It’s a pet owner’s worst fear: A beloved animal companion goes missing. According to the National Council of Pet Population Study & Policy, more than 10 million pets are lost each year. An estimated 1 in 3 pets will be lost during their lifetime, but only 1 in 10 pets will be found. Despite these startling numbers, many remain unaware of the best ways to reduce the chances that a pet will be lost or stolen, or of the resources available to help recover a missing pet.
To help educate pet owners about this problem, PetHub founded National Lost Pet Prevention Month in July. The program, now in its fourth year, continues to promote a national conversation about pet loss and to educate pet owners on pet loss prevention and lost pet recovery.
In this blog, we’ll examine some simple strategies you can put into action to reduce the chances of your pet being lost or stolen, and provide resources available to help recover a lost pet.
Preventing Pet Theft
Approximately 2 million pets are abducted each year. Some breeds (such as pitbulls and Rotweilers) are considered desirable in the brutal and illegal practice of dog fighting, while other breeds are often taken with the intent of making them into bait dogs for more aggressive animals to attack. In other cases, pets are abducted simply because they are friendly and the thief doesn’t want to go through the process of adopting or purchasing a pet legally.
Fortunately, there are basic measures you can take to prevent pet theft:
Never leave your pet unattended.
Keep outside dogs in fenced areas.
Protect outdoor property with gates and alarms.
Be sure your pet wears a collar and ID tag.
Get your pet an implantable microchip.
Editor’s Note: The American Kennel Club provides this list of the most commonly stolen dog breeds.
Preventing Pet Loss
Pets get lost for various reasons: Some run off after being frightened by a storm or loud noise such as fireworks, and others go exploring and cannot find their way home. Some get into fights with other animals and become injured or disoriented.
Regardless of the scenario, here are steps you can take to prevent pet loss:
Keep all your pet’s records, including proof of ownership, handy.
Be sure your pet has a collar and ID tag with your contact info.
Secure your pet’s environment and close common escape routes.
Secure pets during transport (especially when moving to a new home).
Be sure your pet wears a properly sized, slip-proof leash and collar.
What to Do if Your Pet is Lost or Stolen
Even the best loss-prevention plan isn’t 100% foolproof. If your pet does go missing, you are not without recourse.
Here are tips for recovering your lost pet:
If you suspect that your pet has been stolen, notify the police. This not only puts local law enforcement on the watch for your pet, it also documents that a crime has occurred.
Call or email local veterinarians, shelters, and groomers and inquire whether your pet may have been brought in for care. Sometimes a Good Samaritan will bring a lost or injured pet to the nearest vet, shelter, or pet care center.
Put up flyers in your community. Be sure to include a picture of your pet, a physical description, and your contact info.
Place a lost pet notice on internet bulletin boards. The more eyes searching for your pet, the better.
Contact local media (newspapers, radio stations, etc.). Let them know your situation and how they can reach you if your pet is recovered.
Beware of scams. If someone contacts you and demands money for the return of your pet, it’s likely a scam.
Remember that a little preparation, planning, and vigilance can go a long way to keeping your furry companions safe.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.