The most important thing you can do if you own a dog or a cat (cats: use break away collars in case of strangulation), is to put a tag on your animal with your contact information. Many dogs are turned over to shelters because their owners cannot be found. Here are some tips if your animal gets out, what you should do to increase your chance of finding it.
Put a tag on your dog´s or cat’s collar. You can get them cheap at Wal-Mart, Petsmart or other online vendors. Put your name, address, and phone number on it. Or at least list your phone number, two if room allows. Be sure to put the area code and include your cell, that way if you are travelling someone can reach you. And make sure the collar is on your pet. We get countless calls of people who just had their pet groomed and it slipped out and they had yet to put the collar back on, so remember to put it back on ASAP!
Get your animal microchipped. Call around to different vets to find rates. My vet charged $35 but I have heard of people paying upwards of $100. If you cannot find it for a reasonable price try your local rescue groups to see if they have any events where they microchip for a discounted price. At many events I have seen booths set up where vets microchip for like $20. Check out the different types of microchips also whether it is AVID, Home Again, etc. If your animal is microchipped, if it is picked up by Animal Control or brought to a vet they can trace it back to you even if the collar was removed. Most chip companies have a one time fee to put the information in your name and then an option for other services with a yearly fee. Speak with the person microchipping yoru animal to find out if you need to do it or if they do – Petsmart does it themselves, others don´t. Also do not forget to put the microchip in your name if you´ve adopted an animal and they have a preexisting microchip. It is a shame the amount of animals that go to Animal Controls who are chipped but the owner neglected to get the information transferred over to them. All you have to do is fill out a form and mail it in to have the piece of mind that your animal will always be traced back to you. Every year have your vet check that the chip is still in place and is able to be read; if it no longer works or if it has migrated in their body get another one implanted. Also be sure to keep the contact information up to date through whatever site it´s registered through.
Post Flyers. If your dog gets out post flyers at least within 5 miles of your home. Dogs can easily travel 4 miles in a day; they usually travel in the morning and early evening when it is coolest. We had a dog escape from a foster home on day two and chased her for 3 weeks. We received all our calls on her in the early morning and early evening. We finally got her. Post flyers at all your local vets in case someone finds them and contacts them.
Place ads in papers & online. When you loose an animal put a free ad in the paper and be specific on what the animal is and where it disappeared. Alot of people check this. If you have found a dog you want to be cautious as to what you put in the paper so people who are interested in research animals and dogs for dog fighting will not get the animal. Just post “small dog found in Tara Blvd Area’. That way if someone calls you can ask questions about the dog such as what breed, color, sex, spayed/neutered or fertile, collar, etc. Never ask leading questions like is it a husky, ask what breed the dog is or what sex, is it intact or altered, etc. Put an ad on Craigslist and other online forums. I think there are some like Find Toto.com, etc. Some of these services require payment but it is worth it because they can do alot of your legwork for you, like contacting all local vets and rescue organizations. Don´t forget Facebook. There are now pages such as Lost Pets of Baton Rouge and Lost Pets of Livingston.
Contact local Rescues. Post to all the local rescues on Facebook in addition to emailing them/calling them since they usually get contacted about animals when people find them. You would be amazed at how many reunions there are. Plus a lot of people at these rescues will forward information on to their wide network of contacts, who will forward it on, who will forward it on… You´d be surprised just how deep the rescue organization can be! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org details of where and when your animal was last seen with pictures and we will help you as much as we can.
Call your local Animal Control´s. A lot of times they cannot tell you if a specific animal has come in and you will have to go down and personally look: In fact, it is recommended that you go down and look due to the large amount of animals surrendered on a daily basis. In West Baton Rouge, they could probably tell you on the phone.
Local Animal Control’s
East Baton Rouge Parish 225-774-7700
West Baton Rouge Parish 225-336-2428
Denham Springs (city limits) 225-664-4472
Livingston Parish (Walker) 225-665-3910
Ascension Parish 225-675-6557
Have physical proof that your dog or cat belongs to you. Have your vet records and recent, good, photos of your dog. Cute photos that do not show what your dog actually looks like will not help you get them back. They need to be in focus and hopefully show your dog in a standing, sitting and laying pose. Also showing any unique properties, such as coloration patterns, scars, ears only go up, etc. My dog has one blue eye and one brown eye so that is a great marker but any physical characteristic that can be verified over the phone will work.
Talk to local kids. As you are passing out flyers talk to everyone but especially kids. Kids usually notice when a new dog has come into the neighborhood.
The best way to recover a lost CAT is by setting out a humane trap. I would like to highlight that the best and most successful way of getting back a lost cat is by setting out a trap. Cats tend to circulate in familiar places and while he or she may not come back home waiting to be let in they are likely in the area. The best way to get them back is to set a trap near your home with their favorite toys or food, a blanket that smells familiar, etc. You can rent a trap from us for $50 if you’d like, please simply email us at email@example.com and let us know.
Be aggressive in your search for your animal. The more you put into it the better the chance you will get your dog back. Remember the best thing you can do is take action so this does not happen to you, reinforce places in your yard where your animal could get out. Make sure when people come over they know to not let your animal out, and to always keep your door closed. You cannot prepare for everything and accidents do happen but if you at least make sure your animal has proper identification, cats too, then you should be well on your way to getting your animal back.