What To Do If You Find A Lost Pet
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What To Do If You Find A Lost Pet

Animal experts are asking us to change our way of thinking when it comes to lost pets. This article helps to describe why and what to do if you have a lost pet in your yard or neighborhood.

Have you seen a lost pet in your yard or neighborhood lately?  Unfortunately, many people will ignore the animal thinking that it'll find its way home, however, the truth may be that the animal needs your help to find its way home. Don't ignore the animal as that's the worst thing you can do to a lost pet that's trying to find its way home.

Humane societies and experts are now telling us to think lost not stray and to help an unknown cat or dog that may wander into your yard or neighborhood. If it's not your animal, it's probably a lost pet that needs your help.

Think about it.  If your pet is lost, wouldn't you want someone to give it water and bring it to the shelter or make a phone call or two trying to find you? Likewise, if you see a pet in your yard, try to help it by befriending it and doing a few simple things to find its owner.  There could be a very distraught child or owner looking for this animal and here it is in your backyard. Remember think lost not stray.

If you own pets and have had a lost pet, then you know the mental anguish and guilt that is felt when a family pet becomes lost.  Accidents can happen to anyone including the most responsible pet owner as Fido breaks a leash, jumps a fence, or Sylvester the indoor cat bolts when the door is opened. It happens. Here's what the experts suggest that you can do to help a lost pet find its way home.

Unknown Pet In the Yard/Neighborhood

First of all, if an unfamiliar animal is in your yard or neighborhood you can get the animal's attention by softly calling to it and bringing it a bowl of water. Animals, like humans, need water to survive and the animal could be very thirsty. While the animal is drinking the water, take note of its coloring, markings, eye color, collar if it has one, and any other detail.

Check For A Collar

If the animal is wearing a collar, then this is a very good first step in helping the pet find it's way home. Carefully stroke the animal and when you're comfortable take a look at the tags. Hopefully, there's a number to call on the tags so you can reunite this animal with its owner. If there are no tags, then again, make a note of the animal's physical attributes.

Call Your Local Shelter or Vet

Call your local animal shelter, vet, or animal control officer to find out if a missing report has been filed on this animal. They'll ask for a description of the animal, your address, when you found the animal, and other similar questions. If they have a missing report on file, they may have the possible owner contact you to come see the animal. If no report has been filed, you may have to bring the animal down to the shelter or vet's office. They will then continue the search to find the animal's owner.

What If the Animal is Sick?

Many lost pets will lose weight, become injured, or get sick as a result of being lost. If the animal needs medical attention, the first thing to do is to call your local vet and talk to one of the vet techs regarding the condition and symptoms of this animal. They will also check to see if there's a missing report on the animal. You may have to bring the animal to the vets and one of the first things a good vet will do is to scan the animal to see if it's microchipped. If it is, they'll be able to contact the owner. If it's not, they may ask you for a donation to help with the treatment of the animal.

Shelter the Animal

Residents in many rural communities that don't have an animal shelter will house the lost pet in their garage or put them in a spare bedroom or bathroom while they make phone calls to neighbors. If you can, take a picture of the cat or dog and make a flyer and post it in neighborhood and community bulletin boards. Local post offices are another good place to put a flyer. Call everyone you know and ask them to call whoever they may know to get the word out there.

Check Your Local Papers

Most pet owners will place a Lost & Found ad in your local newspaper. You can either call your local newspaper or pick up the local paper to check the ads.

In the end, you may still have a lost pet on your hands with no owner.  At this point you'll need to think about what to do with the pet. If you can't house it, then the local animal shelter may be the next step. Depending on which state you live in, animal shelters have to hold the animal for a certain number of days before putting it up for adoption. If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting this animal, you can ask the shelter to contact you before they put the animal up for adoption. Most shelters will happily do this. You can then either adopt it or let the interested person know that it's up for adoption.

Remember, if you see an unfamiliar animal think lost not stray and help the lost pet find its way home.

References:  http://www.petfbi.com/findpet.htm



Image credit:  Sandy James


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Comments (9)

Nice work

Excelent information, Think LOST, not stray, is so true! I worked at an animal shelter for 5 years and am still amazed how many people think they can keep any pet they find. In some places if you keep a pet without calling the shelter to report finding it, you can even be charged with theft!!! For sure its good to try to help a lost pet, I have seen it where people are angry at a neighbors cat for being in their yard, they will catch it and drive it far away and dump it - so never assume a pet is abandoned by its owner, it may not be the case. One time a black cat showed up at my farm in the country, we noticed he had an ear tatoo, and called the vet - his owner had been missing the cat for 4 months and was thrilled to have him back.

Excellent article. Well done on an important topic. Voted up.

Outstanding article.

A good one. I have once lost a pet dog. This is truly useful for the finders and owners.

I almost lost my cat this morning. Its a good thing he was just hiding... he is not accustomed to other people, my fault. I thought, it ok that if I lost him but I was worried, I was actually pleading to my husband to go home and help me find him. These are wonderful tips Sandy and very helpful.

We lost our chubby pet dog once and it never came back. The problem in our place is that some naughty people eat dogs so you really have to make sure your pet does not stray far from home.

Interesting that I ran across this article today because one of my neighbors just lost his pet lizard--an 8 foot lizard named Steven. Somehow the Lizard escaped from his backyard. I never met Steven but from the pictures his owner has posted all over the neighborhood, Steven looks like an alligator to me. Oh, well, I'll stick to cats and dogs for pets.

Excellent article. A lost animal is so miserable and sad and can be sick, you are so right. Microchip is a very good thing. Thank you Sandy, for this great post!