Most pets are lost from their owner’s yard or car. It is extremely important that you do the following:
Regularly check your fence for loose boards, holes, and any other spaces that may allow your pet to get out. And if you are traveling in a vehicle with a pet, never open a door until you are sure the pet has been secured and can't get out.
Always make sure your pet is wearing a collar and tags. I have heard of several dogs being lost right after a bath – no collar, no tags. Dogs get excited after a bath and run around and can become lost. As soon as the bath is over, be sure the collar and tags are back on before the dog gets a chance to go outside.
Never allow your pet to be outside without you unless in a securely fenced yard. Ask your neighbors to call you immediately if they ever see your pet outside of your fenced yard without you.
Many pets are lost after a family move or when they are adopted and go to their new home. Be especially vigilant at this time. If you have a new pet, take several photos right away so if you do lose your pet you will have them. And if the pet is young, take new photos regularly so you will have a current photo if needed.
In case your pet is ever lost, make sure it has been microchipped. If your pet is found by someone they can take them to any vet and have them scanned for a chip at no cost. And if they end up in a shelter, most scan for chips and you’ll be notified. Be sure to update your contact information with the microchip company and also at www.24petwatch.com. This site lets you register your chip and contact information regardless of brand of chip.
Some pet owners pay for a chip to be installed and then never contact the microchip company to transfer the ownership of the pet from their vet office. Then if their pet is ever lost, the vet office must search their records to determine in whose pet a chip was implanted. This delays your pet’s return to you.
It is also very important that you update your contact information with the chip company if you move or change your phone number.
Unfortunately, microchips probably won’t help you get your pet back if someone intends to keep them as their own. Most vets say they don’t regularly scan their patients. Those that do usually only include the chip number in the patient’s file. They don’t verify ownership. When you talk to your vet about chipping your animals you should tell them you think they should be scanning all patients and verifying ownership. If enough of us say that, perhaps they will start doing it!
The Difference Between Lost Dogs & Cats
We regularly see cats running loose so don’t realize they may be lost. Maybe someone needs to invent a special patterned collar that would identify a cat that should not be outside?
Dogs are different. When we see them we know they shouldn’t be running loose without their human. If you see a dog running around not on a leash, you should assume it is lost. Take the time to try to catch it (I carry dog treats in my car for this purpose) and return it to the owner listed on the tag on the collar or take it to a vet to be scanned for a chip. If you can, keep it while you place ads and post flyers to find the owner. You should also notify the area shelters that you have found the dog so if the owner checks with them they will be able to contact you for the dog. If you can’t keep the dog, take it to a shelter. It’ll be much easier for the owner to find it at a shelter than if it is still running loose.