With today being National Lost Dog Awareness Day we have the perfect opportunity to talk about what to do if you happen to lose or find a pet. The information provided here is basic, and there is always going to be more you could do as the owner or finder of a lost pet, but these tips should be the minimum steps you follow to lead to a speedy reunion.
Don’t wait 2 days to see if Fluffy or Fido is going to return home all by himself. In the time you wasted waiting for your pet to reappear, he/she could have been taken in by someone else, taken to the shelter, hit by a car, eaten by a coyote, or number of other scenarios that results in your pet still being lost. TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Within the first hours:
- Contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775 (or your own local Animal Services department) and file a LOST report. KCASE also has a great Lost and Found website where you can upload a photo of your lost pet, and view all the found pets that have been reported. Contacting your local shelter is critical. People call Animal Control when they see dogs running loose, injured animals, or deceased animals. They may already be able to tell you where your pet was last spotted.
- If your pet is microchipped, call the microchip company and make sure you report your animal LOST and confirm that your information is up to date. It’s no use calling them to report the pet lost if you have a disconnected phone number on the record.
- Check with neighbors and businesses in your local vicinity. If a close-to-home search fails, expand outward.
- Report it lost to the world! Social media has a HUGE impact on pet recovery. Post pictures and the last known location with a date and time, then ask all of your friends and family to share. Check out Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets and keep this site handy in case you ever find or lose a pet.
Within the first 24-48 hours:
- Know your pet. What route do you normally walk? Has your pet ever gotten out before? Does your cat normally hide or is he/she more likely to come to a front door? Knowing your pet’s habits and routines can help you narrow down where and how you should be searching.
- Create posters and distribute them where ever you can get them. We found a really cool online tool for making a lost pet poster, but feel free to use your own: http://www.petbond.com/flyerentry.php?oid=bf
- Visit the local shelter. Even though you made a lost report, the high volume of pets coming and going can make it difficult for staff to match an incoming dog or cat with your report. Your pet is very special and unique to you, however your black and white cat is going to look just like every other black and white cat to the shelter staff.
- Be careful about offering an award, and be leery of people asking for a reward in exchange for your pet. If you feel like something isn’t adding up, consider calling the police to help you in case you are being unlawfully targeted in a scam.
The following days, weeks and months…
- Do not give up! Countless pets have been returned home after weeks and months on the run. This isn’t as uncommon as you think. If you have any doubts, contact your local shelter staff and ask for their stories of reunions happening long after the pet first went missing.
Within the first hours:
- Contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775 (or your own local Animal Services department) and file a FOUND report. KCASE also has a great Lost and Found website where you can upload a photo of the found pet, and view all the lost pets that have been reported. Contacting your local shelter is critical. People call Animal Control when they lose a pet and the owner may have already contacted them.
- Check around your neighborhood and keep and eye out for people driving or walking by shouting out “Here Kitty” or “Here Buddy”
- Report it found to the world! Social media has a HUGE impact on pet recovery. Post pictures and the found location with a date and time, then ask all of your friends and family to share. Check out Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets and keep this site handy incase you ever find or lose a pet.
Within the first 24-48 hours:
- Take the pet to a local vet clinic or shelter to be scanned for a microchip. It used to be more common for purebred or designer dogs, but now that nearly all shelters and rescues are microchipping every cat and dog they can get their hands on, many mix breeds are also chipped and registered.
- Keep and eye out for LOST posters and consider creating your own FOUND poster and distribute them where ever you can get them. We found a really cool online tool for making a found pet poster, but feel free to use your own: http://www.petbond.com/flyerentry.php?oid=bf
After 30 days…
- After 30 days of caring for an animal and making a reasonable effort to find it’s owner (reporting to your local Animal Control), most jurisdictions will consider the pet yours. You must then obey and local and state laws including obtaining a dog license and rabies vaccine if the pet is still in your possession.
- If your intent is to find the pet a new home and you do give it away, make sure to update the FOUND report you filed with Animal Control in case an owner is still looking.
In many cases, people who find stray cats assume they were dropped off. This is not true! Cats can become lost on their own accord just like a dog, and the owners miss them and love them and want to find them. Please don’t assume the new stray cat in your neighborhood was abandoned and take the time to report it found.
“The more people we touch, the more Pets we reunite”.
This quote comes from the anonymous founder of Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets (KALP). Kalamazoo Area Lost Pets was created in 2013 after two friends, living in the same area, we’re notified by social media about a lost dog in their neighborhood. Understanding the strong connection between humans and their pets, KALP was created as a service to the community utilization social media to reconnect beloved lost pets with their owners. It quickly blossomed and as a community, they have reconnected countless separated pets with their owners.
We asked Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement to give us some statistics on lost and found pets, and the influx of animals coming into the shelter and the numbers should open your eyes about the sheer quantity of animals that run loose and get lost on any given day:
For the month of April 2015
27 – The number of stray confined animal reports (stray animals that have been confined by the finder and turned over to KCASE)
60 – Number of dogs that came into the shelter
54 – Number of cats that came into the shelter
30 – Number of lost reports filed
30 – Number of found reports filed
In conclusion: Put tags on your pets, do not allow your pets to roam freely and make every attempt to keep them safely at home, and NEVER give up!