For nearly a decade, the month of July has been chosen to bring awareness to the issue of missing and runaway pets, as well as to advocate for National Pet Loss Prevention. Over ten million felines and canines are reported missing every year, and that’s just within the U.S. Sadly, just a fraction – an estimated 1 in 10 – of lost dogs and cats ever find their way home.
With summer Holidays, family vacations, and so many outdoor activities, pets are extremely susceptible to increased anxiety. They also have more opportunities to slip by their owners unnoticed. As a result, rescues and animal shelters are busier than ever during this time of the year.
In 2014, Pethub launched National Lost Pet Prevention Month as a response to the missing pet crisis. It’s been running strong since then, sparking important discussions that cover all the ways dog and cat parents can help keep their furry babies safe.
If you’re wondering what you can do to decrease the chances your own pet – or the pets you care for – become yet another statistic in the missing pet index, here are some excellent tips, tricks, and products to put your mind at ease.
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
Fur children, like toddlers, can get distracted or excited and wander too far in the blink of an eye. Even though watching them carefully may seem like common sense, the bulk of missing animals were unattended at the time they managed to scamper away. Whenever possible, make sure your pets are in your line of sight when spending time outside. Similarly, be aware when walking out the door, to make sure your pet hasn’t followed you. All too often, dogs and cats who slipped outside unnoticed are picked up by neighbors, mistaken as strays, and taken to the shelter.
While keeping an eye on your animal sounds wonderful in theory, it isn’t always possible. Work commitments, pet-free travel, errands, chores, and more are all great examples of instances where your pet may be left on its own. Thankfully, technology exists to help you out. Geo-trackers, like the two included for readers below, can be an extra set of eyes.
With the help of the Tractive app, pet parents who have purchased a tractive GPS device can monitor their pet’s location any time that they’re away. The best part? There aren’t limitations on how far the pet can be tracked from. Wherever they go, they’ll be covered!
Cost: requires a Tractive GPS device (and subscription plan purchase at checkout)
Like the tracking app above, Whistle is called a companion app. In other words, pet owners need a GPS enabled Whistle smart device before the app will work. Options for both dogs and cats are available. Once the device is in the place, Whistle will be able to monitor the pet’s location, give escape alerts, and send you pet reminders. It also lets you track your pet’s overall wellness behaviors, including activity levels and calories burned in a day. It even has features that let owners speak to certified vets via tele-health calls.
Cost: requires a GPS-enabled Whistle smart device and subscription plan purchase at checkout
Microchip implants are smaller than a grain of rice, and use something called radio-frequency identification (RFID) to track your pet’s location. Each chip is embedded with identifying numbers, and those numbers are database registered to the pet’s last known address. If a dog or a cat hasn’t been microchipped, it drives up costs for shelters, who wind up wasting limited money and resources on dogs and cats that already have loving homes. It also becomes a lot harder to challenge claims from others that the animal is theirs.
Despite the noted benefits, microchipping still continues to pose ethical issues for many. Most pets who have been in a shelter or rescue were already been chipped before being put up for adoption, but if your fur baby hasn’t been chipped or you’d simply you’d like to read more about the pros and cons, this article may help: What Are The Pros and Cons of Dog Microchipping?
Fireworks, loud crowds, woodland animals, and other dogs are only a few of the reasons your canine may stray from your side, even if wearing a leash. While teaching your dog how to sit, stay, and even come to you when called isn’t guaranteed to work, it may make all the difference if they break away.
Make sure safety measures are always kept in place. It’s crucial to give your dog(s) playtime outdoors, but only when you’re home. Letting them out unattended, even if your yard is fenced, is never recommended for long stretches of time. It’s easier than you may realize for a dog to jump over enclosures or dig their way under a gate.
It’s also dangerous for reasons other than unplanned escapes. Bad weather, heat, other animals, and dognappers all pose huge threats. You wouldn’t leave your human baby in a yard alone. While fur babies give some more leeway, you (or their sitter) really need to be within the general vicinity if letting them outside. This is true even for cats. When possible, cats should be kept in the house. The dangers of letting them wander are extremely high.
Making sure your pet is wearing not only a collar, but one with your address and telephone number, is of the utmost importance. If your missing dog or cat is found by someone in the neighborhood or a good samaritan, ID tags could make all the difference in getting them home. It’s certainly the fastest way, and also less expensive than the other ID options. You should also register your pet with your city, town, or local animal authorities.
Keeping any documents that show your proof of ownership in an easily accessible, organized location can be very beneficial. The faster you can check in with your town or city shelters, the better chance you have to get your pet home safe and sound. Documents to keep inside your dog or cat’s “care folder” include vaccination papers, the name and address of your veterinarian, family photos (with fur babies present), and their adoption certificates. The photos will also be useful in case you don’t find your pet at a shelter, and need to make flyers for public awareness.
The more eyes looking for your pet, the higher the likelihood that they’ll be spotted and returned!
This tip may seem irrelevant when it comes to the Lost Pet Prevention initiative, but pets who aren’t fixed often try to find mates, which leads to them straying from home. To learn more about spaying and neutering, call (and or visit) your local veterinarian or pet clinic.
If, despite your best efforts, your four-legged friend still gets away (or you happen to find someone else’s furry companion roaming around unattended), be sure to take the steps below as soon as you possibly can:
With these precautions in place, your pet is far less likely to get lost or go missing. For most of us, our pets are members of the family and we would do anything to keep them safe. Even well trained Emotional Support Animals and Psychiatric Service Dogs have moments that may cause a lapse in judgement. It’s best to always be as prepared as possible. If you’d like more information, the Humane Society also has a plethora of useful prevention ideas.
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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