No pet parent wants their dog or cat to escape the house, car or yard and become lost. But sometimes curious pets have a way of getting out on their own, which not even the most watchful pet owners can always prevent.
The American Humane Association estimates that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during its life. While it is impossible to prevent every situation that may lead to a lost pet, owners can take some simple preventative steps to keep pets from becoming lost.
Pets should wear some form of identification. At the very least, a dog or cat can wear a collar and a name tag but many pet owners choose to go one step further and have their companions microchipped. These small devices (about the size of a grain of rice) are implanted under the skin and can be read by a special electronic wand. Vets, shelters, even some police stations are equipped with these wands to help Fido get home. If you microchip your pet, it is essential to keep your contact information associated with the chip updated, it’s a simple process that oftentimes can be done online with a protected login.
GPS-based devices can be used to locate a pet that has wandered off. Much like the tracking devices in phones and watches, small tags can be placed on the collar and be tracked through an app on the owner’s phone or another device. According to reviews.com, two of the best pet GPS trackers are the Whistle 3 Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor and the Trax Play GPS Tracker since they are made specifically for tracking pets and are built to attach securely and comfortably to collars.
Provide a Secure Space
Pets need a secure, supervised area to exercise. Fencing needs to be tall enough to prevent jumpers from leaping over it. Make sure pets cannot dig under the fence and that fence gates are always latched tightly. Self-latching fence gates are a good option. Make sure landscapers and other workers around the house are aware that you have a pet and instruct them to always keep fence gates closed, so many dogs just wander right out of their yards because a visitor left a gate open.
Indoors, be sure to close doors promptly when exiting and entering the house. Be mindful of pets trying run out.
Use a Leash or Carrier
Make sure your dog is leashed or secured in a carrier. Many pets have a strong prey instinct and love to chase other animals. Keeping them secured and close by can prevent loss or injury. Cats should always be secured safely in a carrier when going to the vet or on a trip.
Spay and Neuter
According to the Animal Humane Society, studies indicate that sterilized animals are less likely to roam than unsterilized animals. It reduces their desire to roam and find a mate. Many clinics will perform the surgery for a discount; some may even do it free.
Obedience training will certainly help your dog become a well behaved, positive member of society and can prevent them from getting lost.
If your dog or cat does unfortunately becomes lost remember these tips:
- -Immediately post flyers throughout the neighborhood with the pet’s photo and your contact information. Share the flyer to Facebook neighborhood groups and other social media. You can create a free flyer on pawboost.com or helpinglostpets.com
- -Put out smelly food and an article of your clothing near your door. Their sense of smell is strong and could lead them back home. If it’s your cat that’s become lost, put their litter box outside (if it’s been used that’s even better)
- -Alert all the local veterinarians, animal shelters, police stations, and animal control.
- -Consider contacting a professional tracker.
Time is important – act quickly!