A pet goes missing every 2 seconds in America, yet only one in 10 families ever find their pet. These sobering statistics are a sad reminder of how easy it is for pets to become lost. July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month since animal shelters see an increase in pets in July. This increase is partly due to pets running away from Fourth of July fireworks, but fireworks are just one reason pets run off. Some run away searching for a mate, whereas others do it out of fear or simply for the thrill. You may think your pet is too well-behaved to run away, but you’d be surprised. Even the most vigilant pet parents can benefit from these tips and tricks for preventing lost pets.
Spaying and neutering is one of the easiest ways to keep your pet from getting lost. Most dogs that end up in shelters are not spayed or neutered, and a big reason for this is mating-related roaming. Female animals tend to roam when they're in heat, and intact males will seek them out even from miles away. Besides preventing roaming, sterilizing your pet can also minimize aggression and territorial marking.
If you're like most pet parents with a fenced-in backyard, you probably let your pet potty outside unsupervised, thinking they can't get out since it's fenced. But dogs and cats are particularly adept at slipping through cracks, both figuratively and literally.Make sure to mend any broken boards in the fence as you find them, and walk your fence line regularly to check for areas where your pet could crawl underneath. You may also want to install an underground fence for added security.
It's just as important to secure the inside of your home too. If possible, block off entryways with doggy gates to keep dogs from getting away when someone comes in or out. It may be tempting to install a doggy door for convenience, but these give dogs an easy escape route, especially if your backyard isn't secure.
Training a pet to have reliable recall is so important for preventing runaways, especially if your pet is prone to chasing other animals. Reliable recall is the consistent reliability of a pet to come when you call them—regardless of distractions. What's more, reliable recall can be a lifesaving skill, protecting pets from being hit by cars or getting in a fight with other animals. Here’s a helpful how-to guide on training a dog to come with distractions.
No matter how careful you are with your dog, there is always a chance your pet could get lost. Here are a few ways to make your pet more easily locatable should they become lost.
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to make your pet identifiable is to put ID and rabies tags on their collar. Most states require vets to issue pets a rabies tag when they get their vaccines. Rabies tags include a traceable number that is linked to the pet parent in the vet database. ID tags are just as, if not more important, since they have owner contact information directly on them. When designing your pet's ID tags be sure you have your phone number as well as a backup number or two and update them any time your contact information changes.
A GPS collar is exactly what it sounds like, a geo-location transmitter attached to a collar. Depending on the type of transmitter, it will send signals to satellites or cell phone towers, and the signal is then redirected to your phone. Typically, GPS collars are connected to an app where you can see your pet's location on a map at any given time. These devices are particularly useful for pets that are prone to running away. The only downside to GPS collars is they tend to be expensive, but it's a small price to pay to keep your furbaby safe.
One of the first things vets and shelters do when they find a pet is to scan them for a microchip implant. Microchips contain essential data like the pet's health conditions, primary vet, and most importantly, the owner's information.
Microchips are injected just under the surface of the skin, usually on the dog's shoulder, but the injection site can vary. Pet microchips are similar in size to a single grain of rice and cause little to no pain for pets.
Tags and engraved collars can identify your pet, but these may slip off your dog in the midst of running away; however, a microchip is impossible to lose. Microchips aren't perfect though, they can't show you your dog's location as of yet, but technology is constantly evolving.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that goes lost pet prevention too. Keep your pet safe by sterilizing your pet, securing your home, and training your pet to come when you call. Issuing your pet a set of ID tags and a microchip can help you to locate them faster should you get separated. Keep an eye on your pet at all times when you're home, and use a leash when you're out and about. If you follow these simple rules, your pet's chances of getting lost is much lower.