Best Tips to Do Before Your Pet is Lost

1. Foremost and most obvious it to keep an eye on your pet. Do not leave gates, doors, or windows open.  A bird could easily fly out a window. A dog can walk out a gate or door and start walking and then become disoriented. One thing that can help your lost dog, is to walk him throughout the neighborhood every day. Using several different ways back to your house over and over again can help the dog learn the site and scenes that if he happens to wander off, he might be able to find his/her way back on their own. Challenge your dog and say "let's go home" and let him lead you home.  Correcting him when necessary.

2. Always have a secure collar on dogs and cats with proper identification tags.  One may not want to leave their name or address on such tags, but a phone number is certainly the best piece of information.  You may even want to include an additional tag with a vet's number, the pet's petsitting service, or a neighbor or other member of the family.  People change phone numbers nowadays and sometimes forget to update the pet tag.

3.  As a backup to the tag, one can write in permanent marker on the inside of the collar itself the name of pet and person to contact.

4. Keeping your pet up to date with its rabies shot is not only the law, but the owner can be traced back to the rabies tag number.

5.  We here at Bow Wows, Meows & More highly recommends getting your pet microchipped.  And because there are several manufacturers producing microchips, we suggest getting one of each chip which is only two.  We say this as not every scanner in a vet's office etc. can read both microchips.  Your pet may be chipped, but they just cannot tell as they only have one type of scanner.  Lastly, remember if you move update your address records with the chip company.  Your pet cannot be returned, if they cannot find your new address.

6. Keep a pet on a leash unless enclosed in a fenced in area.  Did you know the biggest killer to male dogs is getting hit by a car as they were unleashed and took off as they smelled the scent of a dog in heat?

7. If you do have a fenced in yard area, it is wise to check periodically on the pet if you cannot stay with them the whole time.  Did you know that over 1.5 million dogs are stolen each year from fenced in yards or other unwatched areas.

8. Training your dog also is a big help, if they tend to wander off in your company and are unleashed.  Command like sit, stay, stop, come here can be your dog's biggest life saver from perhaps running into traffic.

9. Get to know your neighbors and other people in the neighborhood.  If they happen to see your pet in the neighborhood roming the streets unattended, they can perhaps return them to you or alert you immediately.

10.  Have a bird, they can be banded or microchipped.  Also, for pets, you can get a DNA fingerprint of your pet and have it on record.  This way if anyone ever has your pet and will not return it.  The DNA fingerprint can help, as well as the microchip.

11.  Have current pictures of your pet, just in case you need to make any 'Lost Pet' signs to hang up in the neighborhood.

Best Steps to Take if You Lost Your Pet

1.  Do not delay in looking for them.  Begin not only looking in the immediate vicinity, but knock on neighbors' doors and see if they had seen the pet.  They may be your best lead, as well as, they may volunteer in the search.

2.  Hand out and post fliers with your pet's picture on them and your phone number. You can download sample fliers on our Resources Page under the Forms column.  Call us at Bow Wows, Meows & More to assist you putting up the fliers or making the fliers.  Your pet is just as much our family as well.

3.  Go to local animal shelters and government agencies.  Hand them the flier.  Post it on the wall as well while there.  It is suggested you go to the physical locations rather than call.  So many pets look alike and some being in a different situation and locked up are too afraid to respond to their own names at times.  Just because your pet may have had a collar on when lost, does not mean it was still attached when delivered to the shelter.  How often should you go to the shelter?  Bow Wows, Meows & More suggests every other day as some shelters will put the animal asleep after a few days if not claimed or found a temporary home at another shelter.  Don't just call your local shelters, call all shelters within 25 miles.

4.  Put an ad in your local paper.  Also, place ads online on Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, LostPets.comFidoFinderPetFinder, and any other site you can find.

5.  In Miami area, you can call 311 to report a lost pet to the police.

6.  Update your voicemail to let callers know about your lost pet.

7.  Go to all of your social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,.......and broadcast out a message detailing your pet's situation.  Be sure to let them know what neighborhood the pet was last seen in.  And ask them to forward your message.

8.  If you lost your pet while traveling, post fliers as necessary, alert the authorities, and shelters.  Note, it is always a good idea before letting your dog/cat out of the car while away from home, that they always be leashed.  A pet unleashed that gets startled may runoff and not find their way back being unfamiliar with the surroundings.

9. If there are any businesses in the neighborhood, ask them if you can post a flier in their window.  Also, post fliers in local pet shops.  Someone who may find your pet, may not have pet food at home and head to the local pet store to buy some.

10. Don't give up, continue looking and following up with shelters.

11.  If you do find your pet, don't forget to take down all fliers, cancel online ads, and notify the various shelters. This reduces existing paperwork and increases the shelters'' ability to match other lost pets with their owners.

 What to Do If You Found a Pet

1.  Approach the animal with caution.  You do not want to spook him and have them run into traffic or worse yet bite you.  Possibly coax them with some water or a piece of food being careful not to be bitten.

2.  If you are able to befriend the animal, secure him with something as simple as your shoe laces to make a leash if need be. If the dog is in its own neighborhood, it may know the command "Go home" and lead you there.

3.  Knock on a few doors in the neighborhood where found and ask them if they know whose pet it is.  Again, think safety first.  If you are unsure of the neighborhood, and able to bring the pet to a safe location SAFELY without getting bit by the animal, do so.  Remember, the animal may become frightened in a car and bite you, cause unsafe driving conditions, or lodge itself under a seat or dashboard.

4.  You may even want to call the police immediately and let them know you found an animal. This way they can take it to a shelter or animal services to see if the animal has been microchipped. If you happen to fall in love with the pet already, the shelter may opt for you to become its foster home until claimed by the rightful owner.

5. Hang fliers in the neighboorhood, post ads online ( Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, LostPets.comFidoFinderPetFinder, and any other site you can find) and in your local newspaper.  Note, most newspapers allow free ads for 'Found' pets.  You may also contact us to help with this as Bow Wows, Meows & More does offer Lost & Found Services.

6. If you choose to take the pet home, remember that being the pet was outside on its own (who knows for how long), it may have possibly picked up fleas or ticks that need to be washed off.  A shelter may wash him for you as well as providing low cost or free vaccinations.

7. Check the area for "Lost ___" posters, but just remember the pet may have walked a few miles from home, so check several neighborhoods.  Also, if you are holding the pet at home until claimed, be sure to check with the shelters and police about any Lost Pet reports matching the description of the animal you are holding every few days.

8.  If you do get phone calls, from perhaps a flier or ad you posted, let the caller describe the pet to you.  Do not describe it to them. They may very well not be the owner, but just posing as the owner for unscrupulous reasons. You can also have them meet you at a vet's place, police or fire station for an added security measure and safety on your side.

9.  If the pet is returned to its owner, remember to take down any fliers posted in the neighborhood to prevent further calls to you and to prevent the signs from just becoming litter in the neighborhoods.

10.  If the owner does offer you a reward, and you feel uncomfortable about taking the award, you can suggest to them to donate the reward money to a local shelter.  This donated money can help someone else's pet live a little longer in a shelter.