|Finding a lost or stolen pet|
|Wednesday, 30 May 2012 09:20|
Sadly, the HSGB receives many reports of missing pets. Even sadder, many pet owners do not take further action beyond contacting us, or take no action at all. We are unable to search for your pet and we don't have time to create a flier for you, never mind post it all over town!
We do keep a file of lost pet reports, and we do consult it for all stray animals that are brought in. If a picture and/or flier is emailed to us we are happy to post it on our Facebook page and also email to our local contacts.
The chances of finding a missing or stolen pet are greatly increased when the pet owner is proactive and puts in some effort. Below are some good tips that have proven successful many times in finding a lost pet.Before your pet is ever lost, make sure you have a good color (full body) photograph that shows your pet clearly.
A simple description is not enough; as not everyone uses the same words for the same thing! If you tell us your dog is brown for example - does that mean light brown, red brown, gold brown, dark brown...or even yellow? Long coat, curly coat, short coat, medium coat? Large, medium, small? What is large? 50 lbs or 100 lbs? What is small? 5 lbs or 20 lbs? Very helpful to know your dog's weight and age. We are frequently confounded by people who don't know these basics, nor can describe distinguishing marks on their pet.
Keep a collar on your pet with an ID tag that has your phone number on it. If your pet is microchipped, it should also have a microchip tag, so the person that finds your pet knows it is chipped and can have it scanned. A thief will be less likely to steal your pet if he knows the pet is microchipped!If your pet has gone missing:
Don't assume Fido or Miss Kitty will come back because "they always do". The minute you realize your pet is missing, start looking! Go all over your neighborhood, calling your pet, and also alerting your neighbors to keep an eye out. Do this every day - early morning and evening is probably your best bet. Don't assume your pet wouldn't go far; you would be surprised how far both dogs and cats can travel in a relatively short time.
If you live on or near any canals, don't limit your search to land. Once a dog or cat falls into a local canal, there is usually no easy way out. We have fished a large number of dogs out of canals over the years and there are probably a good number that are not spotted by anyone, who ultimately lose their struggle to stay afloat.
Also don't assume if your pet was stolen, there's no point in looking - we're always amazed by people who say "well, he was stolen so we figured we'd never see him again".
Make a flier! Include a clear photo of your pet (see above). The header should be in big bold letters whether "LOST DOG", "MISSING CAT" or something similarly simple. Whether you suspect your pet was stolen or not, it's often very helpful to put "REWARD" also in big letters.
Never put the amount of the reward, but if someone does find your pet, make sure you do offer one. (If someone tries to hold your pet hostage to negotiate a higher reward, play along, but also try to get their name, phone number and location if possible. Then call the police.) Include a simple, brief description, general area the pet went missing from, and most of all, phone numbers where you can be reached day and night.
Take the flier to the Humane Society, all local veterinarian's, dog groomers, and pet supply stores. Also post it as many other public places as you can including utility poles, shops, liquor stores, etc. Send it via email to all your friends and ask them to do the same. Post it on social media like Facebook and Twitter and ask others to share it.
If you suspect or know your pet was stolen, go to the police station and make a report; make sure they also have fliers. If you purchased or adopted your pet, keep your contracts, receipts etc in a safe place, as you may need them to reclaim your pet.
Take fliers to the utility companies and ask them to distribute to their meter readers, repairmen, and linemen. Those guys see every yard on the island on a monthly basis! So do sanitation workers. We know of several dogs that were reunited with their owners because power company workers spotted and recognized them from the fliers.
If your pet is a pure-bred, or appears to be one, take fliers to the Mail Boat, the domestic air terminal, general aviation terminal, and local marinas. Many dogs that are stolen may be shipped off island quickly, so don't waste time. No paperwork or proof of ownership is generally required for shipping dogs to another island.
Put an ad in the local newspaper and other media. Either use the flier, or at least the same information used on the flier. Call the local radio stations - many are glad to run brief announcements either at no charge, or for a nominal fee.
After you've done all this - keep looking! Visit - don't call - the Humane Society at least once a week to walk through and see if your pet has been picked up or brought in. We try hard but we are often extremely busy, and it's not impossible that a pet could be brought in, picked up, or even surrendered months or even years later by someone claiming to be the owner...and not recognized by the staff that accepts the pet. The staff member that took your initial information and logged the report may not be the staff member that brings in the pet, or accepts it at the front desk.
Don't give up too easily - many pets have been reunited after long periods of time thanks to owners' persistence and faith! Of course the best thing of all is to not lose a pet to begin with. Indoor pets are lost or stolen at a far lesser rate than outdoor dogs.
If your dogs live outdoors only, make sure your fence is 100% secure and your gates have locks. The HSGB discourages outdoor cats, but if you must let your cats outside, only do so during daytime hours when you can watch them. Never let them out at night to roam. This is when the majority of cats go missing or get attacked by dogs.
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