As a pet owner, this may or may not have happened to you. The door opens for just a second and your puppy or kitten scoots out so fast that it’s a blur when you look up. Your heart sinks to your stomach, your mind races on what to do next and your only thought is “How will I get my baby back home?” That is such a scary place to be. Your pet may have a collar and tags or not and it may be micro-chipped or not. But nothing makes you feel more helpless than the loss of a dog(or cat). This can happen to our older pets as well. They usually stick around in the yard, simply going about their business when suddenly something catches their attention and in a split second they are gone. We turn around and… here comes that sinking feeling. Your pet is lost. For the purpose of this post, your pet is a dog.
The first instinct is to canvas the neighborhood and ask everyone you see if they have noticed a dog on the loose . Going door-to-door can take a lot of time, but it will get the word out. You could have someone posted at home in the event your wayward dog comes home on it’s own. Or maybe someone finds your dog, reads the name tag and calls your number. But what if the tags somehow snapped off the hook? What could happen then? When enough time has gone by, there are several options you can take. Post pictures of your dog on every telephone pole and stop sign in a radius from your home. Call your vet and other local vets to see if anyone has reported a found dog. Check with Animal Control or the local Humane Society to see if a dog fitting your description has been picked up. All these actions can bring you closer to finding your dog. If your dog has been micro-chipped and someone does pick him up, your dog can be scanned at no charge at any veterinarian’s office that is equipped with a scanner – which is most of them. The micro-chip program has a 100% success rate, with every found pet in its system being identified. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also supports the use of microchip IDs for animal identification and has stated that it is the most reliable system for the recovery of lost pets. Micro-chipping will give you such peace of mind in this kind of situation.
I am on the road quite a bit travelling from one pet sitting job to another and have frequently found dogs wandering the street. I will always pull over and try to engage the dog. Typically I will ask, “Where’s your Mommy?” If the dog turns tail and runs, I figure he knows where he is going. Whether that is a domestic home or a wild one. If the dog approaches me and is friendly, I check for a collar and tags. In one incident,a tiny silky terrier had a tag with a number. Yeah!! I thought. But it was a disconnected number. I found the dog in my neighborhood,so I canvased a few homes and then started handing out flyers to see if I could get a bite. One neighbor suggested I call the Neighborhood Association so they could get the word out. Luckily, we found her home. What a happy moment that was. My next found dog was a chocolate lab. He was wandering a neighborhood I work in and when I pulled over, he came right up to me. I went through the same steps: contact neighbors, post signs, talk to vets and posted on craigslist. Nothing. I couldn’t believe it!! This beautiful, young chocolate lab had no collar, no tags, no micro-chip and no one to claim him. One of my clients graciously kept the pup while I searched for his family. At the end of a week, I still had no home. I just couldn’t give him up to the shelter, something had to happen. And it did. One of the vet’s offices called to see if I had found the owners. They had a client who recently had to put down their senior yellow lab. They had seen the picture I posted at the vet’s office and were interested. I knew that legally the dog must be held for a week before it could be adopted out. What a lucky dog he was!! I met the couple and they met the dog and it was a match made in heaven. That little chocolate lab now lives on 10 acres by the lake and gets to go boating every spring and summer. BIG happy ending. You would think I would be out of stories by now, but you would be amazed at the number of pets that go missing every day. More than 10 million pets are reported lost every year. According to the American Humane Association, roughly 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats ever find their owners. Those are some seriously frightening numbers, especially if it’s your pet. Last year, I noticed two pit bulls roaming my neighborhood. They were not familiar and I checked with my neighbors and no one recognized them. On this occasion, I decided to go to social media – craigslist. They have a “lost and found” listing under the “Community” category. I posted their picture with a short description and had a phone call within 10 minutes, honestly…10 minutes!! Just yesterday, I had the same experience. I found an older bassett hound wandering around a nice planned community. She was greying around the face and I could just tell that she was looking for her home and her person. She politely accepted a ride in my car. I took her home and set her up in her own private suite and proceeded to search for her family. I’ve gotten pretty good at this, I must say. I took her picture,created a great “FOUND” poster and made copies, then posted her picture on craigslist. I got a call within 10 minutes of posting that picture. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it is the absolute truth!! A woman called asking if I still had the dog. Turns out, her neighbor had been by earlier in the day asking if she had seen the dog. She took my number to the neighbor, I got a call, had the man identify the dog and “bingo” we had a match!! There is no greater joy than reuniting a dog with his person. The story goes that Abbott, the bassett, was 11 years old and her person had had her since she was a puppy. As soon as she heard her person’s voice, she was all wags. I could have cried.
There are many things to be learned from this post and many ways that you can assure your pet gets home if he goes missing. At the very least you should invest in a good dog collar like the Signature Leather Slider Dog Collar 22in Baby Blue and attach rabies and identification tags. Keep your phone number updated on the tag. If it is affordable for you, have your dog or cat micro-chipped. I know that many Humane Societies often offer low cost chipping. Call them to find out. Finally, think globally and act locally when searching for your pet. Let the neighbors know your pet is missing and use social media, such as craigslist, to search for “found” pets. My experience has proven to me that people will consistently use that resource. Craigslist helps to bring together people who normally would never have contact. Now that’s amazing!!