My family and I just moved into a new house and town. I noticed our new neighborhood is filled with dogs. At the moment actually, it appears we are the only ones with out a dog. Our beloved Sheltie passed away in April 2020.
Anyways, this morning just before my kids were about to start online school, my one son asked why the police where here? I rushed over to the front window and seen 2 squad cars in our court. My daughter said she could hear voices outside her window. I looked out her 2nd floor bedroom window and saw three officers in our neighbor’s yard. One of the officers was holding a catch pole. So, I knew it was an animal but just didn’t know what yet.
I could hear the officers talking a bit. I heard mention of “growling”, “scared”, “hit by a car”. I then assumed it was a dog. About 30 minutes later, animal control showed up. Sure, enough I watched as the man carried a small white dog towards his van through our front yard. The poor pup’s head was stained red, apparently covered in blood.
I quickly jumped on to our neighborhood’s Facebook page to report what I just witnessed. There was already a post about how people had seen a small white dog running through the neighborhood and if anyone was missing a dog. I posted in the comments that animal control had picked up the dog and the dog appeared injured. Someone had asked if it was the same dog someone spotted being chased by coyotes. Short time later, animal control was still parked on our street. I seen a woman come retrieve her poor pup. I really hope the dog’s injuries are not too severe.
If you are a pet owner, chances are high that you have had a pet escape and run the streets before! It can be an extremely scary, worrisome, frustrating, and exhausting experience! Hopefully the situation turned out to be a happy reuniting. I have experienced a couple that were not. Growing up we had a couple dogs that liked to escape and go for runs in the neighborhood. One sad and unfortunate day, one of our dogs didn’t return. We received a call that someone found our sweet dog deceased on the road. She was hit by a car. We had cats that would escape the house, never to be seen again. It’s heartbreaking.
A few weeks ago, my son and I took our overweight cat to the vet. Due to Covid, you have to wait outside in a line to check in. I was holding our heavy cat in her carrier by the handle. We were next in line. All of a sudden when I went to pick up her carrier, it came apart. Our cat ran into some woods nearby. Workers and other customers scattered to help me get her back. I thought for sure she was gone. I was able to get her and just as I was trying to put her back in her crate, a vet tech came up to us. That spooked her, she clawed my chin and took off again. My son and other people ran after her again. I sat there dazed for a moment gushing blood and in pain. A few moments later, I was able to get her again as she was trapped under some rocks and logs. We lost our place in line and I had a pretty painful puncture wound but so happy we didn’t lose our cat. That could have ended very differently.
Left: Photo of our cat Ruby after her escape. Just put her in the car until the vet was ready to see her. Right: Photo of my puncture wound the next day from when she clawed me. Blends in with my moles, so I circled it.
So what are some things you can do to lower the chances of your pet running away?
We will start with prevention and safe guards. First get your pets micro-chipped and keep registration information up-to-date. A lot of people have collars with tags but in some cases, pets get out of the collar rendering that tag useless. So, a collar with a tag, should just be used as a backup method. You can find low-cost clinics that will microchip, if you are worried about cost. Get your dog into training, ideally at a young age. Work with your dog constantly using the commands, stay, sit, down, and come.
If you have a fenced yard, make sure to check it often for any holes, digging, gaps, broken boards and that the gates are always shut. Hang signs on your fence warning others you have a dog, that way no one accidentally lets them out. If you use a tie-out leash, make sure its in good condition and able to handle your dog’s size.
Some dogs are notorious for getting out of their collar, especially long snouted dogs. There are many collars and harnesses on the market to prevent this from happening. I really like using a Martingale nylon collar. If you have a dog or cat that is known to try an escape when opening a door, make sure to secure them before doing so. I know, not always an option or easy. Similar if your pet hates loud noises, say like fireworks or storms. Keep your pet inside and secure during these times. Provide as much comfort as you can. More pets run away on the 4th of July they say, than any other time of the year.
Photo Credit: Martingale collar found on Amazon for reference.
Your Pet Still Escaped After Your Best Efforts, What To Do?
Even with safeguards and preventative measures, your pet still may escape. Some are repeat offenders. As soon as you have noticed your pet is gone, get out there looking for them. Time is of essence. For cats though and sometimes dogs, they will usually return when they are hungry. Cats are territorial and often wont venture far from their home. I had a client whose cat got out and she was in a real panic. After 3 days he had not returned. He had never been outside and she looked everywhere for him in the neighborhood. On day 4, he was found under her next-door neighbor’s deck. He was frightened to death, little dehydrated, and hungry but he recovered.
Its important to try and remain calm when you have spotted your pet. Anger or over excitement can cause your pet to run away or worse, run into traffic. Try luring your pet with treats, food, a favorite toy, or a lot of times just the chance at a car ride will get a dog excited to jump right in the back seat. If none of that works, you will ultimately have feelings of panic and frustration. Here is where you will need patience. Follow your pet, keeping an eye on them. They may eventually grow tired and surrender.
Enlist the help of just a couple people if your pet is friendly, too many people may spook your pet. You may have to call in professional resources like animal control or some areas have organizations to assist in lost pets.
If none of this helped, you simply have no idea where your pet can be, and its been a day or two, its time to start getting the word out about your lost pet. Contact your vet, city’s animal control, and other area shelters to inform them your pet has gone missing. Make sure to keep checking in with them regularly as a pet brought in can be overlooked especially in a highly populated area. Hopefully, your pet is micro-chipped with your current contact info. You can make posters or flyers. Tell your neighbors. Utilize social media. There are groups all over the country that specialize in Lost and Found pets. Post in your city Facebook pages and on your own Facebook/Instagram page. Its helpful to always keep a recent photo of your pet as well.
Above all remain hopeful and positive your dearly loved pet will return to you safely. I read feel good stories all the time about pets that have traveled thousands of miles to find their family, sometimes 15 years later. It’s quite amazing!