Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Our hearts ache for every family who is missing their pets. While some ‘lost pet’ stories end up happily ever after, others are not so lucky. Oftentimes, pets are found and cannot be identified and then end up in a shelter, almost certainly to be rehomed without reunification. Don't let this happen to you and your beloved pet. Avoid the heartbreak and read through these easy steps that you can take to prevent losing your pet and ensuring their safe return home.
1. Microchip your pets
Microchipping is when a chip about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted into a pet’s shoulder area in a harmless procedure. The chip can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters and veterinary offices. The microchip is loaded with the contact information of the pet's owner and is a wonderful way to reunite a lost pet with their family. HSNT strongly recommends microchipping your pet if you haven't already! You can also very easily update your pet's microchip information electronically. Every pet that enters through HSNT's doors gets microchipped to ensure their safety in the future.
While an ID tag on a collar is very important, if a pet were to go missing without their collar on, or if their collar were to fall off as they were running away, the chip will always be there as a second source of identification.
HSNT offers microchipping services for just $15 at all of our locations. No appointment is needed to make a life-saving decision to have your pet microchipped. View our maps and hours for our adoption locations HERE.
2. Sign up with Petco Love Lost
Sign up with Finding Rover! This is a free service to register your pets for facial recognition which won't replace a microchip- but it can help assist in locating your pet.
Petco Love Lost can be a love found. Petco Love Lost is a free database that uses groundbreaking, patented pet facial recognition technology to help make sure of finding your best friend if they become lost.
Protect your pet. One photo can bring them home. Visit lost.petcolove.org to sign up today!
3. Always keep an eye on your pets
Dogs and cats alike are mischievous little rascals! No matter how well behaved your pets may be, there is always a chance that something outside of the fence or backyard will interest them enough to explore away from home. If you are letting your dog or cat out to play and explore the yard, always be supervising them.
4. Always keep your dog on a sturdy, short leash
It’s important to always secure your dog (or cat - if they're walkers) on a secure, short leash. Big dogs might need a stronger leash, and small dogs need a leash that is a bit shorter in length so they can't scamper into the road easily.
Even the most well-behaved dog can get distracted by a squirrel or rabbit that you don’t see. Our pets have strong urges to run after "prey" and can be easily lost to these instincts.
5. Be aware in your car
The safest way to travel with your pet is with a pet seat belt, or in an enclosed crate. If you do travel with your dog freely in the car, be sure to keep the windows shut far enough so that only a breeze comes in. While it’s cute to see your dog stick their head out the window, it can be dangerous! With no warning, a dog can escape a vehicle by jumping through the window. Be sure to child lock the windows too or his paw can hit the window “up” or "down" button. Also, be aware of your dog when opening your car doors. Some dogs may try to escape a car and jump out after you.
6. Get a good collar with an ID tag
This is crucial! Even if your dog isn’t a drifter, you need to be prepared for the unexpected, like natural disasters or accidents that could separate you from your dog. If he has tags, he’s more likely to be returned to you. It’s that simple.
Wearing identification will also make your dog more approachable to strangers. It indicates your dog is not a roaming stray, which may spur someone to take protective action.
Benefits of Dog Tags:
They’re easy to purchase and customize.
They’re easy to read
They’re the fastest way to identify your dog and ensure their quickest return
It’s not difficult to get your hands on a customized dog tag. Just head to any major pet retailer, like Petco or PetSmart and use one of their dog tag engraving machines. These are easy to operate and will get you a personalized tag in minutes. If you'd prefer to avoid the loose clanging and possible choking hazard of a tag, consider a custom collar with your contact information engraved on it.
7. Check the entire length of your fence
Every few weeks you should check the entire length of your fence. Make sure that your dog didn’t try to dig a hole, and also check to make sure that your dog isn’t able to jump on something and then jump over the fence. Remember that pups are escape artists! Some dogs can even jump over 6 ft fences.
Little dogs can squeeze between impossibly tight spaces so don't underestimate them and get those gates and small openings covered and secure. If you have an exceptionally tiny breed (Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Miniature Poodles, etc.) and your fence or gates have wide openings, try lining the bottom of the fence with chicken wire. This is a simple fix so that you don’t have to completely rebuild a new fence, but still can feel safe letting your dog run free in the yard.
8. Get your pet spayed or neutered
You might wonder how this could possibly be relevant. Any pet who isn’t fixed is anxious to find a “partner.” Your unaltered pet is still producing all of those crazy hormones that make them want to roam and find a mate. If a dog or cat wants to get out of their fence to rendezvous with the neighbor's pet, they will do almost anything to get out! Spaying or neutering your pet not only prevents the wandering eye, but also ensures the safety of pets and their health.
Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Unwanted puppies and kittens cause a tragic cycle in pet homelessness.
9. Choose to double leash
If your pup is a particularly good escape artist who is prone to run, try double leashing on walks. This gives the owner more control while also keeping the dog safe. Use a slip leash as well as the traditional clip-on. That way, if your dog slips out of one, he is still attached to another.
10. Teach the ‘stay’ and 'here' command
Simple training is the best option when trying to stop your dog from running out the front door or wandering too far off-leash. Practice having someone enter the house, and having your dog stay when the door opens. Keep them distracted with the treat until the person closes the door behind them. Do the same in the yard or in parks. Teaching them to stay beside you with distractions.
11. Be especially aware of your pets during the Fourth of July, New Years, or any other time when there are loud noises and celebrations
Those loud booms and sounds of celebration during our holidays may be fun to us, but they can be absolutely terrifying for our furry friends. Dogs and cats alike are known to flee when under stress. Keep a close eye (and snuggle!) on your pets during these stressful times for them. HSNT recommends enclosing your pet in a safe room or crate with no windows or doors to the outside to ensure their comfort during the celebrations.
Pets and People, Saving Each Other™
HSNT’s mission is to act as an advocate on behalf of all animals and to ensure their legal, moral and ethical consideration and protection; to provide for the well-being of animals who are abandoned, injured, neglected, mistreated or otherwise in need; to promote an appreciation of animals; and to instill respect for all living things.
Sources for this blog:
Petco Love Lost