What a sinking feeling when you look out in your fenced in yard, see that the gate is ajar and your pet is gone! Or … you take your pet for a walk, the leash breaks and your dog takes off at a wild gallop and you have no idea where he went — you’re standing there alone, holding the leash!
What a horrible feeling. Of course, there are many more scenarios you can imagine where a pet can get loose — even from out your front door when you open it to let someone come inside!
What Do You Do? Where To Start Looking?
If you call for your dog and you do not see him anywhere, the first thing you might try is getting into your car and driving around your neighborhood where you normally walk your dog to see if he is following that path. Many times, just yelling ”Frankie…want to go for a ride?” is enough to bring your dog to you.
However, if this doesn’t work, make sure to stop the car and tell any people and children you see outside about your lost pet so they can keep an eye out. Be sure they have your phone number and know where you live. Children usually know everything that is going on in a neighborhood so they are a good source to enlist!
Also, contact the police, animal control in your county, your veterinarian’s office, your micro-chip company and Richmond’s NBC Channel 12 Lost Pet Program. Have a good picture of your pet to post on Facebook with details. Check back with all these sources frequently for any sightings or updates.
And, don’t delay — print up a flyer and post in your neighborhood and nearby surroundings. If you can, offer a reward.
You just never know where your pet might be. And not everyone who finds a lost dog (or cat) knows that in addition to checking for an ID tag, they should take to a vet office and have them check for microchipping.
An ID Tag is Critical – And Microchipping Gives Inexpensive Peace of Mind
The most important thing you can do is make sure your pet wears identification with your phone number, including area code. I can’t stress this enough! Even if your dog only wears a rabies tag or county license, the person who finds your dog can track the owner through the numbers as long as the offices are open.
Also, have your pet microchipped and registered with a company that tracks lost dogs. It has become very inexpensive to get your pets microchipped. Call your vet’s office and get their price. Then compare it with the good people at Prevent-A-Litter in Carytown who insert a microchip for $22.00. There is also a $5.00 walk-in fee, so combine other needed services and vaccinations in that one visit (including scheduling spaying or neutering, as needed).
A Worst Case Scenerio for a Pet Sitter
And believe me, there are few worse feelings for a pet sitter than to come to a client’s house to care for the dog and there is no dog! The neighbor kid decided to come over and take the dog from the fenced in yard to his house to play and doesn’t tell anyone. Or a different neighbor decides to take the dog to her house for a playdate with her dog, but doesn’t leave a note for the pet sitter. Now, the sitter spends frantic time trying to find the dog when a simple note would have eliminated all cause for concern.
Other Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe and Secure
1) Train your pets to sit and stay at the door. Train them to wait for someone to come in and not lunge at or go through an open door without permission.
2) Put combination locks on gates when you are away from the house or leave your dog outside for an extended time period.
3) Walk around the fence-line checking for any weaknesses in structure or to see if your dog has started digging an escape route.
4) If you use an “invisible fencing” type product, be aware of some of the risks: Anyone can walk into your yard, take the special collar off the dog and leave with your pet! The power can go out in your neighborhood or the battery wears out, so be sure to check the battery frequently. And to err on the side of safety, don’t leave your pet outside when you are not home.
5) If you have a small dog and leave it outside, realize that you run a risk that a hawk will swoop down and pick up your dog. I know that sounds a little far-fetched, but it has happened to three different friend’s small dogs in the last six months. And you may remember a few years back when coyotes were spotted in Midlothian and Carytown. In the intervening years, the coyote population is likely to have grown and spread. Forewarned is forearmed.
6) Big or small, watch when your pet is outside in an enclosed space. Don’t assume all will be fine. And if you don’t have a fenced in yard, please do not send your dog outside to roam freely. This is just asking for trouble that you and your pet don’t need!
7) This last tip almost goes without saying, but we hear stories all the time that convince us it’s better to state the obvious than be sorry later — If your pet is afraid of storms, don’t leave her outside when there is any threat of bad weather. Even a small dog will scale a fence if frightened enough!
There are so many options for keeping your dog safe, so take advantage of them. They are very simple and much better than worrying about where your pet has wandered off to and what is happening to him. Afterall, they are members of your family.
An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.