5 Must-Do's Before Your Pet Goes Missing
Losing your four-legged friend is one of the worst things a pet owner can imagine. Anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet can tell of the painful feelings of helplessness and guilt. Your mind races as you push against time to find and bring your fur-baby home. Yet no one wants to think about what to do when their pet goes missing, until it happens. But the time for thinking and planning is before, not after. And pre-planning may make all the difference in whether you get him back.
Advance preparation will allow more time to look for your dog or cat. Doing the following activities now will free you up for search and recovery, should the unthinkable happen.
1. Identification - Don't leave home without it! Make sure your pet has more than one form of ID including a collar or tags with your phone number as well as a registered microchip. Contrary to popular belief, collar wearing cats have less risk of being injured by or losing their collars than most people think (1). For maximum effectiveness, make sure the collar is fitted properly and is one your pet will tolerate. Breakaway collars are best for most cats due to their tendancy to squeeze into small spaces.
Generally, people who find lost pets want to reunite them with their owners quickly. Make it easy for finders to contact you, otherwise your pet may end up at the shelter. Your pet's ID is the most important element to finding their way home. It is not just identification, it's their voice.
We recommend not attaching a tag with your pet's microchip number to the collar. Handle your pet's microchip number as carefully as you would your own social security number. It's something you don't want ending up in the wrong hands.
2. Check the Chip: Call your microchip company to update your address, phone number and email address whenever there are changes. Consider providing an alternate contact such as a neighbor, relative or pet sitter. Your dog or cat doesn’t have a microchip? Get one! A microchip is an inexpensive insurance policy against losing your pet forever. And they can be painlessly implanted at a veterinarian’s office.
Update your contact information whenever you move or get a new phone number. The biggest mistake many pet owners make when getting their pet microchipped is not registering the chip or forgetting to update their contact information as it changes. A registered and updated microchip is the difference between LOST and LOST then FOUND.
3. Create a Lost Pet poster: There are many free tools online that make this task a snap! My favorite is on Podtrackers. This template is free, easy to use and takes only minutes to fill out. Take several clear photos of your pet with your smartphone and upload to the Podtracker template. Fill in the remaining fields with your contact info and pet's description. Also, note any distinguishing physical or behavioral characteristics. And voila! That's all there is to it. Keep a digital version of your poster on your computer or smart phone for quick access to print.
4. Pet ID Card: Make a wallet sized information card with the phone number to your pet's microchip company, the chip number and your veterinarian's information (clinic name, phone number). Keep this card in your wallet next to your driver's license. Many microchip companies will provide pet ID cards upon request, so check if yours will. If your pet is lost the very first call you should make is to the microchip company to report him or her missing. If you are away from your pet (at work, on vacation) when the loss occurs it definitely helps to have this information handy.
5. Social Media: Bookmark social media sites for posting lost pets in your area. Some popular sites for the Triangle area are Lost & Found Dogs - North Carolina, Lost & Found Pets of the Triangle, NC, and Lost and Found Pets of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC.