THEY’RE LOST! WHAT DO I DO?
Some of this information was included in an article written for Mom & Caregiver Magazine here in London. It was was created by our team at our pet clinic to help give you tips and direction at a very stressful time. If you have read the Mom & Caregiver Magazine article, look to the bottom to the section called “Additional Thoughts” as we continue to add additional tips as we come across them. Good luck and know you are in our thoughts as each of us knows the pain and heartache as we have experienced it too.
There is nothing more scary for a pet parent than when their little one gets loose and is lost and alone in a world they do not fully understand. There are many ways this can happen, being scared and pulling out of their collar, a screen gets loose, a door is accidentally left open or they manage to get out of a back yard. Whether they are a cat or dog, the feelings are the same and the desire to get them home quickly is overwhelming.
Here are some tips to help keep them safe and sound, at your side where they are loved and protected.
Preventing the loss of your pet
Review your backyard for escape points
Are fences in good repair. No holes under or through the fence. Also make sure there is nothing near the fence that your dog/cat can jump onto and use to get over the fence.
Nothing beats good training
Training classes help call your dog back, manage their excitement when needed, helps them manage anxiety and trust you so they do not bolt.
Make sure any collar fits snugly on your dog to be sure they can’t pull out of it if they get scared. If you have a cat, use a breakaway collar to avoid strangulation if they get caught on anything.
Limit their time alone outside
Try not to leave your pet outside unobserved as they may find the hole you missed in the fence when you aren’t looking.
Don’t leave your pet tied up in a public place
They can get spooked into running away or be stolen easily.
Things that can help if they are lost
Get your furry family member microchipped and/or tattooed. It is a permanent way to have a positive ID if they are ever lost.
Place contact information on their collar
Have a collar with an ID tag that includes your pet’s name, their license and rabies tag and a method of contacting you. London’s licencing program is a great way to ensure if they are found they are brought home quickly.
What to do if your pet/family member gets lost
Contact local animal shelters
File a lost pet report with every shelter or animal control agency within a 50km radius of your home and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible.
Search your neighbourhood
Walk or drive through your neighbourhood several times each day. Ask neighbours, letter carriers, and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Hand out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found.
Use the Internet
The Internet is quickly becoming the tool of choice. Lost or found, they may be here. Check these sites out:
- London Lost Pets – This website emails all shelters and rescue groups in London and area with a copy of your alert. They also post on Facebook, Twitter and Kijiji, as well as the LLP website. One post does it all.
- Helping Lost Pets – This website emails all local current members (including listed organizations) a copy of your alert.
- Kijiji – A very public forum that many people check regularly.
Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections, at pet supply stores, and other locations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, colour, and any special markings. When describing your pet, leave out ONE identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it.
Consider using your social network to share a poster with their friends getting the word out.
Be wary of pet-recovery scams
When talking to a stranger who claims to have found your pet, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly before you offer any information. If he does not include the identifying characteristic you left out of the advertisements, he may not really have your pet. Be particularly wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money for the return of your pet for things such as transportation.
Don’t give up your search
Most of all do not give up, there are many wonderful stories of pets that have been lost for months reunited with their parents.
The Worn Sweater Trick
While the jury is still out on this tip, we have seen it “work” so want to offer it up as an option. If your little one goes lost immediately bring to the area where you feel they went missing a piece of clothing that you wear a lot. Your favourite sweatshirt, sweater or jacket and place it on the ground in the area. If you can not stay, leave a note describing what you are doing on it so no one picks it up. Then come back in a couple of hours and hopefully your furry family member has caught the scent and is waiting on it for you to return. Remember they love you and your smell and only want to come home.
Missing Pet Partnership is an interesting website out of Seattle that offers behaviour related actions. Scroll to the bottom and click the links for cats, dogs, etc. You can then look at their thoughts around a friendly dog versus a fearful dog and what that might mean for your search efforts.
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