to run a successful boarding kennel and the issue of losing a pet came up. I thought that this would be a great topic for a blog post.
Pets become lost for a variety of reasons: they may escape from home through an open door or window, or climb over or dig under a fence, they may bolt away while on a leash, escape from a car window, or become lost during a disaster like a tornado or hurricane, and it is not uncommon for pets to be stolen out of their yards.
Prevention – Just in Case
Keep a current picture of your pet handy and make a list of local telephone numbers in advance. It’s easier than trying to look up numbers or think of where to call after your pet is lost and you are frantic. Include the local animal control officers, both in your town and those surrounding yours, veterinary offices, shelters and pounds.
Identify your pet. It’s best to have a combination of a collar and tag along with either a tattoo or microchip. Be sure to register the microchip number with the manufacturer so your pet can be matched to you. Also, be sure that if you move that you update your information for the microchip. It doesn’t do your pet any good if you lived in Georgia and moved to Colorado last year and your pet is found and they try to locate you in your old home.
Fit your pet’s collar tight enough so that it won’t slide over his or her head. You should be able to put two or three fingers under it (so it is not too tight). Most cat collars now come with either an elastic or breakaway feature to protect them from being caught on an object.
If Your Pet Goes Missing
• Make flyers and include the pet’s photo. Provide a good description of the pet and include name, breed, age, color and markings and any special identifying characteristics. You should also list your contact information and the date and area where the pet was last seen. Place flyers all over the neighborhood or the area where the pet was last seen and on community bulletin boards.
· Call all the numbers on the contact list. Let them know your pet is missing. Drop off flyers to them so they have the photo. Call the microchip company to inform them the pet is missing.
· Contact veterinarians, training schools, grooming shops, etc. in the area around where your pet was last seen.
· Post a notice on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, especially if you have a lot of local “friends” on your network.
· Check in with the local humane society or shelter.
· Alert neighbors or residents in the area.
· Call any local radio stations that run public service announcements.
· Place an ad in your local paper in the lost and found column.
· Visit any place the pet might return to – a former home, old neighborhood or previous owner for example.
Once your pet is found, do not forget to notify those you have alerted that the search is off. At Denver Dog Works people will often drop off flyers for pets that are lost and we help them in any way that we can.
In terms of training, as the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worse than a pound of cure. In that if your dog has been trained and can perform a proper and instantaneous recall, if he does escape you can have him “Come” when called. The secret to this is that you have to be more interesting than whatever caused your dog to run away in the first place. If you have any question regarding training you can always give us a call at Denver Dog Works at 303-578-9881.