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This week’s pet tips: Finding lost animals

Cats can dash out of a door or dogs can bolt through a gate very quickly. If your pet gets away from you start searching immediately. Don’t wait to see if your pet will return on their own! Taking a few proactive steps can save you and your pet from a frightening and dangerous experience.

ID Tags
Putting a highly visible identification tag on your pet’s collar is very important. Large ID tags are easy to see and could be your pet’s quickest ticket back home. ID tags are simple and inexpensive; these tags can be ordered from pet stores, shelters, veterinarians or magazine ads. A tag should contain your name, address, day and night phone numbers and your pet’s name.

A microchip is a tiny electronic transponder about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is embedded under the pet’s skin using a simple, relatively painless procedure similar to a routine vaccination. Each chip bears a 10-digit number that can be traced to the pet’s owner.

When your lost pet is found, anyone with a scanner – animal care and control agencies, adoption centers, and veterinary clinics – can quickly identify you as the owner by matching the unique code to a master database. The microchip is permanent, lasting the life of your animal so it’s important to keep your information up to date.

The American Humane Society reports that 1 in 3 pets will get lost in their lifetime. A study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that the return-to-owner rate for cats was 20 times higher and 2.5 times higher for dogs who are micro-chipped than for all stray dogs and cats without microchips entering shelters.

Searching for Your Pet
When looking for your dog, bring along a leash and treats. Some dogs, especially the herding breeds such as Border Collies or Australian Cattle Dogs, are likely to run a circular perimeter of the neighborhood. Most dogs will not run hard in a straight line away from your home unless they are sight hounds, lured by something they see in the distance. Concentrate on a five- or six-square-block area.

When looking for your cat, bring along a cat carrier. A frightened pet may hide or get locked in a neighbor’s yard or garage, so listen for revealing sounds.

When you see your dog or cat, avoid the urge to chase him. You do not want to inadvertently send him into the street and harm’s way. The animal may not be as frightened as you and may be viewing it as a grand adventure. Many dogs enjoy the game of chase, and you probably can’t outrun a dog or a cat. Offer your pet a special treat or, for dogs, open the car door and offer to take him for a ride.

If you haven’t located your pet after an hour or two of searching, call the shelters and veterinarians in your area and give them a complete description of your missing pet. Use a photo of the pet and add a description, state where the animal was lost and offer a financial reward for your pet’s safe return. Put posters up in your neighborhood and check door-to-door. Within 24 hours, visit all of the local public shelters to look for your lost friend

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