One can almost remember back to the old days when, if you lost your pet, you put up posters all over town and hoped for a good samaritan to respond. As the age of internet grew rapidly, so did the prospect of finding a lost pet.
In todays world, the odds of finding your lost pet are phenomenal with the availability of several "Lost and Found" pet websites and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, the odds of finding your lost one will improve even greater as You, the owner, can keep a few things in mind.
A good place to start is by taking preventive measures. Take photos of your pet, and update them every six months. Microchip your pet, and make sure that your information on file stays current. Make sure your fence or gate is secure, if you allow your pet outside. Purchase a collar with an ID tag, or some other means of visual identification. Spay or neuter, as a altered animal will have less reason to roam. If you move, keep something "scented" (a pillowcase usually works) to place with your pet in the new surroundings, thus negating a familiar feeling of being "home"
All of the above steps completed and your pet still wanders off. What to do next:
Keep Calm. The stress of losing a pet is severe enough to cause a nervous breakdown. Your pet needs your ability to think clearly, so calm down.
Alert the Neighbors. Wandering pets usually do not stray far from home. Get the word out (and those pictures you took) to your neighbors. Tell them where you last saw your pet. Also alert your postal worker. They know your neighborhood fairly well and can keep an eye open.
Put Up Signs. You're already out in the neighborhood looking for your pet, right? Pinpoint the area where the pet went missing (front yard, cross street, supermarket, etc) and put some signs up in that area with a pet picture and a contact phone number for you. A good rule of thumb here for a " lost pet " poster - do not use your address, disclose your full name, or the pets name. Making the pets name public knowledge is never necessary. Somebody finding your beloved pet "Snickers" may use it against you and attempt to keep the pet by referring to its given name.
Pick Up The Phone and call your veterinarian. If you have taken the formal steps for identification of your pet, the vet will also be contacted. Let them know what happened and where you can be contacted.
- Next, call the Pinellas Lost Pet Hotline (727) 582-2604.
- Also, contact the following: Pinellas County Animal Services (727) 582-2600 SPCA (727) 586-3591 Pet Pal Animal Shelter (727) 328-7738 Friends of Strays (727) 522-6566 Humane Society of North Pinellas (727) 797-7722.
Pet owners, I cannot stress how important these phone numbers are. Please keep a copy of them handy. Don't forget to leave a message if your call goes to a voicemail, in most cases, the voicemails are monitored and checked frequently. Explain to them that you lost your pet. Now is the time to be descriptive. Make sure they can contact you. In addition, you should visit these facilities as well, or send a family member, with a picture and description of your pet, and of course, your contact information.
Use Your Computer. That's right. Pinellas County has numerous websites available for lost and found pets which are updated frequently. Recommended ones are PCSO "Cares" , SPCA Tampa Bay , Humane Society of Pinellas , and Pet Pal Animal Services . Place a classified ad in the newspaper (its free!) and on Craigslist. Again, be very descriptive in regards to the pet, with exception to the pets name. Don't forget to add the date and the location where the pet was lost, the breed, color, gender, markings, etc. and add as many photos as you can.
A very confusing issue that I have seen is this: "Help! I've lost my dog! He is brown, please return him to me!" This limited post, used as an example, doesn't tell anyone what kind of "brown" dog, where the dog was lost, or when. Due to the lack of being specific, the chance lessons on finding this lost pet.
***This also applies to finding a pet, and placing an ad. Think about it ...."I found a brown dog, please email if it is yours" does nothing but lead to confusion, and several hundred emails from hopeful people who lost brown dogs. BE DETAILED.
Social Butterfly. Using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be very advantageous and viral in getting the word out. Several "look-out" pages and cross-posting sites are available on Facebook for Pinellas County. Well-known and populated is The Pinellas County Animal Services Facebook page and Humane Society of Pinellas Facebook page. Use them to your advantage, that's what they are there for!
By following the above steps, not only does it increase the likelihood that your pet will remain at home with you safe, and granted that small chance of the pet ending up lost, to ensure its safe return home.