a dog on a very long lead

Be Proactive—Protect Your Pet Before It Goes Missing

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No one likes to think about the possibility of losing their beloved dog or cat, but the reality is that it can happen to any pet at anytime—and it happens a lot. In fact, every few seconds there’s a dog or cat owner somewhere going through the panic and heartbreak of losing their pet. But, you can reduce a lot of that emotional stress and protect your pet in the process. Greatly improve your chances of getting your pet back safe and sound by having a few safeguards in place before he or she ever goes missing.

Get Your Pet Chipped

Pet microchips are fairly inexpensive (about US$45) and they are available in most countries now. The chip is painlessly implanted under the skin by your vet to provide a unique and permanent identification number for your dog or cat; if someone finds your pet and takes it to a vet clinic or rescue shelter, or if the animal is recovered from a pet napper by the police, it will be scanned for a microchip. When scanned, the pet’s ID number is read from the chip and called into the pet recovery service in order to get your contact information. Success – your pet has been found! But, before a happy ending like this can happen you must have previously registered your pet’s chip into a pet recovery service database. People move and change contact information all the time so be sure to update your information whenever it changes. Don’t be lax about this because the chip will be useless in the recovery of your missing pet if you are.

Consider A GPS Pet Tracker

If you aren’t keen on a chip implant for any reason, then you can opt for a GPS device. These range in price from about $25 to $80 for the device and there is usually a monthly service charge as well for the GPS app. These trackers usually attach easily to the pet’s collar and won’t interfere with comfort or movement.  Just search for “pet gps tracker” or “pet gps tracking devices”—without quote marks—for a list of devices and retailers. Just be aware that implants are permanent whereas these devices and collars can be lost or removed. Remember that it’s your pet’s welfare at stake. Use other means of identifying your pet along with a tracking device and be sure to get a tracker which has good reviews—don’t just buy on price.

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Which is Better—A Chip or GPS? There are a lot of online queries about which device is better but, in fact, it’s pretty pointless to compare them because they operate by completely different technologies. The single purpose of the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip is to identify the pet and get his owner’s contact information. This usually happens after the pet has been found by someone who then takes it to a vet, a shelter or animal control. Whereas, the dual purpose of the GPS tracker is to first alert the owner when his pet crosses boundary “geofences” (established distances from his home base). Secondly, it pinpoints the pet’s location so it can be tracked and found by the owner. Each of these devices serves a unique purpose and each has its pluses and minuses. If you are interested in these devices, then discuss them with your vet before deciding to go with one or both of them. Consumer Reports is also a good place to start if you want more information on pet saving devices and technology.

Collar Tags

All dogs and cats should have easy-to-read collar tags—it’s amazing how many lost pets don’t have them!  Your pet’s collar should carry the vaccination tag provided by the vet, a city tag where required by law, and/or an ID tag with your phone number. Aluminum tags wear out quickly so always get steel or durable plastic tags. Collars can be lost and tags can fall off so replace them immediately if this happens. Also, be sure to update your contact information on the tags and at your vet clinic when you move or change phone numbers.

Photos and Videos

We all love sharing pictures of our pets and it has never been easier than now with smartphones and social media. You should protect your pet and be able to prove your ownership with a dedicated folder on your computer. You can then store your pet photos, videos, and other identifying information in that folder. It’s also a good idea to keep current images or videos on your smartphone or tablet. These will prove invaluable when you are making posters, searching for your lost or stolen pet, or if you need to prove ownership to law enforcement.

Please Close the Gate!

A door left open is an invitation for your dog or house cat to go explore the big outside world.  Make it a habit to always double check doors—especially when you leave home. Remember, loud noises like thunder or fireworks may spook your pet and cause it to run off. Always take extra precautions during such events.or when you’re just busy and can’t watch your pet’s activities. If you have kids at home, instruct them to close gates and doors behind them. And, always be home whenever a service technician or contractor is on your property—it’s not their job to keep track of your animals while they work. And, don’t forget, the liability is yours if your dog happens to bite anyone who is legitimately on your property. This may also be true if your dog attacks and bites another person or pet on public property. Always walk your dog on leash and maintain control at all times.

Neighborhood Walks

And, speaking of walks, if you’ve recently become a dog parent it’s a good idea to walk him or her on leash around your neighborhood. Not only is the exercise good for both of you, but it lets the dog become familiar with the neighbors (people and other pets), sights, smells, and sounds of the local area. This familiarity will help your dog find his way back home should he ever run off and become lost. If your town or neighborhood has a dog park then make good use of it too. This is a great way to socialize your pet and let the neighbors get to know him. This will help others recognize your dog if he gets loose and will make it easier for you to recover him. Many town parks and colleges also offer free or inexpensive dog training clinics. These are usually held at dog parks and cover the basic commands and obedience training.

Be Proactive—Save Your Pet!

If you’ve ever experienced the gut-wrenching anxiety of losing a pet then you know how critical the first few hours are to its safe recovery. We hope you never have to go through this painful ordeal but remember—every few seconds someone loses a beloved dog or cat and it can happen to you!  By being proactive and following some or all of these tips you can greatly increase your chances of saving your lost pet.

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