Last time, we discussed some of the things you can do to help keep your pet from being overly anxious during the upcoming fireworks displays. But, as we are all aware, sometimes our best intentions can be undone by the littlest of things. So, what are you going to do if your pet gets away during this holiday?
First, understand that July 5th is, by far, the busiest day of the year for animal shelters. From scared cats and despondent dogs to horses and cattle roaming rural areas, many shelters see a huge uptake in intakes as they work to house lost animals. While you may have followed my advice in the previous blog, it's never wrong to be prepared . . . "just in case."
Take a moment, right now, and go get a current picture of your pet on your phone. Seriously, STOP READING and go do this right now!! You will thank me when someone asks you what your pet looks like and your most recent picture is from 2015! Next, if you haven't already done this, get a microchip for your pet! This is a really inexpensive piece of insurance that can help you get your pet back home more quickly than typical ID tags or collars. Your veterinarian is happy to assist you with this project.
After microchipping, make sure you keep your information current in the microchip company database! The chip is only as good as your last phone number and address, so make sure you apply needed changes to this important database as moves/new phones, etc happen.
So, those are the proactive steps . . . what about steps to take if your pet gets out? First, don't delay hoping that he or she will find the way home. These animals are often in panic mode and may find themselves in unfamiliar territory, being harassed by other animals or even wildlife. Start combing the neighborhood and get your entire squad involved. This may not be available across the U.S., but in Central Indiana, we have a great organization called IndyLostPetAlert who posts both lost and found pets throughout social media. Personally speaking, over the last 6 years, I have seen more than a dozen pets find their way home via IndyLostPetAlert, just from just one of our veterinary practices. (FYI, full disclosure, Noah's Animal Hospitals is a sponsor of IndyLostPetAlert).
Some microchip companies will even assist you by sending out email/fax alerts to area veterinarians and other businesses. HomeAgain, a microchip distributed by Merck, even works to create Lost Pet Posters to help!
One of the most important things that I tell clients is to not rely on phones and social media when looking for that lost pet. You need to get up and actually go to the local shelter and look. Due to the craziness of this holiday, there might be 8 other "Lab mixes" who look like yours OR, more commonly, your pet looks more like a Shepherd mix to the shelter volunteer and when asked to look for Lab mixes, they will look right over your pet!! This is not to disparage shelter workers/volunteers, but rather to highlight how each of us might look at a specific pet and see something a little different.
Finally, don't give up! The news and social media feeds routinely share stories of lost pets finding their way home after months or years. And, your odds of seeing your furry friend return increase greatly when you follow some of the simple advice posted above! Happy Fourth of July!! Now it's your turn . . . have you ever experienced the panic associated with coming home to your house, but no pet?