If your dog or cat has run away, it can be a pretty traumatizing experience for you and your family. While you might be worried sick, keep in mind that your pet could also be in a bad state of mind. To prepare yourself for a pet running away or for help finding one that’s currently lost, read on for the first steps to take.
1. Contact Vets, Shelters, & Animal Control
When you realize your pet is missing, the first thing you want to do is contact all the animal agencies within a 60 mile radius of you. You might think that your pet wouldn’t be able to get that far, but you would be surprised by how quickly they can travel. Someone could also have spotted them and taken them to a shelter or vet they trust.
If there are no shelters in your vicinity, you can also contact your local police department. Whenever you talk to any agencies, provide them with an accurate description, the name on your pet’s ID tag, and a recent photo of your pet. Definitely let the police know if you think your pet was stolen.
2. Search the Neighborhood
Now that you’ve contacted all the right people, it’s time to search your neighborhood. Ask everyone you see if they’ve noticed a stray animal wandering around. Delivery people, neighbors, and trash collectors could all be a big help. Keep a photo of your pet with you to show, and if your pet has any unique characteristics or a special collar, be sure to mention them. Have information on hand to give to people so they know where and how to contact you.
3. Use Your Scent to Find Them
It might sound crazy, but if you tie down a piece of dirty laundry in places you know they like (a particular tree they stop by on every walk or your local dog park), you could find them waiting for you the next day. It’s a good idea to leave a crate or favorite toy in the area as well. Do not leave food, as it will attract other animals, but their water bowl could be helpful if they’re lost on a hot day.
4. Search the Internet
If you’ve microchipped your pet, there are many online databases you can search. Some of the most popular sites that compile pet data include:
- Microchip Registration Center
- Microchip Registry
- Home Again
There are also a number of non-profit and volunteer agencies that help owners who have lost their pets find them again. Some of these include Pet FBI and Helping Lost Pets. These provide you more resources than just your neighbors and local shelters.
Printing out flyers still works in this digital age. Post them around your neighborhood of course, but you should also place them in community centers, grocery stores, pet shops, and more. Any location that will allow you to post the flyer will raise visibility and keep your pet at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Here are the most important things to include on your flyer:
- Special Markings
- Your Contact Information
You can also pay to place ads in newspapers, magazines, and on radio stations.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Be prepared for any eventuality by ensuring that even your indoor pets have collars, microchips, and durable ID tags with up to date contact information. Train your pet to respond to their name so that they’ll come if called by a stranger. If you’ve lost a pet, the most important thing you can do is to always keep looking. There are cases of pets that have been lost for months or years that somehow find their way back to their owners. Dealing with the loss of a pet can be hard, but don’t give up hope!