Did you know that 30% of all pets will go missing at some point during their lifetime? That statistic, courtesy of the American Humane Association, also mentions that July is the worst month of the year in terms of having the most pets go missing. Why is that?
Think about what happens in July. Its summer; people are traveling to visit other friends and family; outdoor barbecues are commonplace; there are many people going in and out of the house and yard; fireworks are being set off by kids and in large community events, etc.
That is why July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month. As Dallas’ best dog walkers and pet sitters, we absolutely never want to lose a dog while in our care, and as a result, we train our staff on a variety of pet safety practices to minimize the possibility of that ever happening. We also would never want any of our clients to experience that traumatic event either. So what are the types of things that pet owners can do to PREVENT a pet from getting lost?
Here are some tips to consider to prevent your pet from getting lost and increasing the likelihood of their return if they do go missing:
- Make sure all of your pets are micro-chipped. Collars and leashes can be removed, but a micro-chip is embedded under the pet’s skin—so it is forever. If you do find a pet that appears to be lost, go to the closest vet clinic or animal shelter to have them scan for the chip. Remember, chips can occasionally move too. So go to a second vet clinic or animal shelter and ask them to try to locate a chip on any lost pet you find, if the first scan did not yield any findings.
- Make sure you have registered your micro-chip, so someone that reads the micro-chip can immediately contact the pet’s owner. Many adopters adopt a pet that has been micro-chipped, but if they don’t go home and register that micro-chip with the organization that manages the pet’s information, it is much more difficult to trace back to the pet’s owner. The person that found the pet will have to contact the vet clinic or shelter/rescue that purchased the chip, and then wait for them to look through their records to locate which pet it was embedded in. If the pet is found on a weekend or over a holiday, this process could take days—which prolongs the agony for the pet owner whose pet is missing. Don’t let this happen to you. Once the pet receives their micro-chip, immediately go home and register it online. Takes five minutes or less! If you move or change your phone number, remember to update your pet’s microchip information as well.
- Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar with ID tag(s). The collar with ID tag is the quickest way for someone that finds your lost pet to identify the owner. Yes, nefarious people may choose to remove the collar, but we firmly believe there are way more wonderful human beings out there than not. In the case of a cat, breakaway collars are safest for them if they ever do go outside—so they may lose a collar (or five!) in their lifetime to their adventurous ways. That is why we recommend buying a half dozen breakaway collars with embroidered contact information in one purchase—this way you will always have an identifiable collar on hand for them in case they lose one. This is an inexpensive way to save you from the serious heartache that a missing pet can cause.
- Make sure your home and yard are secure. Our team of Dallas professional pet sitters is trained to check that a backyard is secure before letting a pet out. It is not uncommon for gates to get left open by kids, repairmen or yard workers, or to have critters tunnel under certain parts of a fence. Make it a practice to walk the perimeter of your yard at least once a week when your pet is outside to make sure their containment in your yard is truly secure.
- Make sure your pet’s collar and/or harness fit securely every time you leave the house with them. Properly fitting collars and harnesses is another area that Park Cities Pet Sitter focuses closely on when training its staff of Dallas dog walkers. If a collar or harness is too loose, and the pet gets startled by something, they can easily slip out of either tool. The best practice is to check that the collar and/or harness is tightly fitted (only two fingers should be able to easily slip underneath it) before walking out the door, and to do this every single time you take your dog outside. It takes two seconds and gives you peace of mind that your pet will stay with you no matter what is encountered out in the world.
- Always have your pet on a leash whenever they are outside and not contained in your yard. This might seem obvious, but many lost pet incidents occur because of just a few seconds where the owner didn’t think there was any danger. “I was just running out to get the mail and he always stays in the front yard with me.” But crazy situations happen. So having a leash on your pet every time they are outside can make the pet easier to recapture, and a pet with a leash is a sure-fire sign of a lost pet instead of a stray.
- Make smart, quick decisions if your pet does go missing. If your pet goes missing, make arrangements immediately with friends, family and neighbors to fan out in your neighborhood to find your pet. Make sure everyone searching is calm, does not chase your pet if they see them, and has a cell phone on them to communicate. Always have a current photo of your pet ready and available to make a quick “Lost Pet” sign. Make sure you are a member of Next Door, and post photos of your pet and where they were last seen on the platform—along with contact information.
These tips are a great starting point for most pet owners. But we know there are many other things you can do to prevent losing a pet or to help locate them once they are missing. It is our hope that you already do the things listed here so that you never have to experience the fear and dread that happen when a pet goes missing. If you have other great tips to help prevent a pet from going missing or to help locate a lost pet, leave them in the comments.