There are few things as terrifying to a pet owner as losing a pet. I’ve experienced that feeling a few times – guilt, fear, anxiety, panic all rolled together with just a hint of dread mixed in for good measure. What do you do when one of your furry companions goes missing?

Preparation

Pouncing kittenAny pet can go missing. It’s easier to manage the situation if you plan ahead.

Keep current photos of your pet.  A missing poster with a 5-year-old picture of your pet isn’t that helpful. Pets age and change.

Make sure your pet has identification on his or her collar at all times. If your pet has special needs (diabetes, hearing or visually impaired, etc.) make sure to put that info on the tag. I have two sided tags for my dogs so I can get extra information on the tag. For example, my deaf and blind dog’s tag says ‘I’m deaf and blind”. In the event that she gets out of my fence I want whoever finds her to know she has special needs.

Micro-chipping your pet is essential. Tags and collars can slip off accidentally. Keep identification current and update micro-chip information regularly. I review and update my dogs’ micro-chip information annually about the same time they go for their yearly vet check-up.

Missing

puppy with flowers croppedIn the event that your pet goes missing put your action plan into play sooner rather than later.  People often pick up dogs or cats who are wandering the streets. Frequently these ‘wanderers’ are missing pets. If your pet has a habit of  “unauthorized adventures” (like my little redbone coonhound Sally did), you may have had the experience that “she always comes home”, but someone might see your furry friend and intervene or worse, your furry friend could get hit by a car (I’ve been there, too). Time is precious – put your plan into action and never assume they’ll just come back.

Action Plan

  • Post flyers in as many places as you can – remember pets can and do travel 30 or more miles away
  • Contact local animal control facilities and take a flyer to post in their shelter, then call back and visit every day
  • Post flyers in local vet clinics, pet stores, groomers, doggie day cares, etc
  • Post a lost pet notice on social media sites – neighborhood lists, Facebook, lostmydoggie.com, Craigslist, etc
  • Search party – never underestimate the power of an organized search. That little redbone coonhound was the cause of many an organized search!
  • Keep looking, keep visiting animal control and looking…it’s hard to walk through the kennels of lost dogs, but it’s imperative if you’re going to recover your furry family member
  • If you think your pet was stolen, contact the police

 

Found

1378806_247094578777112_2119475761_nPlease keep in mind that no matter how long your pet was missing it was a frightening experience for them. Being angry or upset at your pet doesn’t help them regain confidence. Understand that it may take some time for your pet to feel safe and secure, depending on how long he was lost and what happened during that time.  A vet check up may be in order to make sure your furry friend is healthy.