How to Help Find Your Pet—Before He Gets Lost
April 23 is National Lost Dog Awareness Day, and there's a good reason for its existence. Many people think there's no way their dog or cat could go missing, but accidents do happen: Indoor cats can sneak out of the house, and even the most home-loving dogs can be tempted through a loose fence panel by a passing squirrel. It's not fun to think about, but every pet owner should be prepared. And pet IDs are an integral part of that preparation.
Here are seven things to do in advance — before your pet escapes— so you can find your furry friend as quickly as possible.
1. Get a Tag and Collar
Your first step is to get a tag and collar for your dog or cat. This lets anyone who sees your pet know immediately that he isn't a stray. Tags should have your pet's name, phone number, address, city and proof of rabies vaccination. You might also want to include which microchip company you used to register your pet's chip.
For cats, use a breakaway collar. This collar has a fastener that releases when pulled, so your cat can safely escape if the collar gets snagged on a fence or a window blind. Because cats need breakaway collars, they especially should be microchipped.
2. Invest in a Registered Microchip
A microchip for your dog or cat is vital. A vet just uses a needle to place a tiny chip under your pet's skin, often between the shoulder blades. A vet can later scan the chip and get a number that connects to your contact information. Remember to keep your chip's registration and contact info up-to-date. You can register and update a microchip online or at your vet's office.
3. Take New Photos
Take current photos of your furry friend. (This shouldn't be too difficult!) If your pet goes missing and you need to make flyers or post a notice online, you'll want a recent photo. Then get those notices up as quickly as possible. Post flyers around your neighborhood and on social media. Contact online neighborhood groups and local shelters, too.
4. Keep Recent Vaccination Records
Keep your dog or cat's most recent vaccination and vet records handy. Sometimes shelters require this information before you can get your pet back. These can serve as proof of ownership.
5. Consider a GPS Tracker
If you have a little extra money to invest, a GPS tracker can make a world of difference. Some companies make GPS trackers especially for pets. They are small and clip onto a collar. This means if your pet escapes, you can use the tracker's mobile app to find out where she is.
6. Keep a Favorite Toy or Blanket Handy
In certain situations, you might consider hiring a "pet detective" to help. Some pet detectives use dogs who are trained to follow your pet's scent. They typically need a toy or blanket that only your pet used in order to get a strong scent.
But there's another reason to have a favorite toy or blanket handy: It might attract your pet back home. You can put a toy next to food outside your home and set up a security camera to alert your phone when movement is detected. The scents might lure your pet back.
7. Back Up Records Online
When you've gathered all your important records — like your microchip details, vaccination records and recent photos — keep copies of everything online. In a worst-case scenario, such as if your pet escapes during a fire or break-in, these papers might get lost or damaged. If you have copies online, you don't have to worry.
Hopefully you'll never be in a situation where your dog or cat is lost. If it happens, these tips can help you find your furry friend as quickly as possible.
Do you have any other ideas for finding a lost pet? Let us know in the comments below. To find out what to do after you've lost a pet, check out this story, right here on The Noseprint®.
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