What happens if your pet gets out and runs away? It could be a case of nature calling, in the form of a local bitch in heat, or maybe your cat or dog was spooked by Peter the meter reader doing his monthly check on your natural gas consumption. In any case, what to do when Fido or Fifi flees?
Lost Pet Steps
First, wait about an hour at home and then check with your neighbors (or send a family member to check while you wait, in case your pet returns). Often, a good neighbor will recognize a local dog or cat roaming unescorted, and hold them until you come calling. It's okay to enlist the support of your neighbors by asking them to help you do a foot search, calling out your pet's name or squeezing their favorite noisy toy. Send the kids on the block out on their bikes. Post flyers with a photo and a reward.
The next step is to call the local Animal Control, ASPCA or rescue services. Some people call a rescue service, which acts much like a municipal dog pound. They come and retrieve a hiding animal and bring them someplace safe until the owner finds them. They may list them on their website or make other efforts to find the owner.
Visit Animal Control
It's important to actually go to the local shelter. Your pet's description may not be enough to make a positive ID on the phone so bring a photo with you. Animal shelters hold their charges for a limited time so check on a regular basis.
Lost Pet Detectives
If all else fails its time to call in an expert - find your very own Ace Ventura. Pet Detectives can be located through a web search or your phone book. They will post flyers for you, place ads on the 'net and local papers and deal with the reward or ransom, as needed. It was a pet detective that found Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell, and I'm sure he got more than a room with a view for it.
Once your pet is located, take them to the vet to make sure they're healthy and hydrated. Be sure to get new nametags and collars. This would be a good time to consider an ID chip if you don;t already have one. It's a tiny under-the-skin implant the size of a grain of rice that contains all vital data regarding the ownership and health of your pet, and in some cases can be read in the field. Most vets and shelters have a reader.
To prevent future escapes, make sure your fences and gates are secure at all times.
And that's your Two-minute Pet Tip from the Wild Life.
See other topics covered by Wendy Nan Rees and listen to audio files of her radio show, "The Wild Life."
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