By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM
Some startling numbers about lost pets were recently released by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The article states that more than 10 million pets are lost annually. Over a five-year period, that translates to 15 lost pets of every 100 owned in this country.
Interestingly, dogs have a much higher chance of being reunited with their families than cats do. Only 74% of cats were returned to their homes while 93% of lost dogs were. Since cats see their veterinarian less often than dogs do, my theory is there are fewer cats with any form of ID, collars, or chips and fewer with a rabies tag to serve as identification.
Since these statistics show that the possibility of losing your pet is very real, here are some proactive steps to take before your pet becomes lost and how to respond if your precious pet disappears.
An ounce of prevention
- Your pet needs to wear some form of ID every day. Having two forms of ID, a collar and a microchip, increases the chances your pet will be returned home safely. If your pet is not microchipped, see your veterinarian and do it today!
- Keep up-to-date photos of your pet. I recommend a head shot and a whole body profile for making lost posters if you need them. Make updating the photos part of your pet’s birthday celebration or annual health check-up visit to help you remember to have a new version on hand.
- Anticipate escape. The Fourth of July is the number one day of the year for lost pets. Spooked by fireworks, pets often bolt and become lost. Another worrisome time: holiday parties. Be sure your pet is carefully locked away during these events. Guests coming and going through your front door offer a perfect opportunity for your pet to escape.
The pound of cure
- Harness the power of the internet. Many online organizations can help find a lost pet. Here are some for your reference:
- Blanket the neighborhood with posters. Using your up-to-date pictures, put flyers in your veterinarian’s office, around your neighborhood, in the local shops, and on the website of your neighborhood association.
- Call your local animal shelters. Alert them to be on the lookout for your pet. Visit their website to view new pets admitted to the shelter. Visit the shelter in case the busy shelter staff doesn’t recognize your pet from the photos you provide.
I hope these tip help prevent your pet from becoming a statistic. Make a plan today!