North Country Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Essex County, New York
YOUR PET IS LOST – NOW WHAT?
There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you realize your beloved cat or dog is lost. Whether you are at home or on vacation, here are some tips we hope will help you find your lost pet.
First, search the immediate area thoroughly. Cats and dogs can get into small, out-of–the-way places. Look behind, under, and even inside furniture and appliances such as washing machines, stoves, and water heaters. Also look in all closets, cabinets, and bookcases. Outside, check your vehicles, as well as the sewer drains, culvert pipes, crawl spaces under the house, sheds and barns. In the case of cats, also look in attic crawl spaces, on the roof, in gutters, and up in trees. To help your pet find its way to you, place unwashed clothes, shoes and cooked foods outside.
Post Fliers. Create a simple, bright flier with a picture of your pet, the date, and your name and phone number. Post it throughout the area where your pet was lost -- your neighborhood, campground, or hiking trail. Also distribute copies to neighbors, stores, vet’s offices, animal shelters, and the police.
Search the neighborhood. Walk or drive through the neighborhood calling your pet, both during the day and at night. Carry a favorite squeaky toy or whistle to gain their attention, or carry a box of your pet's favorite treats and rattle it. Bring a flashlight to search culverts and under buildings. Ask letter carriers and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Ask neighbors if they will open up garages and sheds where your pet may be trapped. If you’re not immediately successful, expand the search area.
Call for your pet and listen. What if your pet is hurt and can’t come to your call? It’s important to frequently pause and listen for any sounds that may lead you to him.
Contact the North Country SPCA at 518-873-5000 and other regional shelters, veterinarian’s offices, the local animal control officer, police, forest rangers and highway departments. Give them copies of your flier as well as any other details that may help them identify your cat or dog. Call them every day to see if they have spotted your pet. Notify the police if you believe your pet was stolen. The NCSPCA and most vet office have a microchip wand and can identify pets who have a microchip implant.
Advertise in the media. Place advertisements in newspapers as well as with radio stations and local cable TV. Many will do this for free.
Post a lost pet notice online at www.fidofinder.com and www.findtoto.com. Include your pet's sex, age, weight, breed, color and any special markings. When describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic that does not show up on the posted photo. (e.g. a limp or worn-down teeth, etc.) When someone calls claiming to have found your pet, ask him to describe the characteristic to validate the pet is yours.
Don't give up your search. Animals who have been lost for months have been reunited with their owners.
After your pet is returned home safely, promptly collect the fliers you posted. Notify and thank all neighbors, friends, and public officials you talked to.
PREVENTIVE STEPS TO AVOID LOSING A PET
Spay or neuter your pets. Both males and females are much less likely to wander if they are "fixed."
Get a collar and ID tags! A pet, including those who are confined indoors, has a better chance of being returned if she always wears a collar and an ID tag with your name and telephone number. If you have a seasonal home, be sure the pet has tags for both locations so no matter where you are, your pet can be returned to you. Talk to your vet about a permanent method of identification such as a microchip implant or tattoo.
Pet-proof your yard fence and keep fence gates securely locked so your cat or dog will be safely confined. Be sure to check your fence regularly for new escape routes.
Always transport a cat in a carrier. Never take your cat to the vet or anywhere else unless it is secured in a cat carrier. A frightened cat can bolt out of your arms. In strange surroundings, especially with traffic noise around, it will hide and will not come to you.
Train your pet to associate a special whistle or clicker with praise or being fed. Sound the whistle or clicker each time they are fed. They will then be more likely to come running to you when they hear this sound.
Get good photos of your pet now, before it's too late. Take close-up shots so that details show up well. Most snapshots of pets look like any other cat or dog. You want your photos to be unique and your pet to be unmistakable.