It's important to have a current photo of your pet, so get out your camera or phone now and snap some photos that clearly show your pet's markings and anything that might be helpful to others in identifying a found pet as being yours. This will be important for making up flyers to put up around your neighborhood or wherever your pet may have been separated from you. Clear identification on your pet is also important, so make sure you have a good-fitting collar and identification tags with vaccination and your current phone number. Does your pet's tag use your old landline number? Consider updating their tag using your mobile number instead so you may be contacted while you are out searching for your pet.
Occasionally, pets will slip out of a collar when trying to be apprehended or when frightened. This is why microchipping pets has become such an important service. There are amazing stories of pets traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles in their search for their owners, so talk to your vet about this option to give you the best chance for a happy reunion. Shelters often provide adopted animals with microchips and will also scan for them to find previous owners.
Don't panic, but time is of the essence in locating your pet. Drive slowly around the area your pet escaped, calling their name and make soothing sounds and calls they associate with you. Your pet may be as upset as you are and hiding, so these sounds may coax them out where they can find you. If this is unsuccessful, it's time to go put up flyers.
Take a deep breath, because youve already taken that picture, right? For the most success, use bright-colored paper, and REWARD across the top to attract attention. Include your pet's name, photo, and important statistics, but leave some identifiers unsaid to weed out anyone who may just be looking for a reward without actually finding your pet. Also include your mobile number. Since some pets are timid and will not always allow a stranger to handle them, also include the words "CALL IF SEEN" so you can get updates to pinpoint a possible location and have the reassurance that they are still okay. Use a protective plastic sleeve with the opening on the bottom taped shut to prevent moisture from destroying your flyer. In addition to posting them, hand out flyers to joggers, the mailman, and people out walking their dogs to get more people involved in the search who are familiar with your neighborhood.
If you've received calls about sightings, but have not been successful in bringing your pet back home, ask your local shelter about renting a humane trap as you keep checking in with them to see if your pet has turned up there. Your pet is likely hungry, so baiting a trap with a favored fragrant food just might do the trick. Keep food and a favored toy or bedding item near your door to guide them towards the scents and comforts of home. Patrol your neighborhood at dusk and dawn as those are likely times for pets to feel safe enough to wander.
When you finally see your pet, it might be tempting to be overly excited. Resist the urge to do anything that could scare your pet away. Be calm and assume a nonthreatening posture (perhaps kneeling or sitting) and call soothingly to your pet in case your pet feels that he or she is in trouble. Don't chase after them so your pet isn't afraid or thinking it is a game. Be interested, but not desperate. This will assure your pet that he is safe and welcome.
Though the vast majority of people are helpful to your plight, some may try to exploit pet owners, so if someone claims to have your pet, ask specific questions to verify that its your pet they have without giving personal information. Ask for a detailed description, and look for identifiers not listed on your flyer. Meet in a public place to make the exchange and bring someone with you.
What has worked well for you? We hope you never require these tips for finding a lost pet, but its always best to be prepared either for yourself or for an acquaintance that may be in need. Have you ever been in this situation? We'd love to hear any helpful tips you may want to add for your fellow pet lovers!
Featured photo courtesy of normalityrelief.
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