Helping lost pets get home faster

Losing a pet can be a stressful experience.

Fortunately, I have never lost a pet but I can empathize with those who have.

A few years ago, I was working as a kennel technician at Hardin County Animal Control. We had received a dog with a microchip. Upon reviewing the microchip information we contacted the person listed on file.

A man came into the shelter that very day with fliers looking for his dog that had been missing for two years. The man lived in Louisville and had come more than fifty miles to see if we had his dog.

I admire his perseverance. I surmise that most people would have given up the search or lost hope after some time, but this man and his family were dedicated to finding and bringing their beloved pet home.

We brought the dog out and he positively identified the dog as his long-lost companion. The photo on the flier even matched the dog.

What if there was a way to get a lost pet home faster? What if you could spare yourself all of the worry and heartache of losing a pet?

PetHub makes it possible.

PetHub is a company with an online system that helps keep track of your pet’s information and makes it easy to find them faster than ever.

Finding lost pets

When it comes to finding lost pets, the strategy is three-fold. First, begin the search immediately. As soon as you know your pet is lost, create posters and post them around the neighborhood. Second, activate your network. Tell everyone you know who cares about you and the well-being of your pet to be on the lookout. Visit animal shelters within 50 miles of your location and leave a poster with them. Finally, advertise. Put a lost pet notice in the paper, post your lost pet to your social media networks and social groups.

While these traditional methods are great for finding lost pets, the most important thing you can do is implement a loss prevention plan.

Dogs

Dogs are used to going outdoors so they have less fear of being outside than cats do. Because of this, dogs are more likely to roam and when they do, they can go miles and miles from home in a short time.

Cats

While dogs are more likely to roam, cats are most likely to stay close to home. For an indoor cat, Lorien said going outside is like “stepping into a big scary room.” Because of this, cats will stay around the home. Look high and low, look over and under bushes and in any small crevice your cat is able to squeeze into.

Leave the garage door partially open, with a space small enough for your cat to fit under. Put out a bowl of food, water, and a piece of clothing you have worn that has your scent. These things should entice your cat to come back inside.

Lost pet prevention

PetHub focuses on a lost pet prevention education. It’s cliche, but “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While prevention takes planning and work, it’s a whole lot easier than the effort required to find a lost pet.

Lorien Clemens, the VP of Marketing at PetHub sat down with me to talk about lost pet prevention. She said that there are really three areas to consider when it comes to lost pet prevention.

“Houdini”-Proof Your Home

Take time to look at your home from your pet’s perspective. Cats can learn how to open doors, so make sure they are well contained and that door handles cannot be easily manipulated.

Look for places where cats and dogs may easily fit through. Consider doors and windows.

Also, if you have an outdoor fence, make sure you examine around the perimeter for gaps that cats can squeeze through or for holes that dogs may dig and crawl through.

Many pet owners let the backyard be their dog’s babysitter. This is a big no-no. When dogs are left alone outside, they can become bored and may find ways to escape. Some dogs are capable of scaling fences.

Training

Training mostly applies to dogs, as cats may not take well to training. The most important thing you can teach your dog is a strong recall command. Your dog should be able to respond appropriately when you call her by name and say “Come.”

Restraints

Use an appropriate restraint when walking your dog.

A popular restraint is a retractable leash. Retractable leashes have many problems of their own, but Lorien pointed out that sometimes dogs can get a little wily and if you are not holding the handle appropriately, they can get away from you very easily.

The best leashes are the six-foot leashes. Lorien likes to use the ones that have two handles, one of which is located at half the length of the leash.

Pet identification

According to Lorien, when it comes to pet identification, she likes to think of it as a four-legged stool. If any of the legs of the stool is missing, you run the risk of not finding your pet.

External IDs

Your dog or cat should be equipped with a collar. The collar should be strong enough to withstand the elements. If the collar goes missing, so does any external identification tags you may have.

External IDs are worn on the collar.

PetHub’s Digital ID tags come equipped with a smartphone-scannable QR code. The QR code is linked to a database that includes a picture of your pet as well as a list of phone numbers to people who care about helping you find your pet.

In addition, the ID includes human-readable information such as the URL that corresponds to the QR code (in the event that you cannot scan the code) and a telephone number. Anyone who finds a dog or cat wearing one of these tags will be able to quickly identify the owner to ensure the pet’s prompt return.

Internal IDs

If the collar does go missing, it is helpful to have your pet microchipped. Microchips are a great tool for keeping track of lost pets but there are some problems with the chips.

Often, after implantation by a veterinarian, the microchips can migrate, meaning, they do not stay between the whithers of the animal. Instead, as the animal moves, the microchip may roll around and end up somewhere else in the body.

Veterinarians and shelter staff should be trained to scan the whole pet with a microchip scanner.

Another problem with microchips is that there isn’t a universal microchip scanner. Chips made by AVID can only be read with an AVID chip reader and those made by HomeAgain can only be read with a HomeAgain reader.

A final problem is that sometimes, pet owners may not register their pets or they might not update their pet’s information. Inaccurate or missing information means it is less likely that your pet will be returned to you.

Despite these problems, you should still consider having your pet microchipped. Like the opening story, the man was reunited with his dog after two years because his dog was microchipped.

License

Rabies license tags are another important identification piece. Your pet should wear these on their collar. If your pet is found by animal control, the rabies tag should be registered with the county. Animal control officers should be able to identify your cat or dog by looking up the information they have available in their license registry.

A benefit of having the license is that when you go to reclaim your animal, you will not incur a fine for not having a license.

Permanent ID

Finally, the fourth leg of the stool is a permanent ID like a tattoo. Military working dogs and show dogs often have a tattoo that identifies them. One drawback is that they may need to be retouched every couple of years. You also must keep the information updated. Another drawback is that it can be painful to tattoo your animal in the first place. And, tattoos may not be available in every location.

In closing, I want to stress the importance of pet identification. If you fail to provide your dog or cat with these basic forms of identification, you are putting your pet at risk. Save yourself a great deal of heartache and worry by using appropriate pet identification on your pets.

As an affiliate for PetHub, I absolutely love their product. Their digital ID tags are changing the return to owner rate. Before PetHub, the return to owner rate was approximately 11% for dogs and just under 2% for cats. After PetHub, the return to owner rate is now around 96% in under 24 hours. That’s amazing to me.

You can browse their selection of tags by visiting pethub.com. This is an affiliate link so if you buy a tag, I will earn a small commission.

Watch the video of my discussion with Lorien Clemens above or if you don’t have time to watch online, subscribe to The PetCorps Professional Pet Care Pawdcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher. New episodes drop every other Wednesday so you can listen on the go.

If you have any ideas for a future show, email me at pawdcast@petcorps.net.

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