Every pet owners nightmare is when a beloved pet goes missing. Just the other day a neighbor came knocking asking if we had lost a bird. Apparently a pet parakeet had decided to get out for a quick tour of the backyard and quickly got lost. Sadly we never heard of the owner, so I don't know if this lost bird was ever reunited with it's owner.
Dogs and cats often wonder off as well, loosing their way and becoming rather scared when they realize that they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Time is your biggest enemy when a pet goes missing.
Lost and Found Pet Guide
1. Start the Search Immediately
As soon as you realize that a pet does not answer when being called start by getting family members involved to check in and outside the home. Don't assume the pet will eventually come out from where ever it might be. Look under, on top and inside every nook and cranny. Then head around the house and continue the search. If the pet still does not come running take along a fairly recent photo of your pet and your business cards or a notepad to pass out your contact information and start knocking at neighbors doors.
1. Notify the Neighbors
You will be surprised to see how many people in your neighborhood will be encouraging and even offer to help search for your dog or cat. The more people keep a look out the better are the chances of finding and returning your pet home safely. Often hours after you have knocked at someones door a neighbor might head out and spot your pet running around in the neighborhood. That's why it's also important that you hand out your phone number, so that anyone who sees the runaway can quickly get back in touch with you and let you know where the pet was spotted.
2. Contact local animal shelters and animal control agencies
Call the animal shelter that services the area you live in and then the ones in neighboring counties. File a lost pet report with every shelter within a 50 mile radius of your home. Use your computer to visit the animal shelter's websites and scan the photos of cats and dogs that have been found and are currently housed at the shelters. It is highly recommended that you also visit the local shelters on a daily basis to see for yourself. Shelters are full and it's easy to miss a pet or be given the wrong information over the phone. Make photo copies of your pets most recent photo and leave them at the shelters.
3. Repeat the Search each day
After the first day of looking, you might want to use the car for the second day to canvas the area again. Drive slow and make frequent stops. Roll down the windows and call your pets name and wait a bit before driving on. Look for "Found" signs on trees and light posts.
4. Notify the police
If you have good reason to believe that your pet was stolen notify the police. Provide as much information as you can about your pet's size, color, age, name and the person and perhaps vehicle that was spotted before the pet went missing.
5. Call all Veterinary Clinics
Start by calling the clinics around your neighborhood and then neighboring counties. A frantic pet can put a lot of distance between itself and home and might injure itself. Sometimes an injured pet might get picked up by a good Samaritan and taken to a vet.
6. Ask the delivery persons
A mail men or deliver truck drives through the neighborhood each day. When you see them tell them that you have lost your pet and give them your contact information in case they spot it on their route.
7. Man your Phone
Make sure your cell phone is charged and there is someone to answer your home phone. You might want to change the message on your answering machine with directions what to do if someone has found your pet.
8. Put Flyers Up
Make flyers that have your pets photo, name, breed, size, sex and color information. Keep it simple "Lost Dog" or "Lost Cat" should be at the top in large print. Then have small tear off tabs on the bottom with your phone number that people can easily tear off to call you.
If you are offering a reward don't post the amount and leave one characteristic off so you can ask for it later on.
Post flyers at grocery stores, pet stores, libraries, vets, at intersections and any other place that receives high foot traffic. Make a large sign stating "Lost Pet Lives Here" and put it on your front lawn. Make it as easy as possible for anyone who finds your pet to know how to return it to you.
9. Notify your Home Owners Association
Nellie Gail Ranch has a website and does email blasts to it's community. You can contact the Association at 949-425-1477 or email email@example.com.
Things you can do to increase your pets chances to come home
1. Always have your pet wear a collar with an ID tag and /or microchip. Any Animal Shelter or Veterinarian can quickly trace a pet back to it's owner if the necessary information is provided. Any lost pet that wears an ID stands a much better chance to make it back home if name, current address and phone number are provided. Please take the time to update the information if you have moved.
2. Don't leave gates, doors and windows open with an unattended pet. Curiosity kills the cat is not just a saying, but sadly can become true. Indoor pets often lack the skills needed to navigate through neighborhoods and especially traffic.
3. Get to know your neighbors
There used to be a time when everyone in the neighborhood knew each other. Sadly that's not the case anymore. People are busy and move around a lot and take less time to get to know each other. Before the need ever arises you should stop and chat with neighbors now and then when you take your pet for a walk. When people in your neighborhood recognize you and your pet on sight they are more likely to be able to call over your stray and reunite it with you.
Important Contact Information for Orange County
- Orange County Animal Care Services (714) 935-6848 OR (949) 249-5160
Services Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Juan Capistrano
- Irvine Animal Care Center (949) 724-7740
- Laguna Beach Animal Shelter (949) 497-3552
- Mission Viejo Animal Shelter (949) 470-3045
- San Clemente Dana Point Animal Shelter (949) 492-1617