When you have a missing pet, it is hard to think about anything else. You are unable to focus on anything beyond concern for their safety. No matter the circumstances that led to the missing pet, owners usually feel wracked with guilt. Remember, although it is reasonable to feel guilty, it is a waste of emotional energy. Focus instead on pro-active steps to get your pet back home.
Hundreds of thousands of dogs go missing each year. Often, it is through circumstances that you could not have foreseen or controlled. The good news is that according to a survey done by the SPCA, 93% of dogs that go missing are reunited with their owners. Do not give up hope.
You have probably heard fantastic tales of pets who have found their way home, sometimes across great distances. The science behind how they can do this is amazing.
There are stories of microchipped animals returning to their rightful owners months or even years after they go missing.
If you have a missing pet, there are steps you can take to help ensure they end up safely reunited:
- Search the area they went missing right away. Continue to return and search this area as your dog may be afraid, hiding, and unwilling to respond to even your voice initially.
- Contact your local shelter and file a missing pet report. Do not forget to also check with local rescues. If your dog is a specific breed, check with rescue groups outside your immediate geographical area. People will often search for a rescue group to take in a lost dog because they are perceived as being more humane than shelters. This could result in your dog being transported some distance from your location.
- Do a social media search for local lost and found pet groups. Post a picture of your pet there, along with contact information. Do not forget to search by found animals and make sure someone has not already posted your dog.
- Use a pet finder app like FindShadow, ASPCA, or Finding Rover. These apps allow you to create an alert, post a picture of your dog, and match any other dogs listed as found. They even have photo-matching through volunteers or software to compare your dog’s picture to that of other found pets.
- Have flyers made with a clear picture of your missing pet, a substantial reward, and contact information. Place flyers everywhere possible. Ask places of business to allow you to put them up. Give them to neighbors and ask them to distribute them as well.
- Continue to post periodically on social media, and lost and found groups. Expand your search area and post in groups farther out from the location your dog went missing.
Pets are good for our emotional and physical well-being. The stress of having a missing pet can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Take care of yourself while you search for your lost pet. Self-care will benefit you and your pet. Adequate rest will give you a clearer head to focus on the search. Rest and self-care will also help ensure you do not end up sidelined from the hunt from exhaustion or a medical issue.
A missing pet is hard on the entire family. Give everyone, even children, a role to play in finding your pet. They will take comfort in feeling as though they are contributing to the search. Comfort your children, but be careful to avoid false hope. Though odds are good you will find your pet, don’t make promises that you may be unable to keep. Children often form deep emotional bonds with pets. Speak with them about all you are doing to find the pet, and encourage them to remain hopeful.