When friends of mine were looking for a home in another state, they left their dog in the care of a dog sitter. When the sitter let Bear out in the backyard, the mastiff lab mix jumped the fence and ran away. After searching the neighborhood tirelessly, the sitter had to give up and return to her home. Bear wasn’t seen again, but my friends knew he had returned to their home after the sitter left. His muddy pawprints on the door were a dead giveaway. Not finding anyone home to let him in, Bear wandered away again.
There are many reasons pets can get lost, from inclement weather, to disturbances in their schedules, to loud sounds like fireworks. Which is why, during this month of July, when there are backyard barbecues galore, trips with furry friends to far off places, and increased incidences of thunderstorms, it is a good idea to brush up on tips to keep your pet from running away, and to microchip if you haven’t already.
Looking for some cold, hard stats on lost pets, I went to my city’s animal control website and searched for the number of dogs and cats they took in for the year 2016. Nearly 6500 dogs and 4000 cats were taken in by the shelter. While this number doesn’t even begin to represent the countless pets whose pictures can be seen on lamp posts and neighborhood share sites and may or may not be found eventually, it does give a grim picture of the sheer number of pets who are lost every year.
So, what are some ways you can protect your dog or cat from becoming lost?
- Spay or neuter your dog. Some dogs like to roam, or stray away from home According to PetMD’s blogpost, Running Away from Home and Marking Territory in Dogs, “Dogs will roam to find mates, to explore, and to mark their territory.” If your dog is not spayed or neutered, PetPartners can help. Check out their defender plus coverage which allows for either spaying/neutering or a dental cleaning per year. You can utilize this plan by choosing to have your dog spayed/neutered during the first year and then a dental cleaning each subsequent year. Once your dog has been spayed or neutered, he will be less likely to roam.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, or has access to a backyard with a fence. Playing with your dog and walking him can spend a lot of energy and help him not to become physically frustrated. If you work outside of the home, consider hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to a doggie day-care. Also, make sure your dog cannot jump your fence when he is outside. We learned the hard way that there is not much stopping our golden from going after a ball, even a four and a half foot high fence. Learn your dog’s habits and tendencies, so you can always be one step ahead of him.
- Keep your cat indoors. In her post, Grrrrrr. Problem with Stray Cats?, Dr. Patty Khuly laments the fact that cat owners let their cats roam free outside. According to her, “even healthy outdoor cats (according to basic epidemiologic principles) add to the proliferation of disease. Not to mention the safety concerns inherent in living (even partially) outdoors.” Cats are naturally curious, and prone to wandering off, putting themselves and other animals at risk.
- Microchip your dog and/or cat. According to the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, a study of over 7,700 stray animals showed dogs with microchips were reunited with their owners 52.2% of the time, compared to dogs without chips who were returned to their owners only 21.9% of the time. Cats with chips went back home 38.5% of the time and those without chips were returned to their owners only 1.8% of the time. Make sure to update your information in the microchip registry database anytime it changes.
If you’re still wondering about Bear, I am happy to report that he was successfully rehomed with a loving family in my friend’s former town. Thanks to the shelters around the world who work hard to find abodes abounding in love for our furry friends, my friend can rest easy knowing Bear is being well taken care of. I don’t want to run the risk of my Hattie Bear being separated from me, so she wears a collar with our info and has a microchip, linked to our home number and address. How about your pet? PetPartners offers a preventative care endorsement to help with the cost of microchipping. Don’t delay. Microchip today!