Prevent, Prepare, Protect: Confessions of a Rescue Mom
The number of lost and found pets is staggering and can be significantly lowered by just learning three words: prevent, prepare and protect. As an animal blogger and pet parent, I think about these three words often throughout the day; they’re triggered by a post on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, or something I see in person. Educating other people in how to apply these three easy-to-remember words will lead to fewer pets being placed at risk.
What can you do to prevent an animal in your care from getting out? How can you prepare yourself in case your pet does escape and gets lost? How do you protect a lost pet you find?
To prevent the loss of your pet is your first goal, and there are several steps you can take to mitigate harm or loss of your pet. First, every animal should be registered with the local authorities and wear a collar with your pet’s name, your name and current phone number. Microchip embedding is also a newer option which you can get done at a veterinarian’s office. It is also important that you get to know and understand your pet’s behaviour and/or habits, especially if the pet is new to you. Through understanding their needs and behaviours you can anticipate and alleviate problems before they happen.
If you happen to have a pet “Houdini”, here are a few simple solutions. If the pet is always trying to sneak out the door when someone opens it, think about installing a baby gate to a railing or doorway away from the entrance to block their escape. For the backyard escapee, install a pet run or secured tether line. Don’t forget to share pet habits and behaviour information with those who happen to be caring for your pet in your absence.
Are you prepared for your pet’s escape? First and foremost, stay calm. Have people that know your pet go searching for them in the area last seen. Have someone stay at home in case the pet returns on their own.
If your pet is not found within a reasonable time frame, another tool to use is social media. It is a powerful tool to help locate your pet if used early and appropriately. When posting on social media, be sure to include a recent photo along with name, breed, colour, last seen area and your contact information. PetLynx is a nationwide pet search database that has lots of helpful tips and tools like, print out a “missing animal” poster. Posters should be displayed in high foot and vehicle traffic areas in and about where your pet was last seen. Don’t forget to contact your local animal control center with your lost pet information, and don’t forget to inform and post that you found your pet on the various sites and services you contacted. Most importantly, stay positive and don’t give up!
How do you protect a suspected lost pet you find? First off, carefully approach the pet in a non-threatening manner. Remember that the pet may be scared, malnourished and or injured. If the pet shows any aggressive behaviour, talk softly, walk slowly and do not run after the pet. Inform the animal control authorities of the encounter. Try to stay with the pet and guide an animal control officer to your location; please don’t leave the pet if it is showing signs of injury. If the pet is able to be caught, check for a collar with a name tag and then call your local animal control and let them know you found a lost/stray animal if you haven’t already. If the animal control officer cannot make it there right away and you can provide the animal with shelter (warmth), water, food, as you are waiting for an animal control officer to arrive, check PetLynx for a lost pet post. If there is no post, consider taking a few pictures and writing a description of where the pet was located. Post them on social media.
Be a responsible pet owner and pet friend by remembering: prevent, prepare and protect.
Photography by Stacey Cobb