Finding a Lost Pet
Lost pets are rarely found, but they’re out there. One cat lost from her Maple Ridge home was eventually found at the SPCA hospital in Vancouver. She had been picked up injured in Coquitlam. Another cat was found after several days, hiding in a shed a few streets away from home. Another was found up a tree, entangled so she couldn’t get down. What happens to a pet once she disappears depends on many variables, from her personality to the weather. Finding a lost pet would be a formidable challenge for the best detective. But there are things you can do.
First, search odd spots on your own property. Pets have been found wedged in pipes, crawl spaces, even snoozing inside furniture, nestled among the box springs. Check inside and out — everywhere from inside appliances to rooftops and treetops. If something frightens an animal, it bolts. Cats usually head straight up and, driven by panic, they clamber up things they can’t later climb down.
Next, walk your neighbourhood or the area your pet was last seen. Call him, shake his favourite treat box or squeeze his squeaky toy. Take a flashlight to check dark corners. Stop and listen often for faint replies. Do this as soon as you know your pet is missing and again at the quietest time of day. If your pet is off his home turf and can’t or won’t come home, he’ll probably be too frightened to come out of hiding unless it’s quiet. You’ll also hear faint cries better.
If your pet disappeared from home, try to remember if there was a moving van, delivery van or work crew in the area. Cats have been known to hop into an open, parked vehicle, then be inadvertently shut in and driven away. Ask the neighbours. If you can contact the company or client, have them ask the driver to peek before opening the doors fully. A stowaway may be waiting for the first crack of daylight so he can escape, not realizing he won’t be exiting in the neighbourhood in which he entered.
Put a flyer with a photo of your pet, his description and your phone number through every mail slot in the area. Post as many fliers as you can within a one mile radius. Canvass your immediate neighbourhood personally. People are more likely to remember and provide information when you are right in front of them. Visit — don’t just phone — your local shelter. No two people describe an animal the same way, you have to look to know if he’s there. Leave a flyer but visit again. Send your flyer to other shelters as far afield as you’re able. If your pet stowed away in a vehicle and escaped in another community, he will be taken to that community’s shelter if he’s picked up. Put up flyers at all the vet’s offices and pet supply stores in your community and in surrounding communities — further out than you may think is possible. Clients of those places who have animals themselves are more likely to notice a stray. Maybe even check with local schools (children and animals are like magnets for each other). Put a lost ad in newspapers.
Don’t give up hope; keep checking your leads regularly. Sometimes pets have been found after many months have passed. Also, wait at least 30 to 60 days after losing your pet before you get a new one, unless you are able to keep both your new pet and your lost pet.
So there’s a lot you can do about finding your lost pet. But prevention is best. Make sure your property is fully fenced. Make sure your pet has identification. Collars with ID are the minimum. Use a collar that will release rather than strangle a pet who snags on something. Phone your vet about getting a microchip implanted. Keep your phone and address current with whomever microchipped or tattooed your pet. Check your pet’s tattoo. If you can’t read it, nobody else can. They can fade with time. Always transport your pet in a carrier or on a leash. If something startles him while in transit, you would be unable to prevent him from bolting unless he’s secured. Finding a lost pet is possible but keeping him safe is easiest.