Lost Pet Found

posted March 30th, 2016 by
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Lost Pet Found

By LaWanna Smith

An action plan for dealing with every pet owner’s worst nightmare

It was a warm afternoon when the faint sound of thunder rumbled in the distance. I had just arrived home after running a quick errand, and my dogs greeted me at the back gate as I pulled in the driveway. Well, all but one furry face; Baxter, my 10-year-old Shepherd mix, was missing.
An unsettling feeling passed through my stomach as I recalled hearing the thunder. Baxter had always been afraid of storms and other loud noises, but the approaching storm was still too far away for my husband to hear it from inside the house. I did a quick search of the property and found no sign of Baxter. Previously, when a storm had panicked him, he jumped the fence, but he was still nearby and came running right back when I called. But not this time.
Trying to stay calm, I got into my car and began driving our walking path in the neighborhood with no luck. After about 30 minutes of searching, I was officially scared.
This lost dog story does have a happy ending. After 48 hours of canvassing the area, posting 100-plus signs, listing Baxter on numerous websites, placing an ad in the paper and putting more than 250 miles on each of our two cars, we brought Baxter home—tired, full of fleas and pretty scared, but otherwise fine.
Over the course of two days, he had traveled about 10 miles that we could track, though likely more. We were able to follow his route by the calls we received in response to our signs. Ultimately, a very kind person responding to one 8” x 10” sign led us straight to our boy for a happy reunion.
Unfortunately, not all lost pet stories have a happy ending. Statistics show that one in every three dogs will become lost in its lifetime with only a small percentage recovered.
Your immediate actions upon discovering your pet is missing can be the difference between success and heartbreak. Following is a list of helpful tips for recovering a lost pet:
Act fast.
It is a fallacy that pets will find their way home on their own. By immediately beginning your recovery process, your odds of finding your pet increase greatly. Get out on foot; walk your neighborhood and knock on doors. Dogs tend to travel while cats tend to hide out, generally fairly close to home. The more people know to keep an eye out for your pet, the better.
Check the likely spots. Do you and your dog have a normal walk you take in the area? Is there a park or a house with other dogs your dog likes to visit? Are there neighborhood kids your dog enjoys? Check all the likely “fun spots” first. For lost cats, search the area around your home carefully and then expand your search to likely hiding places around neighboring homes (with permission, of course). Sometimes use of a humane cat trap with a little yummy food in it will do the trick. Check with your animal shelter to see if you can borrow or rent a trap.
Enlist help and post signs!
Have someone start making fliers and signs featuring a current photo of your pet while you do your initial search. Make sure your cell phone number is included on your signs, so you can be reached immediately at any time of the day or night. Keep your cell phone battery charged!
Keep your signs simple and the text large. Your signs must be very legible. Passing motorists must be able to read them quickly and easily. A good tip for keeping your signs fresh and waterproof is to put each flier in a clear, gallon-sized zip closure baggie.
Give fliers to all of your neighbors and post signs at all entrances/exits to your neighborhood. Ask permission to post signs in yards near intersections. Give fliers to your mail carrier and any delivery people who happen to frequent your neighborhood. Also, post signs at all major intersections in your search area.
Start working in a circle from the point where your pet was lost. With each 24-hour period that passes without recovery, expand your sign placement another mile in each direction. Never think your pet “won’t go that way” or “won’t go that far,” especially with dogs. You might be amazed how quickly four legs can travel.
Post notices at all local veterinary clinics, grocery stores, community centers and any other public business that will accept a flier. Be sure to hit all animal-based business such as pet supply stores, training schools, dog daycares, boarding kennels, etc. People who love their own pets are more likely to notice and offer assistance to a stray animal. Place an ad in the lost and found section of the newspaper immediately. People who find a stray pet often look there first.
Take your search online.
Modern technology is a great thing, and now your computer or smart phone can provide the key to locating your lost pet. A quick post to Facebook, on your general feed and on specific lost and found pages, can yield great results or leads. Twitter can work similarly. Websites such as findtoto.com offer phone services (fees specified on the site) to contact people in your area to notify them of your missing pet. This can be a fast, effective way to spread the word. Local rescue groups also offer pet lost and found listings.
Check with local shelters and organizations.
Visit local animal shelters and notify all animal rescue organizations. File a lost pet report with every shelter in your vicinity and visit the nearest shelters daily if possible. Many shelters are only required to hold animals for a 72-hour period before they can put them up for adoption or authorize euthanasia. You cannot rely on calling to ask if your pet is at the shelter. The OKC Animal Shelter alone houses hundreds of animals, and it is virtually impossible for the person answering the phone to know for sure whether your pet has been checked in that day or not. Plus, only you can truly identify your pet.
Do provide all animal control agencies and rescue groups with an accurate description and a clear photo of your pet, along with all of your contact information. To locate contact information for other area shelters and rescue groups, refer to the Directory portion of www.okcpetsmagazine.com.
Use Caution.
If someone claims to have your pet, meet in a public place. Do not give out your home address and do not agree to go to the home of an unknown person. Ask them to meet you at a local veterinarian office, pet supply or other public place to return your pet. Be wary of pet recovery scams. When talking with someone who claims to have found your pet, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly. If the caller does not include specific identifying marks or characteristics, he may not actually have your pet. Be particularly wary of people who ask you to give or wire them money for the return of your pet. It’s OK to offer a reward, but it can attract people with less than honest intentions.
Don’t give up your search! Animals that have been lost for weeks and even months have been reunited with their owners. Keep the word out there.
And once you find your pet, collect all of the signs you have posted. Leaving up signs once a pet has been found is not only pollution but also unfair clutter for those people who still have missing pets.
Proper ID
Of course, keeping proper identification on your pet at all times is pertinent to a speedy reunion in a lost and found situation. A collar with vet tags, city license and a personalized tag will help keep your pet safe. However, collars can be lost, so it is recommended to talk to your veterinarian about permanent identification such as a microchip. A chip about the size of a piece of rice is injected under your pet’s skin in the shoulder region. When a scanner is passed over the site of the chip, it pulls up an identification number that leads to all necessary information for locating that animal’s rightful owners.
Even under the most protected circumstances, pets can slip through open doors, sturdy fences can be jumped or crawled under, and gates can be left open by workmen or kids. If the unthinkable does happen to you, remember that a good plan and quick action can lead to a safe and happy recovery.

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