One of the lovelier aspects of Facebook is that I get to see posts from friends, showing me their children, their lives, and the animals that enrich their lives. But Facebook also has a downside: loss. Bridger Vet has a very active Facebook page, we also see feeds regarding lost pets, missing dogs, stolen horses, found animals of every description. And truly, it breaks my heart. So, what are some easy, common-sense things that you can do to ensure that your pets and animals stay with you?
Know Your Pain Points
On July 4th, I received this http://www.oatmeal.com comic from at least six people, and yes, I found it to be very funny. I can only hope that everyone’s dogs love them enough to save them room at the end of the world. It does illustrate, however, just how much many dogs detest things that go boom in the night.
- Independence Day–The USA’s July 4th holiday is not popular amongst the animal kingdom because of fireworks and loud noises. Some people (like me and my beloved) generally stay home to reassure our dogs that nothing bad is happening, but the best idea I ever heard of was from a couple that turned July 4th into a canine holiday. They turned up the stereo and spent the evening playing dog games. If your dog doesn’t know the fireworks are happening, it is less likely to make a break for it.
- Thunderstorms–Back in the days of Muddy and Reba, Muddy headed for the closet if she even thought it looked like rain. Thunder is often as popular with dogs as fireworks are. We went so far as to make our closet design include a space for Muddy to hide if she heard noises she didn’t like. If you know that your dog is skittish and likely to make a break for it during storms, it is perhaps better to keep them inside with you.
- Walkabouts–Despite good fences and a life most dogs would envy, my friend Amanda has a dog that likes to go on walkabouts. If you have a dog that likes to be out as much as it does in, walking your fenceline to check for holes and easy escape points on a regular basis is a good idea. It might also help to stay on good terms with neighbors that know to contact you should they see that your dog has made a break for it. Again.
- Wile E. Coyote–Mother Nature is not your friend. If you have cats or small dogs, do not leave them unattended outdoors as coyotes, owls, and bobcats have been known to pick up small animals. If your small animals spend time outside, make certain to keep an eye on them.
Make Identification Easy
Here are some easy ways to make it easy for someone to identify and then contact you in the case that your animal goes missing.
- Rabies tags–Rabies tags are perhaps the easiest way to provide identification and contact information for a dog or cat. On every rabies tag is a license number, which is recorded by the veterinarian that performed that vaccination, as well as the phone number of that veterinarian. Veterinary clinics can cross-reference a rabies license number and contact you that your animal has been found. As an added bonus, people are more likely to approach an animal that they can see has a rabies tag.
- Microchipping is another easy way to supply identification for your pets. It is most often done for small animals, but it can be done for horses and cattle as well. A microchip is inserted into the loose skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. The microchip number is registered with the company that issues the chip along with your contact information and your veterinarian’s contact information. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics can read the microchip for lost animals that enter the facility and then contact the registered owner. As an added bonus, microchips cannot fall off.
- Tattooing–Tattooing is not a common form of marking small animals, but it is often done for former military animals, racehorses, or cattle. Registration papers will often contain information regarding tattoo numbers, and these numbers should be included in any description of a missing pet.
- Identification tags and collars–It’s quite easy to order personalized tags and collars with your contact information. This can be done at a local pet store, online, or I’ve even heard of leatherworkers making customized collars with that information.
I very much hope that no one ever loses or has an animal go missing, but in the case that it does, make it as easy as possible for your pet to find you and come home.