The telephone pole at the entrance to our neighborhood has a large red sign, ‘Thank you! We found our lost cat.’ What relief the owners must have felt.
How many lost animals find their way home? Much depends on how fast owners act and how persistent they are. My neighbors were lucky for several reasons. Their cat was alive, unharmed and returned to them. Some lost pets are never found, some are found but not alive.
Technology has improved our ability to search for lost pets online as well as on foot. If you lose -- or find -- an animal here are some tips for reuniting pet with his or her family. The SPCA Tampa also posts photos of Lost and Found Pets on its website.
If You Lose a Pet
1.) Check your county government animal shelter for online reporting. Don’t stop there. Visit immediately to look, then go back at least every three days, if not more.
2.) File lost pet reports with local animal shelters; most have online systems. Post on Craigslist, too.
3.) Place flyers around your neighborhood. (Use brightly colored paper and be sure your pet's photo is included.)
4.)Take the flyers to local veterinarian offices, emergency clinics and pet groomers/sitters locations near you.
5.) Ask your neighbors and your postal carrier if they have seen your pet. There are several online services that will help you for a fee. E-alerts go to targeted zip codes: www.FindToto.com, www.PetHarbor.com
6.) Place a lost pet ad in local newspapers and read the lost/found section. (Some papers may offer free listings to help.)
7.) Look thorougly in bushes and yards in your neighborhood. The pet may be close by but out of sight. A good time to check is when it is quiet outdoors, so you can hear your animal if he or she is locked in a garage or injured.
8.) If you have recently moved, thoroughly check your old neighborhood.
9.) When you find your pet, notify everyone so they can stop looking.
10.) Remember shelters charge fees for reclaimed pets.
If You Find Someone's Pet
1.) File found pet reports with your county government animal shelter and local animal shelters.
2.) Create a flyer and share as you would for a lost pet. (If the animal you found is uninjured and easy-going, you can take he/she with you when you distribute flyers.) Knock on neighbors' doors; someone may recognize the pet.
3.) Check with your local vet, who often will scan the animal for an ID chip for free and contact the owner. Vet offices also may be the first have information on lost animals in the neighborhoood.
4.) Decide whether you can care for the animal until the owner is located. Make sure the animal has water.
5.) Place a found pet ad in local newspapers. Check for a lost pet ad that fits the animal you found. (Some papers offer free listings to help.)
6.) Find out which shelters will care for the animal, and what their policies are for taking in lost and stray animals. Not all shelters take in healthy lost pets. Some may not keep them for long periods.
7.) If the animal is sick/injured contact the emergency vet clinic in your area.