By: Crystal Arnott – January, 2010
Each year thousands of animals go missing and are never reunited with their families.
Without proper identification, many of these animals enter shelters and never make it home. There are many ways to ensure your pet makes it home after an adventure out of the house, and a little work now will make it easier to get your pet home if it goes missing.
Veterinary Records: To keep your pet safe if it escapes, animals need to be kept up to date on vaccinations to prevent contracting diseases. Your dogs, cats and even ferrets should at the very least have a Rabies Vaccination, as Massachusetts State Law requires. Also, spay or neuter your pets; animals that are “fixed” are less likely to wander away. Keep your records of your veterinary visits handy, this is one way to prove ownership of a pet.
Collar and ID Tag: All pets, even indoor cats, should wear a collar and ID tag at all times since you never know when they will get adventurous and sneak away. This is the easiest and most inexpensive way to help ensure your pets make it home. Good Samaritans are usually the first to pick up a stray dog or cat and can get them home quickly and easily if identification is clearly printed and displayed on the pet’s collar. The animals name and 2 phone numbers should be listed on the tag.
Take Photos: If your pet goes missing you’ll need to make a flier to post in your neighborhood and forward to the local animal shelters. A current photo is important for shelter staff to identify your pet if someone drops it off. Include on the flier the pets approximate age, a good description, sex and whether spayed or neutered, description of collar and ID tags and where it was last seen. This will also help your neighbors identify your pet if it’s seen wandering through their yards.
Microchippng-: There are many companies available now that will “Microchip” your pet. A microchip is a tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, and holds a unique identification number. The chip is inserted into the “scruff” area of a dog or cat, right under the skin on the back of the neck. Most veterinarians, animal control facilities and animal shelters have scanners which can pick up the chip number when waived over the animal. Once the identification number is found, the microchip company is contacted and the owner is immediately called.
This is one of the most effective ways of getting your pet back home, they are permanent and provide an alternative method in case a collar slips off. Most companies will also provide easy to make Lost Fliers if your pet goes missing. Microchips should be used in addition to collar and id tags for the most effective way to get your pets home.
What To Do If Your Pet Does Get Out
Call your local animal control office and shelters to report your pet missing. Don’t wait! The sooner you report your pet missing, the sooner everyone can be on the look out for them. Many people wait days or even weeks to report missing cats, but it is imperative that shelters know early that your pet may come through their door.
Once you’ve notified the local officials, print off some lost fliers and distribute them to your neighbors and hang them on bulletin boards at the convenience store, library, supermarket and anywhere that will let you post them.
Lastly, don’t give up hope! There have been reports of animals returning home after long adventures of weeks or even months!