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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Missing Pets | Finding What’s Lost, Fast

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By Grace Chen

Sensing an opportunity, the cat squeezes through the cracked door and runs away. Or, following an afternoon of fetch in the park, Rover decides to explore the nearby woods, and is suddenly nowhere to be found.

Losing a pet is disconcerting, to say the least. A beloved animal on the loose faces many dangers, from busy highways to unfriendly people and other animals. Beginning a search for a missing pet can seem overwhelming, but there are a few helpful ideas to make the quest easier.

Pet Recovery Notification Services

Naturally, a pet owner's primary concern is to locate the pet right away. Companies such as FindToto.com can perform one of the usual search tasks—notifying neighbors—on a much larger scale than the individual. Pet owners log onto the FindToto site, supply information about the pet, and select how many neighbors they wish to notify. The company then sends the animal's Sad, Lost Doginformation to those neighbors via telephone. The alert also provides the owner's contact information, and offers a web address where the neighbor may view a photo of the lost animal. This service frees the owner's time for other search-related activities such as making flyers or checking with area shelters.

Posting Notifications in the Area

If an initial search does not reveal the missing dog, cat, bird or other pet, most pet owners will begin making posters and/or flyers, including as much information about the missing animal as possible.

Information for the notification should include:

  • An accurate, specific description of the pet, noting any unusual or distinct coloring or markings, size, breed, and name of pet. Include a photograph if possible. 
  • Contact information for the owner 
  • The last known location of the animal 
  • Date last seen

Brightly colored paper or poster board and bold block lettering enhance visibility. Notifications should be placed in high-traffic areas such as storefronts, post offices, telephone poles, and bus stops.

Pet owners may also consider placing an ad in the local paper.

Missing Pet Prevention

As is true with most situations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One sure way to keep track of a pet is via microchip implantation. It is painless for the animal, and provides a permanent record of information in the event the pet is retrieved by a shelter or taken to a vet's office. Owners should also maintain current photos of pets, highlighting any distinguishing features. It is important to keep fences and gates in good repair, and be mindful of indoor pets when using entrances and exits. Perhaps the most important pet loss preventative is proper tagging of the animal, including the owner's name, address, and phone number.

A Pet GPS Device can be useful for some owners, where missing pets becomes more of a daily or weekly occurrence. These tracking devices are especially useful for owners that hunt with their dogs – in an unfamiliar area pets are much more easily lost, especially as night approaches. The pet's collar and a handheld unit are connected by radio signal, making it easier to locate the misplaced animal.

Having a lost pet is an unhappy circumstance for both owner and animal. By practicing loss prevention and smart recovery techniques, owners and animals can happily stay side by side.

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