Despite our best efforts even our indoor pets can sneak out and become lost. This is a very stressful situation for everyone involved. Some pets may find their way home on their own but many are frightened and hiding or get picked up by animal control or a concerned passerby. Here are a few tips to help reunite with your lost pets.
1. Make some calls
- Call the local SPCA or Humane Society. They will ask if your pet is microchipped, so have the number ready if your pet has one.
- Call your vet clinic or clinics near your home, often people will call or bring the pet to the closest clinic when they find them wandering.
- If your pet has a microchip, call the company the chip is registered with to report them as missing.
2. Start your search
- Search the neighbourhood, preferably on foot at first. Check bushes or hedges; ask neighbours if you can look under their porches or decks. Some pets, especially cats will find tiny spaces to hide in after they escape. Check storm drains, under cars and up trees as well.
- Bring your pet’s favourite squeaky toy or favourite bag of treats or food to shake as you walk around.
- Print posters with a photo of your pet if possible and post them around your neighbourhood. Area veterinary clinics will usually post them in the lobby or window for you. Pet stores and other businesses may do this as well.
- Post on Facebook, Craigslist, Kijiji and other classified sites. Facebook has lost and found pet pages for different regions.
- Unfortunately there are pet-recovery scams out there. If you are offering a reward try to leave out an identifying feature that you can use to verify if a person calls claiming they’ve found your pet.
4. Visit the shelters regularly
- Although shelters try their best to look out for your pet, if they do not have microchip they may slip through without someone recognising the pet as lost. Most shelters have a waiting period before found pets are available for adoption and you should be able to view all of the pets in the shelter to look for yours. Sometimes our description of our pets is not what a shelter employee would use so it is best to visit repeatedly.
5. For cats that normally go outside that you think just don’t want to come inside, you can try setting up a humane trap.
- Animal control, rescue organisations or pest control companies may have them available for rental or purchase.
- Use your cat’s favourite smelly food (usually a canned variety) to lure them in. Make sure you check the trap frequently as it is not humane to leave an animal trapped for extended periods.
6. Try putting your cat’s litter box out in your yard. Sometimes they can ‘smell their way home’.
7. Don’t give up! Many pets are reunited with their owners even after long periods.
When your pet returns consider microchipping them if they aren’t already. Also, consider an identification tag with your information for their collar. Make sure you use breakaway collars for cats so they don’t get caught if they climb trees or bushes. Check your Rabies tag for identification options. Many newer Rabies tags have QR codes on the back that can be registered with your pet’s information.
Written by: Kaila Montgomerie, RVT