Help! I’ve lost my pet!
If you have ever lost a pet, you are familiar with the rising sense of panic that sets in as you discover that your furry family member has wandered away from home. In the animal admissions department at Calgary Humane Society, our job is to reunite stray pets with the families that miss them.
Today on the blog, we are featuring advice on what to do if you’ve lost your pet. You may have noticed some advice in our previous posts, (here andhere) but here it is, all together, in one comprehensive guide!
1. DON’T PANIC! This first step is, by far, the hardest. As scary as it is to find your pet missing, the most important thing you can do is remain calm. Panicking leads your body to prepare for “fight or flight” and part of this response is for your brain to reduce rational thinking activities (because you don’t need to think about algebra while running away from a hungry bear). Replace your panic with a new mantra:
Stop. Think. Plan.
Stop and take a few deep breaths. Examine the situation and think about what may have happened (when was the last time you saw your pet, how long ago was that, where is your pet inclined to go etc.). Once you have some ideas, start making a plan. If your pet has been gone for a very short time, it may make sense to go looking and calling for them. If they’ve been missing for a while, then calling friends to help look and calling in lost reports might be a better plan.
2. Start making lost reports. Unfortunately there is no central registry for reporting lost pets, so this step can take some time. Lost reports are only as valuable as the information they contain, so take the time to retrieve your pet’s identification records and other information that could be important. When you call, provide as much information as you can about where and when your pet was lost and provide as much descriptive information as you can. Was your pet wearing a collar? Do they have distinctive markings? Is one leg shaved because of a recent blood test? These little details greatly increase the chance that someone will correctly recognize your pet. Sending or posting good quality digital photos of your pet will also help aid in recognition.
Where should you make lost reports? Anywhere you can think of… but here is a good start!
- Calgary Humane Society Animal Admissions – 403-205-4455
- City of Calgary Animal Services – 311
- Post a lost listing on Kijiji/Craigs List/Local Buy/Sell websites
- Create a posting for your Facebook/Twitter/social media that others can share on their own social media and prompt friends and family to share it as wide as possible.
- Search social media for local lost pet groups for your city (Southern Alberta Pet Connection and YYC Pet Recovery are two example of pages in Calgary)
- Contact smaller rescues in the city, especially rescues that focus on “street dogs” or “street cats” and rescues that are specific to the type of pet you lost
3. Put out things to entice your pet home. Put food, a favorite bed and other familiar objects out to help tempt your pet back home. If your pet is skittish or scared, renting or borrowing a live trap and putting the items into the trap may help. Have somebody keep an eye on these items to watch for your pet to return.
4. Arrange a search party. Call friends, relatives and neighbours to help search for your pet. When assigning jobs, remember that your pet is most likely to go to people they are familiar with. Choose the people that your pet is most familiar and friendly with to go out and search. Ask the people who do not know your pet as well to help make lost report calls or give them a picture to take to local shelters or ask them to compare the picture to photos of lost animals on the City of Calgary website.
5. Create lost posters and hang them up. This is another great job for those that want to help but either are not familiar with your pet or are unable to join the search party. Create lost posters with a picture of your pet. Include a number that you can always be reached at (like a cell phone) on the sign. Hang up the posters in the areas that you think your pet might be, concentrating on areas where lots of people will see the signs. Ask businesses in the area if you can display a lost poster in their store. Make notes about what businesses and locations you have signs in, because you will need to take them down once your pet is home!
6. Keep updating your signs and lost reports. Call in to update the lost report frequently and check on your signs to make sure they are still hanging up and readable. Continue to update any online or social media posts regarding your lost pet so people know if you are still looking. Also, make sure that if any of your information changes you also update your pet’s microchip and update your veterinarian in case your pet’s tattoo is traced.
7. Never give up hope. At Calgary Humane Society we have seen some amazing reunions. We have reunited pets with their family years, and even decades after they went missing.
8. When your pet is home, thank everyone! Everybody loves a happy ending. Once your pet is home and safe, make sure to update anywhere that you made a lost report (so they can remove the report from their records), update your social media posts and ask friends and family to pass along your thanks to anyone they know that helped by sharing your post. Go in to the local businesses where you have your lost signs and let the owners know that your pet was found (and take the posters down). Thank those that helped with searching or with making calls.
9. Stop this from happening again. Examine the situation behind how your pet went missing and evaluate what could prevent a similar problem in future. If a gate was left open, consider installing a spring close system that will automatically close the gate after it is opened. If your pet got under the fence, fill in the area to make it more difficult to escape. In some cases, it may just mean an increased awareness that your pet likes to sneak through doors etc.
There you have it! 9 steps to take if your have lost your pet. Did we miss anything? Do you have a good place to post lost reports? Want to connect with us? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page!
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