I am inspired by the recent story I read of a dog reunited with its owners after being lost for three years. You can read the story and watch the video by clicking here. Lost pets are a topic I have planned to cover anyway, but there is so much to be written on it, and I needed to figure out where to start. I think a good place to start is “prevention”. What are the things we can do to try to prevent losing our own pets?
The dog in the above story made it back home because he was micro chipped. If an animal gets lost and then is found by someone who brings it to a vet or shelter, they can scan it for a microchip and find the owner. There are a couple of important things to know about this, however. You need to register the microchip with the company it is from, and you also need to remember to update your information if you move. I have heard stories of microchips that “migrated”, or moved around in the animals’ body, but I also read that this rarely happens. But it can’t hurt every once in a while to have your vet check for the chip, just to be sure.
I also think further security for your pets is needed. A collar with tags and all your information on it can also be a way a pet gets returned home. Collars and tags can fall off and get lost; therefore the extra security of the microchip is important. But if a person finds your pet and takes him in, and there is easily seen and identifiable information on a tag, you may get your pet home more quickly. Also, some people might assume, if a dog wanders into their yard with no collar, that the dog is a stray, or dropped off, and they may just decide to keep them. They may never report the dog or take it somewhere to be scanned for a microchip. Therefore I think it is a good idea to do both things: microchip and collar.
So we’ve got identification on our dogs now, security. But we also just need to try and be sure they don’t stray in the first place. I have a fenced in yard which I think is great. Other people have the wireless electric fences which they swear by. *You can learn anything you need to know about wireless fences by visiting this link: thedogbreedsbible.com/the-best-wireless-dog-fence-guide/ * But the bottom line is that none of this is foolproof. Gates get accidentally left open, dogs dig out or jump over fences when they are motivated. A highly motivated dog may run right through his boundaries. I try to keep a close eye on my dogs when they are outside. I don’t just assume they are behaving. Other people may have runs for their dogs, but if their dog is attached to that with a collar, collars can be slipped, or broken. I guess my point is that dogs are like children….you need to try to watch out for them, because things can very quickly go bad!
Another way dogs escape is by slipping their collars when they are being walked. This especially happens when a dog perhaps gets spooked by something. A lot of rescue dogs are nervous when they are first brought home, and I’ve seen this happen a lot. Loud noises or strangers can spook any dog. Perhaps your dog sees a squirrel or chipmunk and decides to go after it! That’s why I prefer a harness to just a collar. There are so many harnesses out there that are great, and I think they keep a dog more secure. They also are easier to grab a hold of if your dog does start to chase something or get out of control. I have also heard great things about martingale collars, though I don’t have experience with them myself. They are made so that a dog cannot slip out of them so easily.
Dogs are not the only pet susceptible to getting lost. The same goes for cats…microchips and collars with identifying information. There are break away collars if you fear your cat might get caught on something and get stuck. My preference is just to keep my cats indoors. I have lost too many in the outdoors. Some of mine have disappeared, or been hit by cars, and one of my cats was even killed by the dog next door. Cats can be escape artists too….my cat Samantha knows just where to sit in the house to watch the door for her chance to run out when I am letting one of the dogs in or out. Again, nothing is foolproof. Luckily she has so far not wandered too far when escaping and she always comes back in. Once she is out there, there is no getting her back in until she’s ready. She makes a game of it, and when you get within one foot of her, she runs. So again, possibly a collar and microchip, even for an indoor cat, is something to be considered.
There are so many missing animals out there. This will be my first of many blog posts on this topic. For now, let me leave you with this: NOTHING is fool proof and this CAN happen to you! Be as diligent as you can be, but if it does happen; there is great resource at www.granitestatedogrecovery.com. There are also most likely Facebook pages in your area for missing pets.
There are a couple stories I have become involved in through GSDR that are dear to my heart. A beagle named Bucky went missing from Hill, New Hampshire over a year ago. I have helped search for him and have spoken with and gotten to know his owners a little bit. You can find him on Facebook on the page Help Find Bucky.
There is also a Siberian husky named Bridgett who went missing about 10 months ago from Littleton, Massachusetts. I have been lucky to come to know her owner a bit through Facebook also. Her page is Help Bring Bridgett Home.
Please check out their pages if you are on Facebook. Their owners are wonderful, kind people who are heartbroken, and are still searching for their dogs. They never give up, and that is how it should be.
Many good points and comments to think about for all of us. The video with the reuniting of Cassie and her family surely made me cry, but of course in a happy way-and that is all we can wish for the owners of Bucky and Bridgett, and the tons more we don’t know of…
Great article, Jan. I also agree with keeping my cats indoors. It breaks my heart to see all of the postings for missing cats. Beyond the dangers of getting hit by a car, if you live in a rural area, there are too many creatures preying on our beloved house cats! Please, people, keep your cats indoors! People argue that the quality of life isn’t as good for indoor cats, but I disagree. Give them lots of sunny windows to sit in and toys to play with, and you’ll have your sweet cat for many more years. 🙂
Thank you, Sheryl. I totally agree about cats. Even our Conrad used to be an outdoor cat and he has adjusted very well to staying indoors now. He rarely tries to escape. There are so many dangers out there. Now we have a screened in porch, Samantha just loves to lay out there! So she gets her fresh air. As long as the beagles don’t leave the screen doors open when they go through (yes, the beagles open the doors on a regular basis!), she doesn’t try to leave. It might help if you raise them to be indoor cats, but Samantha has always been and she still likes to get out. Guess it’s another thing that goes back to personality! Another bonus to keeping them indoors is that they need less vaccinations….diseases are out there too.