When a household pet gets loose or runs away from home, it can be stressful for the pet owner when trying to find the pet and devastating if the pet never returns. While there are measures one can and should take to keep his or her pet secure, having a pet go missing can happen to anyone — even the most responsible pet owner.
Fortunately, there are preemptive steps pet owners can take to help a lost pet find its way home.
1. Make sure the pet is always wearing an ID Tag & Collar.
Although microchips are important (see below), a personalized ID tag with collar is probably the most common and easiest way to ID a pet. Pet owners should take care to ensure that a pet's ID tag and collar are in good condition and that the identifying information is visible and up to date. At a minimum, contact information on the ID tag should include a phone number. Home address, email address and microchip number are also common forms of contact information to include. Some municipalities require that pets be licensed where they are living. Pet owners should check about licensing their pet to receive a city/county issued ID tag. The goal is to get the pet home quickly, so pet owners should make it as easy as possible for the pet finder to get in touch.
2. Get the pet microchipped.
In the event a pet's ID tag falls off or is removed, a microchip can help locate the pet owner. However, a microchip is only useful when accurate information is associated with it, and the pet is taken to a vet or shelter where it can be scanned for the microchip. If a pet owner's address or phone number changes, he or she should update the contact information associated with the microchip. During vet visits, the pet owner can ask her vet to scan the pet's microchip to confirm the chip is still working properly. Also, the pet owner should have the contact information for the microchip company and the microchip's ID number in an easily accessible place, like on a mobile device or an online pet profile (more on this below).
3. Have the pet's current vet records, photos and identifying information readily available.
Contacting Animal Control, local shelters and veterinarians, posting "Lost Pet" flyers around the neighborhood and sharing on social media are steps a pet owner may take when trying to track down a missing pet. Having a central location for storing the pet's records (ex. photos, vaccination and vet history, microchip information) can be helpful for sharing the pet's details and for quickly and easily identifying the pet and proving ownership.
When a pet goes missing, having an ID tag and/or microchip with current info and pet records on hand can make all the difference. National Pet ID Week (#NationalPetIDWeek, #PetIDWeek) is the third week of April to urge pet owners to take the right steps to make sure missing pets have the best opportunity of finding their way back home.