Critter Corner

What to do when your pet goes missing

By Karen Peak – 2/24/2018

Things like proper fencing, not letting dogs or cats roam loose, using caution around open doors all reduce the risk of a pet becoming lost. However, sometimes things happen.  

One nice, spring day my dogs were outside when I heard a crash. A neighbor’s tree came down and severely damaged a section of my fence.

I had a cat who learned how to lift screens in our first home. We learned fast to open all windows from the top down because of her.

Long before anything happens, do two things: microchip and take frequent pictures of your pet. According to data from the American Humane Association, the American Kennel Club’s Reunite and others, the recovery rate more than doubled for dogs with a registered microchip. The recovery rate for cats increases almost 20 times with a registered microchip.

Update information if you move or change your phone number. A chip registered to your old information does no good. Periodically ask your vet staff to scan the chip and make sure it is functioning.

That cute puppy or kitten will change a lot over the years. Make sure you have current and clear pictures. Pictures of curled up dogs and cats may be cute, but they are hard to see markings that may help finders identify the pet as yours.  Get shots of both sides and the front of your pet.

Quick action is needed when your pet goes missing. Send out alerts through Paws Boost, Fido Finder and similar websites. Be aware that some sites that put out alerts are free, others are not.

Contact animal control in your county and the surrounding areas in at least a 50-mile radius. Check/call shelters daily.  Not all shelter staff will remember to call you if your pet may have been turned in.  Alert social media groups such as lost/found pet groups on Facebook. Post on your local Patch pages, Craigslist, etc.  

Alert the company your microchip is registered through.  Post color fliers at all regional vet clinics.  When you post fliers in your neighborhood, slip them in plastic sleeves to help protect from the weather.  Talk to postal carriers.  Post signs in pet supply stores, laundromats, post offices if they will allow it, grocery store and library community boards.  Get door hangers (the ads that people hang on doorknobs) made and put them on all doors is your area. Offer a reward.  Make signs bilingual.  When you go looking for your pet, take pictures with you.

If your lost pet is a cat, ask neighbors to check sheds, garages and under porches.  Cats can squeeze into small spaces. Put out food, a litter box, a secure, sheltered box with a towel or shirt that smells like you.   
If your pet is a lost dog add these steps.  If your dog get excited at the sound of a specific squeaky toy, car keys jangling, bring that with you.  Check areas your dog may be drawn to, such as dogs down the street or a local park you frequent or schools.  

Put out things with your scent on them.  Put out food. Drag things that smell like you and your dog in the area and back to your home.  

Do you have access to a female in season?  If so, try spreading her scent in the area. Set humane traps.

Hopefully your pet will never go missing, but be prepared to act just in case.