With our impressive array of technologies, like GPS and “smart” phones, one might hope that finding a lost pet is getting easier. Unfortunately, the odds are slim for lost pets reuniting with their owners. How can we insure lost pets are able to return home safely? Everyone loves the amazing stories of dogs and cats who travel long distances to find their way back home or even locate their owners in a new city. Sadly, these happy tales are rare exceptions to the rule. For every pet that makes it back after leaving, there are tens of thousands who never live to see home again!
Humane groups and pet industry experts estimate that more than 5 million pets will be lost this year. One pet in every three will be lost at some point in his or her lifetime. According to the American Humane Association, of those that roam away from home, less than 17% of the dogs and only 2% of the cats ever make it back to their owners. It is sad to note that most of the rest will be euthanized in over-crowded animal shelters. Newspapers and on-line ads still tell the sad story of some youngster’s lost pet every day. Why do we see a continuation of this problem year after year?
First, despite leash laws and other ordinances, many families are reluctant to confine their dogs or attempt to keep their cats from roaming. This is especially true in rural areas. Compounding the issue is that there are more than 200 million pets in North America and only a very small percentage has some form of permanent identification. ID tags and collars are easily removed by unscrupulous individuals or even by the pet in some instances. Other forms of identification, such as tattooing, are rare and obscure. This fact means that a shelter employee or veterinary office may not even note the presence of a tattoo.
Finally, even though they have good intentions, shelters and pet rescues are often overwhelmed with lost animals. A microchip could be missed during a hurried exam or a description of your lost pet might not match what the employee sees in front of him. In spite of these overwhelming odds, you can proactively help insure that your pet will make it safely home. First, like so many things, prevention and preparation go a long way. Neutering pets helps to reduce the urge to roam and using ID tags are helpful. Obey local leash laws and don’t allow your pet to wander the neighborhood.
Next, if your pet does become lost, act quickly! Don’t delay in the hopes that he will simply find his way back. The faster you respond to his disappearance, the better your odds are of finding him safely. Visit local shelters daily.
A new online service, HelpMeFindMyPet has recently made headlines across the country for their success rate in finding pets. This pet recovery service offers a nationwide alert system for lost pets. If you are enrolled at their website and your pet is lost, one call sets a flurry of activity into motion.
First, all veterinary offices, groomers, shelters, pet stores, and HelpMeFindMyPet members within a 50 mile radius of your pet’s last known location receive notification via email or fax of your pet’s disappearance. This communication contains a flyer with a picture or description of your pet and any other identifying features or ID numbers. Additionally, using the power of the social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, announcements are made to help increase the number of searchers for your pet.
According to representatives at HelpMeFindMyPet, more than 87% of pets reported through their system make it home. Additionally, this service continues to broadcast alerts until the pet is found! They report numerous incidents of stolen pets being returned because of intense publicity.
Other organizations, such as Amber Alert for Pets and FindToto also have web-based recovery services.
We all want our family members to stay close to home and to heart. But, like all children, our pets love to exploration and adventure. Work with your veterinarian to make sure all your pets are properly identified. Now, you also have the option to use the power of the web in case your pet decides to wander off.