Losing a pet can be one of the most heartbreaking experiences of your life. But finding lost pets can be confusing and frustrating, as well. If you've ever seen a lost dog or cat wandering your neighborhood, you may have wanted to help get it home, but perhaps you weren't sure where to start. Here are some tipsfor putting some good pet-related karma out into the world to help reunite lost cats and dogs with their worried humans.
First, if you can, snap a picture of the pet as soon as possible. This way, even if you're unable to contain the animal, you can look for him on lost pet ads and posters to let his human know that you sighted him.
Use caution if approaching the animal, as lost pets are often scared and distrustful of strangers. They may show signs of aggression or defensiveness if approached too quickly. If you notice signs of aggression such as growling, barking, or defensive posture, call your local animal control department as soon as possible. Do not attempt to approach the animal in this case.
If you have established a degree of trust with the animal and it is safely confined, try to get it to a shelter or veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. If the animal has been implanted with a chip, you can easily locate her humans with the information on it. If vets and shelters are closed for the day, you can still check local ads, or social media listings for missing pets fitting the animal's description. If you find a missing pet that resembles the one you've found, contact the poster and offer to send the picture that you took to confirm that it is, indeed, their lost pet. However, always request that the person claiming ownership of the animal provide some form of proof of ownership before surrendering the pet to them. This can be in the form of a photo of the pet dated in the past (most people will have at least one), or official identification with infor matching the microchip profile.
Finally, if a pet has no collar ID and no microchip, you're left with two choices: keep the animal while you try to locate his humans, or surrender him to a rescue or shelter. If you decide to keep him until you can return him home, post ads on pages for local shelters and rescues, and post fliers in high-visibility areas within a few miles of the location where the pet was found.
Take fliers to local vet's offices and shelters so they know to be on the lookout for the pet's owners in case they come looking for the pet. If you decide to surrender the animal to a shelter or rescue, research no-kill organizations in your area and ask veterinarians and trainers for recommendations. They often work with these organizations and can recommend a reputable and ethical option.
Helping a lost pet may sometimes seem like too much trouble or too big an inconvenience to entertain the notion. If you've ever lost a pet, you understand the sadness and frustration it can cause in a family. If you can do so safely, helping a lost pet find its way home can be a rewarding experience.
In the meantime, consider protecting your own pets with a dog or cat health insurance policy.