Most pet owners know the terrifying feeling when they realize that the fence gate has been left open or the cat slipped out the door. Act fast, no time for blame, get going. The first few minutes and hours are critical for recovery. Animals can travel quickly.
Do not think, “I will put food out by the back door and they will come home soon.” Call neighbors, knock on doors, have family and friends look around the streets. Call the newspaper and place an ad. Place posters in popular public places. Put a sign in your yard. Call the police, veterinary offices, animal shelters, animal groomers, go to Facebook and your local newspaper.
If you see your dog he may think it is a game of chase and run ahead. I have had this happen. I will get into my car with a treat and drive beside the dog to have him follow me. I will open the door, show the treat, and into the car he jumps. This must only be done on a quiet road without traffic. Humans must always be one step ahead and that feat can often be most difficult.
If a day or two has passed, keep calling animal shelters in a 60-mile radius. Go and visit the shelters. Your description and the shelter’s description may be two different things. I once found a dog and quickly put an ad in The Herald Bulletin. No one called. After several days, I started calling the numbers of lost dogs. I found the owner. He started crying, he had walked the streets day and night. His description and mine were totally different.
What one can do to help animal recovery: Keep tags on your dogs’ collar with your phone number. Most cats do not wear collars; if they do, make sure it is a breakaway collar made especially for cats. Both dogs and cats should be microchipped. This can be done at your veterinary office or at the Madison County Humane Society on the third Saturday of every mouth for $20. With this identification any shelter or veterinary clinic can read the chip and get your pet home. With this device, animals have been returned home days, weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Please spay or neuter! An altered animal tends to stay home.
If you find a lost animal, place a free ad in The Herald Bulletin, put fliers around the area, call shelters and veterinary clinics. Be careful to only give minimal information about the animal. Let the owner tell you identifying details. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people who will try to get bait dogs for fighting, sell to labs, or get a free expensive full-breed dog.
Losing an animal is heartbreaking. We at the Madison County Humane Society have a mission to help reunite pets with their people.
Please give heartworm prevention and spay or neuter your pet.
Susie Schieve, executive director of the Madison County Humane Society, writes a column that appears the first Sunday of each month. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or the Humane Society at 2219 Crystal St., Anderson.