According to recent statistics, there are nearly 70 million stray animals in the United States, and only about six to eight million enter the nation’s shelters. Additionally, only two percent of stray cats are reclaimed by their owners compared to the (still low) number of 30% for dogs.
July is Lost Pet Prevention Month. There are many ways to insure your pet’s safety and offer hope for a safe return in case it does become lost.
My husband and I have a variety of ways to keep our pets safe. We use the Whistle and Marco Polo on our dogs, especially when we travel, and all of our pets have microchips. Our cats are indoor animals with cat trees and other furnishings near windows to give them outdoor viewing opportunities. The dogs also live inside and when they are outside in our 6-foot wooden fence backyard for extended periods of time, we are with them. They also wear collars with ID tags.
Losing a pet is difficult. I have walked that road before, thankfully, with a happy ending. I also have friends whose pets have gone missing, one lost her dog for nearly three weeks before successfully finding her precious pup and bringing her home.
For your sake and the sake of your furry family members, do all you can to help them NOT become a lost pet statistic.
Every summer first responders are called to the scene of a child or pet left in a car. Already in 2017, 15 children have died, most of them in Texas. Pets, especially dogs, suffer the same deadly fate, and K-9 units are not immune; even in my own community, a K-9 four-legged officer named Nyx died after left in a hot car three years ago. Although it’s fun for us to take our pets on a car ride, summer is not the best season to do so. Summer and pets and cars can lead to tragedy, so it’s best to leave your furry companion in the coolness of the house while you are out and about.
The hot season poses another threat to our pets: fireworks. Although we humans may think the colorful display to be amazing and we tend to ignore the noise, the flashes, booms, and shrills of fireworks upset many pets. A dog’s ears are more sensitive than a human’s; in fact, dogs hear higher frequencies than people and they hear much better than we do. Therefore, the noise from fireworks is worse for them. During the 4th of July week, many pets escape, becoming lost, which can lead to death being hit by a car or land the animal as a stray at the city shelter/pound. In fact, reports say shelters receive more animals during the 4th of July week than any other time. Therefore, keep your pets secure in a room in your home with comforting things like its pet bed and toys, as well as food and water. Give your pet a safe place to be inside your home while firework displays, sparklers, and other 4th of July paraphernalia are being used.
There are many things you can do to help your pet be safe during this time of year; here are few ideas:
Learn more summer and Fourth of July safety tips at these websites:
Have a wonderful week!
When our blind dog Sage became lost in a Wyoming forest in 2003, my husband and I called on friends and family as well as strangers to help locate her. At that time, even cell phones were fairly new and there wasn’t much cell service in the area where she became lost. We went door-to-door and campground-to-campground throughout the timbered landscape, talking with people and hanging up posters. Although my husband had a cell phone, it did little good camping in the backwoods, so our posters and our face-to-face meetings provided a house phone number of a friend living in town. Because people came to our aid, we were able to bring our lost girl home and, thankfully, safe and sound.
Not everyone who loses a pet, particularly in the woods, is so fortunate. But now, 13 years later, there are many additional avenues by which a lost pet can return home safely, and that includes digital and other electronic means.
Facebook is a great way to enlist the help of a community when a pet goes missing. In my community of Casper, Wyoming, there are at least three Facebook pages for lost and found pets: Casper Pets LostNFound (https://www.facebook.com/groups/417171321683716/), Casper/Wyoming Missing Canines (https://www.facebook.com/wyomissingcanine/?fref=ts) and Wyoming Missing Canines (https://www.facebook.com/groups/wymissingK9s/) Administrators of these pages help spread the word about dogs, cats, even birds that are lost or those strays which have been found, and people who visit these sites are also very good about sharing when an animal has gone missing or one is found by a Good Samaritan. Numerous pets have been reunited with their worried owners because of these digital villages of caring people.
Microchipping a pet also has its positive advantages. HomeAgain is the company we have used (https://public.homeagain.com/) but there are others. At times I receive an email notifying about a lost pet in our community with a HomeAgain chip. Pet owners need to be responsible and keep the chip up-to-date with their latest address and phone number and renew the chip when the time comes. It does the Casper animal sheltering organizations no good to receive a lost pet with a microchip with outdated contact information or a chip that is no longer registered.
A fairly new technology are apps for SmartPhones that can help track pets, including ones made by Garmin and Tractive. Using satellite and GPS, lost pets can be found more readily using such an application. Check out a review of the various products at http://pet-tracking-devices-review.toptenreviews.com to learn more about this technology and see if it might be helpful for you and your pet as well as learn about the various products available.
Because we have property in a forested area with little to no cell phone service, the satellite GPS doesn’t do us much good. But, my husband learned of a product that doesn’t rely on cell phones; instead, the Marco Polo is similar to a tracking device used by wildlife biologists to locate wildlife species being researched. A tracking component attaches to the pet’s collar and a wand device then picks up the signal, letting an owner know if the pet is close by or far away (see http://eurekaproducts.com/). Because Mary, our springer/cocker mix, is like Sage in that she gets on a scent of a squirrel or deer and could disappear in a heartbeat, we keep the device on Mary’s collar when we’re visiting our cabin site and when we travel out of town.
In addition to traditional identification tags, some of these systems can come in handy to help pets and their owners reunite. From Facebook communities and Good Samaritans to tracking devices and microchips, it can take a village to bring a lost pet home. Thankfully, there are still concerned and caring people who help reunite animals with their owners.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.