Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lost Pets. Do you know what to do?

It recently came through Twitter that nearby tweeple has lost their pet.  New to the city, from out of province, who to call?

They called 311. A great start if your municipality has 311.  I'm sad to say that  not all the information they received was accurate and helpful.

First, don't panic. 


Here's a link to a very helpful list of suggestions from the Edmonton Humane Society.

My first suggestions for you: Start looking before your pet is lost.

Weird? You might think so, but no different than buying food before you run out.  I'm talking about putting identification on your pet.

Cats, should have a correctly fit body harness with a tag. You can also write your name & telephone # inside the harness or dog's collar.  Engraved tags you can make on demand available at local pet stores & rivet on to any collar or harness as well. No, I know you will ask; a collar is never appropriate for cats as they can get hooked on them, or slip out.

A couple very new little bits of technology can help.  One device, Trackr, can be attached to ANY of the things you might lose; keys, phones, remote controls… even pets! Using GPS technology and crowdsourcing, you can locate your lost friend. Apple recently aired a commercial which highlights a number of programs, but one in particular called Pet Manager Pro by Tractive demonstrated a family locating their lost dog. (The Tractive site doesn't seem to be working very well right now -Aug 2014- probably Apple commercial afterglow overload.)

Tattoo & Microchip

Here's where 311 failed to provide correct information for our tweeples.  Our friends are from Ontario, and 311 said the microchip in their pet wouldn't be useful in Alberta.  NOT TRUE! If you keep your information up to date by informing the vet or clinic that provided the chip (no matter what province or state) as well as the company that registered the chip with a current address, your pet has a much better likelihood of being returned. Some clinics will contact the registry on your behalf, but it would be best if you called directly…sometimes faster too.

Microchips are one of the best forms of identification, should your pet be turned in to a vet or Humane Society/SPCA.  Microchips are registered to a limited number of companies, and within North America, some European countries, they are invaluable identification.  I just searched for the chip company names, and found a website advertising World Wide Microchip Database http://helpmefindmypet.com/ inviting folks to register any chip on line.  It would bear some research to learn if they are legitimate, but a huge leap forward if it is!

Don't know which company has registered your pet? Not a problem. Armed with the scanned number from your vet, (or your vet should be able to direct to the agency that your # belongs with) just let them know of your new address. Some welcome medical information, and lost & found status. If you don't know which company, pick up that phone and start calling.  http://www.infopet.ca/microchip.htm provides a list of Canadian agencies and their telephone numbers and links to their websites as well.

At the annual Pets in the Park event in Edmonton, (besides being a dog gone good fundraiser and fun time!) you can have your pet's microchip scanned to check it's number, and verify it's still there.  IF your pet doesn't have a microchip yet, the vet at the event offers the service for a small fee ($40 this year by EIDAP-which has an Edmonton connection!).

Does your pet have a Rabies vaccine? Then you are eligible for another registration service www.getmehome.ca.  Information can be found on the Infopet website 

Tattoos are also valuable identification to prove that your pet is yours.  However, every municipality has it's own system for tattoos and information is not universal or shared.  All is not lost though! Some municipalities will ADD your tattoo information to their database.  Contact the local Humane Society/SPCA and ask!

NEVER post the actual tattoo number on a public source. It has come down to the tattoo registration being the last legal link to you as the registered owner.  You can list that your missing pet has a tattoo, but keep that information confidential.

Look in the obvious places

Closets, cupboards, under sofas, INSIDE reclining chairs, in the mattress - yes, that lining on the bottom is a fabulous cozy hiding spot for cats. 

Cats have been known to curl up in flower pots, compost bins, on top of fridges, and near warm electrical transformers. They also can get trapped in rain barrels that don't have tops, sheds, garages, crevices, laundry rooms, behind washers, INSIDE dryers… you name it, I've found them there.

Fan out

If you're certain they aren't sleeping in your sweater drawer or top shelf of linen closet or kitchen cupboards, start looking around your immediate area. Trees with low hanging branches, shrubs, hedges… all great hiding spots.

Veterinarians
Call all the clinics in your area and ask if they've had a stray come in - sometimes outside the area too if you feel they may have hopped in a vehicle. 

Don't forget animal control. They have a shorter hold period for pets with no ID. 

Contact Local Rescue Agencies

Email or call and let them know - they may have received your pet. 

VISIT Humane Societies and Animal Control
Visit OFTEN! Every 2-3 days if you can. Your description may not match that of the intake person. They do their very best, but it's up to you to make the match when they can't. Hold times vary, and your best bud could be lost forever if you miss each other at the rescue agency. 

Blitz the neighbourhood

Canvass canvass canvass.  Print out 100 notices, or go to your local copy shop and use their less expensive services to copy one poster.  Colour, not, full sheet or half, coloured paper - it's your $$.  

What is important is that after you have done as thorough a search of your immediate area and haven't turned up your furry companion, start enlisting the help of others.  More eyes the better.  Where people gather, churches, grocery stores, coffee shops, liquor stores, retailers, schools, community halls. Telephone poles, postal boxes, telephone booths, benches, garbage bins… be aware there may be a fine for posting on city property… decorative poles etc.  Try to be careful… but we want our companion back!

You might find this uncomfortable, but talk to any and all of the homeless and bottle collectors you come across - they can be really really helpful. Many have cell phones.  Perhaps buy them minutes instead of a cash reward… I know it's not always easy to approach strangers, but they are eyes and feet on the street.

In our neighbourhood, Oliver, there is a walking group that goes out every Monday night and a volunteer foot patrol.  Contact your local community association - check to see if they have a website, twitter, email address… they might be able to put you in touch with residents who can keep an eye out as well.

Mailboxes… pop notices in mailboxes for homes that have them, contact building managers or call property managers of apartment buildings, or a resident might let you post something by the mailboxes. Don't forget to come back and collect them when your pet is found.

Media

Some radio stations will broadcast lost pet information, Cable stations (Shaw) used to have a lost pet segment, daily free print media may also. Free weekly publications can be helpful as well.  Kijiji, Craigslist, all valid places to post a lost ad for low cost or free.

Social Media

You never know who can help… put it out there. Twitter, facebook, etc. Ask people for Retweets (RT). Every little bit can help.

Register your lost OR found pet on PetLynx.com


Follow the tips from the Humane Society.

Don't Give Up!

I've had a ferret returned to me months after being lost!


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