The Missing: Finding Lost Pets is a Multi-Stage ProcessPublished May 21, 2012
Hanah, a white American Bulldog with one blue eye and one brown, is just one of several lost pets still missing from that day. Other lost pets include Leslie, a now 5-year-old male white Great Pyrenees. He was not wearing tags, but was micro chipped. Also included among the missing is Harley, a 40-pound Corgi/Shepherd mix that was wearing an orange Harley Davidson collar when he disappeared in the storm.
The owners of these animals don’t feel as they should give up as all of these pets were thought to have been spotted alive after the tornado. Their humans believe their pets might have been mistakenly taken from the area by well-meaning out of town rescues that descended on Joplin to assist after the storm.
I’ve experienced losing two dogs that went missing and were never recovered. One was lost 18 years ago while a relative was watching her when we were on vacation and Emma was lost 1 ½ years ago. I don’t think we’ll ever recover from either.
One of my friend’s cats recently went missing and another is missing a dog. When I started going through my list of things they could do to help locate them, I was surprised they hadn’t thought of some of these items.
Here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years to help find lost pets, many of which are also recommended by the ASPCA:
Tips for Finding Lost Pets: Calls and Emails
The first thing you should do is call your local animal control, veterinarian’s offices, pet supply stores, local rescues and humane societies and street/highway department (to see if they have picked up any injured/deceased animals that have been hit). Go ahead and call your local newspaper and see if they have any pets that match your pet’s description listed as “lost.” File a lost pet report with the newspaper; they are typically free for 3-5 days. You can always cancel it if your pet is found.
Tips for Finding Lost Pets: Talk to Neighbors/Canvass your Neighborhood
Contact all of your neighbors and ask them (or ask permission) to check sheds, barns, outbuildings and garages. Cats, especially, have a tendency to get trapped in open sheds that are later closed up. Also, if your animal is injured, it might have sought a quiet place. We once found a lost cat of ours under the neighbor’s deck. She had been injured in a scrap with another animal and was lying there in a dark, quiet and safe place.
Tips for Finding Lost Pets: Flyers
Just as you would with your human children, it’s very important to have a recent photo of your pet so you can place it on a flyer. Make the first line BIG, reading LOST DOG or LOST CAT. Make sure to include a full description with colors, body weight, collar color/type and any unique markings (such as Hanah’s eyes). Post them everywhere, including grocery and convenience stores, veterinarian’s offices, pet supply stores, groomers, gas stations, laundry mats, dog parks, anywhere you can think of that neighborhood people gather. Hand them to neighbors, make sure neighborhood kids know to be on the lookout. If your neighborhood or building has a bank of mailboxes, post them near (not inside as this is illegal) and on lampposts. Make sure you get permission before posting them on private property.
Tips for Finding Lost Pets: Use News Outlets and Social Media
You should already have your pet listed in the newspaper and now it’s time to get their photo out there on social media. Post a photo/description on your Facebook page and Twitter account and ask all of your friends, no matter if they live near you or not, to “share” the post. You never know who might be the right person to see it as social media has made our degrees of separation so close. Whirley, a cat missing in Joplin, was found thanks to Facebook. Post an ad on Craig’s List and also check for lost animals listed in your area. Also, many television news stations and radio programs run descriptions now of lost pets. My husband phoned in a tip to a neighbor of ours when he heard about her lost Jack Russell Terriers on a local radio show. His tip led directly to their being reunited. Text your friends in the area with your pet’s photo and info.
This is also a good opportunity to remind pet parents to make sure their pets are carrying id, they should have both tags and be micro chipped to ensure the best possible outcome if your pet is lost.
While it may not always be possible, pets should not be allowed to be outside alone. Dogs left in backyards are prey for “bunchers” who steal animals to sell to research facilities. Outdoor cats not only risk harm to themselves, but are lethal to the wild bird population.
Do you have any other ideas that may help find lost pets or do you have a story to share about the miraculous recovery of a lost pet? Share in the comments below.