One of the most tragic events for any family – especially one with small children – is losing one of the pets. Whether it be a dog or cat, animals sometimes get loose, and finding them among all of the houses and streets and bushes and trees in your neighborhood can seem like a lost cause.
There is hope, however, if you are diligent in your search and if you act quickly enough. Most animals who get loose from the house or yard are found within Ã?Â¾ of a mile from the house. That means that your search radius is limited, and you can concentrate your efforts on looking closely around your block.
The First Few Hours
1. Look Quickly
As soon as you find that your dog or cat is missing, get started on your search. Don’t bother calling friends or neighbors yet because you will lose valuable time. Begin by searching the area immediately around your house, and then move progressively outward. It goes much faster if you have three or four people searching together.
2. To Call or Not To Call?
Calling your pet may be a good thing, but it may also hurt your chances of finding the animal. If your dog or cat typically comes to its name, then go ahead and call to it. But if you think that it will run away as soon as it hears you coming, they try to stay as quiet as possible. Animals may run because they think they will be in trouble for running away, and they may also run because they are enjoying their freedom. Whatever the case, make the best decision concerning your particular pet.
3. Run The Can Opener
If you use an electric can opener to open your pet’s food cans, take the can opener outside and run it for several minutes. This works especially well with cats, but can also be effective with dogs. Animals hear much better than we do, and if they think that it’s dinnertime, they may come running. If there are other sounds that your pet might look forward to, use them as well.
4. Don’t Drive
Most people make the mistake of driving all over their neighborhood in search of their lost dog or cat. Chances are, if you are driving a car, you are going to miss something. Looking for your pet on foot will greatly increase your chances of finding it, and will allow you to look more closely at shrubs, bushes, and front walkways. Not to mention, you don’t need to drive because you should be looking in an extremely small radius around your house.
5. Carry Treats
It would be a shame if you found your pet and the animal ran away before you were able to capture it. To lessen that risk, carry your pet’s favorite treats in your pocket as an offering if you are to find it.
The Next Day
1. Call The Neighbors
If you haven’t found your pet the following day, it’s time to take a more proactive approach. Call your neighbors, friends, and anyone who might be able to keep an eye out and let them know the situation. Find out if your cat or dog has been begging at a neighbor’s front door, or if it has wandered into another backyard. Let them know the specifications of your pet’s breed, color, name, and distinguishing characteristics.
2. Phone The SPCA
Your local SPCA will probably have a list of any dogs or cats that have been picked up by the side of the road. In states where leash laws are extremely strict, a “pound napper” might have picked up your pet, and you will have to pay a feet in order to get it back. You can also make phone calls to your veterinarian and other local veterinarians to find out if any animals have been brought in with injuries.
3. Make Posters
It might sound silly, but posters are a great way to get people on the look-out. Animal lovers can’t resist a picture of an adorable puppy or kitten on a telephone pole, and since they know your pet is missing, they will probably pay more attention. If you want to offer a reward, you can post that below the picture, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
Post the pictures around your neighborhood and hand them out to walkers or bikers. If you really want to go the extra mile, post them in grocery stores and gas stations around your neighborhood.
4. Expand Your Search
After you have thoroughly combed the area immediately around your house, begin to gradually extend your search radius. Enlist the help of friends or neighbors who want to help, and delegate ‘territories’ to everyone. You might feel like an army general, but at least you’re doing the best you can.
5. Continue To Call
Keep up with the news at the SPCA, the pound, and your local veterinarians. Call once a day to ask about found or injured pets, and leave your contact information should anything come up.
Tips On Keeping Pets Contained
Family pets are often just that: part of the family. Since you value your pets and you care for their safety, take appropriate measures to keep them contained in your yard and home. There are also ways to help track your dog or cat should it get loose despite your efforts.
1. Keep fences repaired – Broken or rotten fences are the most common ways that pets escape. Make sure that the lower halves of fences are in good repair, and that there are no weak boards. You can also install an electric fence that will discourage pets from trying to escape.
2. Be careful of ‘doggie doors’ – If you have a pet door, install something that enables you to lock it if necessary. When you are having a new fence put up, you don’t want your dog or cat to have easy access to the back yard.
3. Post signs – Beware of Dog signs are not just to deter robbers; they will also warn meter readers, repairmen, or yard workers that there is a dog in the yard that must be kept contained. This will help reduce the risk of someone accidentally letting your pet out through the gate.
4. Keep leashes in good repair – If you keep your pet tethered to a long rope in the yard, ensure that it cannot break or uproot if your dog is insistent enough. Check the snaps for rust and your dog’s collar for the proper tightness.
5. Keep doors shut – Cats are especially good at slinking through cracks when doors are left open. Since a backyard will probably not contain your feline pet, indoor cats have to be watched rather closely.
6. Get a tracking device – Veterinarians are now able to inject a small chip into your pet’s neck that can be tracked should it ever be lost and then found. The chip will tell any veterinarian who you are and what your contact information is. This will only work if your pet is picked up by someone who is kind enough to take it to the vet, but it’s work it if it can possibly get your four-legged friend back safely.