No matter the time of the year, there is always a risk of having a pet go missing. It is actually a very common occurrence, and most dogs and cats go missing at some point in their life -if not multiple times. While this can be a very stressful and scary scenario, there are many things you can do to prepare for the day that it happens.
Avoid Losing Your Pet
Be aware of events that make your pet more likely to run away or get lost. The spring and summer seasons bring fireworks displays that may spook animals along with stormy weather with thunder that can do the same. Keep an eye on your pet during these times to make sure they are under control.
Spring and summer also bring more active wildlife outside that pets want to chase. When walking outside, always keep your dog on a leash. You may think your dog listens well to voice commands off of the leash, but you never know what to expect when it sees another animal or a different interesting smell.
Use a proper leash and collar setup or harness to keep your pet from pulling away from you during outside activities. If a dog decides to chase something they can sometimes pull the leash through your hand or slip out of an ill-fitting collar. Keep leashes looped on your hand and always grasp it firmly. Pay attention to your dog so if it yanks the leash, your wrist or shoulder will not be hurt.
If you let your dog out into a fenced-in yard, now is the time to check the fence for damage. Check gates for proper latching and the fence perimeter to make sure dogs aren’t digging under. Continue regular checks throughout the year. Make sure the fence is tall enough to keep your dog in and other animals out.
Get your pet microchipped! Microchipping is a cheap, quick, and permanent way to always be able to identify an animal. It is about the size of a grain of rice and does not hurt the animal. Animal shelters and veterinarians always check for a microchip when a stray animal is brought in. Microchips are loaded with pet information, owner’s name, and contact info so the pet can quickly be returned. Ask your vet or shelter if they offer microchipping service.
Keep a collar on your pet at all times if you are worried about it getting loose. Make sure there are identification tags on the collar including your contact information and the pet’s rabies vaccination tags. Collars are one of the first things that clue people in that an animal is a pet and not just a stray.
If You Lose Your Pet
Check with local animal shelters as soon as you know your pet is missing! Timing is key, and there is no reason to wait. Call in to give a description of your pet, where it went missing, when, and how to contact you if it is brought in. Make sure to do this with all of the local shelters. In our area that would include Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control (319-286-5993) and Cedar Valley Humane Society (319-362-6288). Contact your local law enforcement who are a good resource in the community and also work closely with animal control agencies. Check back with all of these places regularly until the pet is found.
Check online groups like Facebook lost and found pet pages and craigslist posts. These are usually active groups that bring you up to date with pets that local private citizens find. Make sure to post your pet, with pictures, as missing. It is also a good idea to distribute missing posters throughout the area that your pet was lost.
After You Find Your Pet
When you find your pet, check for injuries right away. Make sure they are standing and walking without a limp. Scour through their fur to check skin for cuts or rashes. Brush through fur to find ticks. If a tick is found remove it with a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool by gripping as low as possible and pulling straight out. Pay attention when you take them out to use the bathroom to make sure everything is “normal” –you never know what they could have gotten into and eaten when they were loose, and how that could affect their digestion. Take your pet to a vet immediately if you find something wrong with them.