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How to Find a Lost Pet

Most people think it won't happen to them, but losing a pet occurs more often than one might think.

Several million lost animals enter the nation's shelters a year. According to a study of 1000 animal shelters conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, only 16% of these dogs and 2% of cats were returned to their owners. One reason is that many owners fail to securely fasten or otherwise apply identification with current contact information on their pet. Another is that owners fail to take effective steps to find their animals or delay taking action.

To raise awareness about pet tags and identification, the American Humane Association has designated April 5 as Tag Day.

What to do when a pet is missing:

* Take action immediately. The sooner you start your search, the better your chances of finding the animal.

* Walk around the area calling your pet's name, or have a family member do this. At the same time, you and/or trusted acquaintances should be taking the following steps. Teamwork is crucial.

* Call every animal shelter, animal control department, humane society and veterinarian in your area. Also call breed rescues if your pet is a particular breed.

* Provide a very detailed description of the animal, including the name of the pet, sex, age, breed type, weight, neuter status, color and distinctive markings. Describe the type of collar and identification tag the pet should be wearing. If the pet is microchipped or has a tattoo, be sure to provide that information. Some vets and other facilities will post a notice in their facility about the lost pet.

* Make a flyer. Design a simple format with easy-to-read type and a photo (color, if possible) of the pet. Do not include too much detail; you want the type large enough for people to read, and you want readers to remember the key details. However, if the pet needs certain medications or other special care, include a note that the pet has a special health condition and must be found immediately.

Also, be sure to include a phone number at which callers can always reach you or a trusted contact. Two contact numbers are even better. If possible, include a strip of tear-off tabs noting Lost Pet and the numbers. Many people have found it helpful to add the word REWARD in large type.

* Use a scanner to scan the photo and create the flyer. If you do not have a scanner, print out the poster leaving room for the photo, then take the poster and photo to a copy shop or office supply store to photocopy.

* Make as many copies as you can, and ask trustworthy people to help you post the flyers as many places as you can within a 10- to 20-mile radius. Knock on doors in neighborhoods where you think your pet might be. Do the best you can. And do not delay.

Of those lost pets who are found, most are found within a 2-mile radius of the place they were lost, so owners should be sure to blanket this target area with attention-getting posters.

* Post flyers where pet owners go -- pet stores, vets, groomers, grocery stores (including pet food aisles), libraries...and post them at schools too. Children and car-pooling parents often have opportunities to see dogs running loose.

* Also give flyers to mail carriers, delivery drivers, meter readers and local police officers. These people may spot your pet.

* Another effective technique is to mail out postcards, especially to the areas you cannot cover in person with your posters.

* Call local radio stations -- some will help by making an announcement about the lost pet.

* Place lost pet ads in your local and daily newspapers. People who find pets sometimes look at the lost and found ads. Also, check the classifieds for Found Pet ads from individuals and animal control departments.

* Check your local shelters and animal control departments at least every other day after you initially alert them. Due to their changes in staff shifts and hectic environments, it is likely that your initial report may get lost in the shuffle.

* Take advantage of lost pet posting sites on the Internet, including:

Pets911
http://www.pets911.org/main.html

Missing Pet Network
http://www.missingpet.net/anlost.html

Hugs for Homeless Animals
http://www.h4ha.org/lostfound

Flealess Market Lost Pets International
http://www.flealess.org/lostpets

Petfinder
http://www.petfinder.com/post/classifiedhop.html

Montgomery County (MD) SPCA Lost and Found service
http://www.mcspca.org/lf_main.asp

Lost Pet Online Resources
http://www.yext.com/vets/articles/lost-pet-online-resources.html

"The way a pet is found is by leveraging yourself through the eyes and ears of other people," explains real-life pet detective John Keane, founder of Sherlock Bones, a pet-finding service headquartered in Walnut Creek, California. "Successful pet finding is advertising." (Quotes from "A Missing Pet Can Be Found" by Maryann Mott).

For more information on Tag Day, contact the American Humane Association at 800-227-4645 or visit http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ev_public_tagday

Also see past Dog Tips about collars and tags, microchipping and tattooing on the PAW website at PAW Pet Tips.

To stop escapes, see
http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_HowtoPreventEscapes.php
http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_FenceJumping.php


For more Dog Tips and other information about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at: www.paw-rescue.org

Stamp Reminder: Please use the "Spay-Neuter Pets" U.S. Postage Stamps.

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074
Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: June 23, 2013 (LET) PawSupport