What would you do if the furry apple of your eye went missing or found someone else’s furry angel lost from their human at your doorstep looking at you with heart-rendingly sad eyes? But the first question is why do pets get lost
Reasons why pets get lost
Some of them are:
Something that piques their curiosity, like the green gate next door or the dog, four houses away, can make your pet escape at the slight chance afforded like a loosely bolted door to go out and explore the vast outside world.
Leaving a pet home alone for a long period while the owners get busy with their jobs can make it bored, and in their need for getting out of the house, they might escape by chance or sometimes by determination like chewing the window or door open.
A crash outside like gunfire or unloading a truck or the noise of lightning can scare them into fleeing and looking for more compact and safe shelters. Calling them and luring them back with food and treats works best for these pets.
4) Abduction or Kidnapping
Let’s face it; there are bad people in this world who might want to abduct your pet and separate it from you. Keeping a CCTV in the house can track the pet’s movement and help easily identify its abductors and free your pet from their captivity.
5) Injury or illness
Some animals, when Ill or injured, prefer going outside and hiding in a place to lick their injuries or die in a secluded place then come to their humans for help. It might be injury or a simple illness that might prompt some pets to move out of the house, searching for secluded options.
What would you do?
And what would you do if you found your darling missing or a missing pet at your doorstep?
The answer is obvious. Move heaven and earth to find your furry child or return the other one to its lawful owners. But how? Here are some ideas on how to handle lost and found dogs or cats:-
1) ID first Defense
Microchipping and ID tags for since long have helped locate and reunite thousands of dogs with their owners. Microchip your dog and make sure it is wearing a collar and ID tags to improve your pet’s chances of returning it to you. Microchips individually contain a registration number and a phone number of the registry for that particular brand of chip, which can help pet shelters and veterinary clinics find the owner through the chip. ID tags containing the dog’s name along with the name and phone number of the owner along with the county license could help a lot in finding your dog too.
It would even be helpful to put a secondary phone number on the pet’s ID, especially if you’re away from home most of the time. This could be your work phone number or the phone number of a willing relative, friend, or animal’s veterinarian, anyone who can certify that it’s your dog and enable quicker reunion of the pet with its family.
2) Microchipping is a boon
Microchipping invented by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce has been used in the United Kingdom since the 1980s and has helped thousands of dogs reunite with their families. Microchips individually contain a registration number and a phone number of that registry for that particular brand of chip, which can help pet shelters and veterinary clinics find the owner through that chip.
Microchips are tiny radio-frequency chips about the size of a grain of sand implanted just under the skin of the canine or feline. Adopted pets from verified adoption centers get microchipped in the centers while pets bought from breeders are taken to vets to get them microchipped. Registering the animal with the agency providing the chip ( 2 main brands being AVID used by animal shelters and Home-again used by veterinarians.
But many ISO-certified microchips are available on online shopping sites these days, along with microchip readers to help scan the information and make the return process a bit quicker and smoother. Even if you don’t have a microchip reader, taking the pet to the animal shelter or veterinary clinic will help find out if it is microchipped and quicken the process. It is an important factor to be considered that a lot of these pets might have medical issues.
3) Make social media your best friend
Scan the phone gallery for a clear picture of your pet and post it on social media sites with a request to pass on the message and share the picture as much as possible. Almost everyone is on Facebook these days. Even if they might not have information about your pet, they will be aware of the description of your pet and can notify you of any important updates. A lot of canines, feline websites specifically for pets are gaining a lot of popularity these days, and the more people are aware of the situation, the more variety of help can be obtained by way of suggestions, information, and if required, legal advice on the next course of action.
4) Be generous on the fliers and rewards
Print multiple fliers of good quality photos of your pets with your number, an alternate number, details about when and where last seen, along with a polite request to whoever reads it to contact you for providing and receiving any information and do not skimp on the reward, for a monetary reward may make someone put in some extra effort for finding your darling. At a time when every moment is important, that extra effort might prove crucial in getting your furry friend to return home or getting the dog or cat you have found be returned to its lawful owner.
Choose the location of pasting the fliers wisely. Be it near parks or railway stations or busy places near your house in full view of passerby’s where people can see the picture of your pet and read the numbers and the information that you have provided which will help them a lot in providing information if any or passing on the information or at the very least, taking a picture of the flier to post on social media.
5) Contact and stay in touch with all the veterinary clinics and rescue organizations possible
Any good Samaritan on finding a lost dog or cat first makes a beeline for the veterinary clinic to see if there is a microchip and trace the owner’s details through the microchip or to a rescue center where they can scan for microchips and be more helpful in checking the ID. It is important to note that pets are temperamental, and not seeing their owner or people they know might make them nervous misinterpreted by us as aggression. Rescue centers and veterinary offices have the adequate resources and qualified staff required to calm them down and check for medical emergencies, if any and be more prompt in finding out their details and trace them to their owner; A factor that makes them invaluable at a time when every second counts.
6) Start close to home or close to where you found them
Even in well-protected houses and enclosures, pets sometimes find their way out through a half-open door or window and then lose their way home. The best course of action after missing a pet or finding a missing pet is to scan the neighborhood or the place where they were found. It might be hiding in a neighbor’s yard or behind a shed, or sometimes it may have spotted you and be playing a game of hide and seek with you. Be prepared with a leash and lots of treats to lure it back home or towards you, where you can secure it with a leash for its safety.
7) Put an ad in the newspaper as soon as possible
Putting an advertisement in the lost and found column of the local newspaper along with clear details of your address with a reward for whoever brings it back or has any information about it will greatly increase the chances of getting your darling back sooner and safer with less hassle; considering almost everyone has access to the newspaper, and it will also help spread the news of the loss by word of mouth making a lot of good Samaritans as well as animal lovers start taking an interest in searching for your pet. Post a clear picture with correct information about your address and contact details, along with the days since your pet is missing or you found a lost pet, to make things easier for those reading your ad.
8) Understand the protocols of rescue centers
Sometimes pet shelters or rescue organizations don’t give any information about our queries on the phone because they are not authorized to do so. Sometimes they are bound by protocols to keep a pet for a particular period before giving it for fostering or adoption. We have to make sure we search every shelter individually and reach the shelter to search for our pet along with our ownership proof and its identity papers to ensure they are assured of our credentials before handing our pet back to us. Everyone works by a particular set of rules and procedures, and cooperating with them will ensure peaceful management of the situation.
9) Don’t delay looking at the CCTV footage
Almost every society has CCTV cameras these days. Looking at the CCTV will help confirm the exact time and direction towards which your pet has gone and make it easy for you and volunteers to trace it and return it to its owners. Not just in societies, but almost every shops these days have CCTV cameras that can provide vital information about the pet’s whereabouts and make it clear if it has escaped on its own or has been kidnapped or stolen and provide proof about the culprits while registering an FIR.
10) File an FIR
The possibility that your pet has been kidnapped or stolen is something that should always be taken into consideration, and an FIR should be filed without delay so that the law can help trace the owner or find the pet sooner than it would take us individually. Considering some rescue centers and pet shelters do not disclose the information, if any, easily because of procedures and sometimes even put the pet up for adoption before their actual owner can get to them, having a Fir lodged can enable further cooperation from the shelters than normally dispensed and help find our pet sooner.
Now let’s answer some commonly asked questions about missing pets
Frequently asked questions
Q) What are the chances of finding a lost pet?
According to ASPCA (American Society for prevention of cruelty to animals), based on a survey evaluated around 1000 lost pets, the chances of finding a lost pet are about 90% in the first 24 hours, drop down to 60% in the next 24 hours and less than 40% after that. 16% of the pets came back on their own, and 15% were tracked because of their IDs or microchips, and 6% of the pets were found in animal shelters.
Q) How do you attract a lost pet?
Sometimes pets get startled because of various factors like a loud noise or the sound of lightning, and in the bid to escape, hide somewhere near. Calling out their name loudly lets them know that their human is searching for them and is anxious, a state of mind they don’t like their humans to have and will come out of their hiding place. Carry lots of treats and their favorite toys while calling out their names for the smell of the treats will bring them out of their hiding place quicker.
Another way is to place their favorite blanket or toy outside the house. Their heightened sense of smell will enable them to smell it from a long distance and help them return home tracking its smell.
Q) How long can a lost pet survive?
Their wild instincts take over the moment they realize that they need food and water to survive. Lost pets can survive for months on their own if their need for food, water, and any form of shelter is fulfilled.
Q) Can a pet find its way home?
Pets’ sense of smell is 10000 to 100000 times sharper than humans, enabling them to return home if lost within 10 miles around the house. Provided they are not trapped or captured or injured; we can rely on pets to return home, judging the direction by their sense of smell.
Q) How to find a lost dog with a microchip?
Each microchip contains a registration number and the phone number of that registry for the particular chip brand. A handheld scanner can be used to read the radio frequency of the chip and the name of the owner once the dog is found and handed over to a veterinary clinic or shelter.
Q) How to find a lost dog at night?
Dogs usually find some shelter at night. Scanning the area where they were last seen and looking under vehicles, behind sheds or under trees, or even checking the drains and maintenance holes to check if they have accidentally fallen in them will immensely help find a lost dog at night. Checking outside food dumps or near garbage cans can also be helpful because this is where they can find the food they need for survival.
Pets get lost in a variety of ways. Being prompt in finding out the reason for their getting lost, be it for play or being kidnapped, and taking adequate action can ensure that the apple of our eyes gets back to us quickly, safely, and in a hassle-free way.