What do you do when your pet is missing?

Let face it, even the most careful person might find themselves faced with looking for their lost pet.  Losing a lost pet can be an emotional disaster.  So, we should prepare for losing our pet as we would any disaster:

Always keep a current photo of your pet on your cell phone.

Keeping an image close will later help in creating flyers and showing people what your pet looks like.  With the interbreeding of animals, breed descriptions are becoming less and less helpful in describing a pet.  We live in times where most pets are described as “pitbull mix.”

Microchip your pet.

As much as I dislike microchipping as a means of identification, it might be the main course of action in getting a pet returned.  When you move, make sure you update your registration with the microchip company.  Always remember that a microchip is invisible to anyone who might find your pet.

Always keep a collar and identification on your pet.

Identification on a pet is the surest method of getting a pet returned.  Having spent many years working in an animal shelter, I know that very few pets are picked up wearing any form of identification.  Make sure the information is current.  Do not depend on the dog’s license alone, many City Clerk maintain ineffective records.

If your pet becomes lost:

Immediately call your local animal control/shelter. 

They can field calls that come in, if someone calls them about finding your pet.  One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is never going to their local animal shelter to look for their lost pet.  Many finders of lost pets will take the pet to the shelter to register that they found the pet.  So if they don’t surrender the pet to the shelter, they will have provided a record to shelter personnel that they have found the pet.  Those found reports are frequently posted on a bulletin board in the lobby of the animal shelter.  Visit your animal shelter daily.

Check lost and found boards on the web.

Many animal shelters will post on their website images of the animals that have been delivered to them.  Many manage a lost and found board where people can post finding a lost pet.  Many communities get carried away with lost and found websites, so check with your shelter to see if there is more that one in your area.  It is not uncommon to have a half dozen websites serving a community and you’ll need to check each one.

Post lost flyers in your neighborhood.

You are more likely to find your cat in posting within a block of your home.  Dogs travel greater distances.  Many grocery stores provide an area in which people can post announcements. Fliers can be found online, here is a random one that I found.

Notify people.

If your pet is microchipped, notify the microchip  company that your pet is lost and use that call to confirm that your contact information is up to date.  Most to animal Facebook groups in your area that your pet is lost.  Notify area veterinary clinics of your missing pet.  The classified section of your local newspaper will have an area to post for lost property (animals).  Many animal shelters have software systems that will  allow you to register your microchip with them, so in the even that your pet is ever brought in, you will be recognized as the owner.

Never give up.

There are countless incidents in which a lost pet is returned weeks, month, or years later.  Don’t give up hope.

When Fools Dive In

I was browsing the news feed for Google when I saw a headline: “Saving a dog from the dogcatcher.”  The feed was from reddit where people owning a laundry posted a sign (I am printing it as it reads): “NOTICE ‘STRAY DOG’ INSIDE THIS LAUDRY SHOP.  We are currently saving this innocent dog from the dog catcher since they will be put to SLEEP/KILL if they’ve been caught.  We understand that you will feel uncomfortable with this situation and you are welcome to go to another laundry.  Thank you!”

This bothers me on several fronts.  The store owner is making several assumptions: the owner of the dog will just happen to go inside this laundry and identify his dog, and of course the obvious, the animal shelter should be the first place a person goes to find their lost dog.  I am not even going to address the idea that all stray dogs are put to sleep, I don’t know where this is; but it is unlikely.

I’ve always hated the terms “dogcatcher,” and “pound” until I moved to places that have it formally written into their code.  The words commutate meaning that may and may not exist.  At some point we just have to get over it.

I would have felt better about the posting if the dog’s finder had done more that post a sign (with commentary) on their door.  We have other ways to communicate: call the animal shelter, post a found ad in the newspaper, and even post on Facebook (I know, it is a shock that I would suggest that, but we are trying to get a dog home), and you can post flyers in the neighborhood.

Anytime something like this happens, I also post the negligence of the owner who has no exterior identification showing.  Let’s face it, most people are not smart enough to take a dog to a veterinarian or the shelter to have it checked for a microchip.  I have always  called microchips the worst secondary form of identification.  They are better than nothing, but just barely. 

Just as there are responsibilities of pet owners to keep their pet from getting lost, there are responsibilities of people finding pets.  It is not enough to take in a dog and make little or no effort to find the dog’s owner.