Of course, there are always unexpected occurrences that catch us off-guard, and a pet can be lost when those things happen. But the best line of defense in protecting your pet from becoming lost is simply to be present, to be aware, and to react quickly.
Luckily, I’ve never had a dog go missing. Well, not for more than a few minutes anyway. But it seems a lot of pets have gone missing lately, so I think it’s a subject we should talk about to help you prepare for a scenario no pet owner ever wants to face.
Below are a few tips about ways to protect your pet from being lost, and ways to find him quickly if he does go missing.
1) Never, ever, ever leave your pet outside unattended. I mean, not even for a minute. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but the truth is, dogs can slip away in the blink of an eye, and even a minute alone is too long. Staying with your pet will also prevent it from being stolen from your yard. Pet theft is happening more and more, it seems.
2) When walking your pet, be sure to securely attach the leash or harness. I’ve heard too many horror stories about pets that became lost when their leash or harness wasn’t properly attached. When you’re getting ready to walk your dog, take a few extra seconds to make sure everything is secure. Be sure to invest in a quality collar and leash, as well. This can literally make the difference between life and death for your pet.
3) Walk your pet in safe, well-lit public places. This is especially true if you’re walking alone. Avoid being confronted by a dangerous stranger by being aware of your surroundings and not putting yourself in situations where a pleasant dog walk could turn tragic.
4) Be sure your pet’s collar includes an identification tag. The tag should include the pet’s name and your telephone number. If there’s room for your address, include that too. I also take a Sharpie marker and write my phone number on the inside of the dog’s collar, as well as on the leash.
5) Microchip your pet and keep the information current. Microchipping is inexpensive, and it can be the difference between recovering your pet and losing it forever. If you move or change your phone number, be sure to update the information on the chip. Outdated information is completely useless.
6) If your pet is missing, call your local animal shelter. Every single day. Don’t call just once and, after being told your pet is not there, never bother to call again. I’ve seen this end in tragedy more than once. Call the shelter every single day, and actually go to the shelter and have a look for yourself at least once a week.
7) Canvas the neighborhood where the pet went missing as soon as possible. Get as many people involved in the search as you can. Just like with a missing person, the first few hours after a pet goes missing are the best time to find him. Call out to the pet, and take some bait with you. A favorite noisy toy or a shaken box of treats might entice your pet to come running back to you.
8) Place flyers all over the area where you believe your pet went missing. Make sure the flyers include a good, clear photo of your pet, the pet’s name, and your contact information. Check the flyers every single day to make sure they haven’t been destroyed by weather or torn down by vandals. I also highly suggest giving a flyer to your postal carrier and newspaper deliverer, as they are out and about in the neighborhood everyday and have increased opportunity to be on the look-out for you.
9) Put a sign in your own front yard, indicating that you have lost a pet. This will ensure that your neighbors are aware of your missing pet, including those who might not know her. If they see your sign, and then notice an unfamiliar pet in the neighborhood, they’ll know who to contact.
10) Contact local veterinarians about your missing pet. They may know of other local resources to help with your search for your pet.
And a bonus tip:
11) Use Craigslist, local newspaper lost and found, Facebook, Twitter, and other source you can think of to communicate information about your missing pet.
Do you have suggestions of other ways to prevent pets from becoming lost, or tips on how to find a lost pet? Please share in comments below!