Step by step: What to do if your dog escapes

Categories: PHS Blog
Miles
Miles, No. A488250 , is available for adoption from the Pasadena Humane Society.

Last week I shared a story of a time someone close to me lost his dog during a house party. It was a scary experience — one I have no interest in living through again.

Now that I work at Pasadena Humane, I have gotten a pretty thorough education on how to take immediate action when a pet gets loose from the safety of home.

For one thing, the statistics are compelling. According to Peeva (a pet technology company focused on improving information sharing for lost pets), one-third of pets become lost at some point in their lifetime, and close to 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year.

But get this, only 23% of lost pets in the U.S. are reunited with their owners. You’ve probably noticed me harping on the importance of ensuring your pet is wearing proper identification and has a microchip, and this is why.

As a community, we can bring that percentage way up if we commit to making sure our homes are safely secure, fences are in good shape, and our pets are easily identifiable. You know I love me a good tip list, so here are some easy steps to follow in case, heaven forbid, your pet wanders away and gets lost.

Step 1

Think like your dog, and put yourself in his paws. No one understands your dog’s temperament more than you do.

Does he love other dogs and people? He may make friends with a nearby neighbor. Is he shy? He may be hiding under a car or in a bush.

By knowing your dog, you’ll have a better idea on how to react and where to look.

Step 2

If you live in one of our 11 animal control contract localities*, view the “found pets” section on our website. The listing includes pets currently housed at Pasadena Humane, as well as found pets living in private homes.

If you see your pet, just follow the instructions on the listing to be reunited. If you don’t see your pet, make sure you continue to check regularly. The time period that someone actually finds your pet and brings it to the shelter can vary from hours to days. The “found pets” feed is updated every hour.

It’s also a good idea to search other local shelter systems, including Los Angeles Animal Services (serving the city of Los Angeles), L.A. County Animal Care & Control (serving most areas in Los Angeles County) and San Gabriel Humane Society (serving San Gabriel & Temple City).

Pasadena Humane observes a hold period for animals found stray or abandoned. Counting the first day, dogs with no identification will be held for four days, becoming eligible for adoption on their fifth day.

Pets with identification (microchip, tag or other identification) will be eligible for adoption or placement after a 10-day stray hold.

Make up fliers with your pet’s photo, age, gender, breed and color, and your contact information. Distribute them to neighbors, area businesses, veterinary offices, police departments and animal shelters. You can also post them at traffic intersections and pet supply stores.

According to a survey done by the ASPCA, 49% of pet owners found their dog by searching the neighborhood, and 15% of the dogs were recovered because they were wearing an ID tag or had a microchip. (Yes, this is me harping.)

Step 3

Search for your missing pet on nextdoor.com, your neighborhood’s missing pet groups on Facebook and on Craigslist. If you don’t see your pet, post photos and information about your pet on these channels.

Again, some pets may not be found for a while depending on how social they are with people, so keep checking regularly.

Step 4

Post lost pet fliers in your neighborhood.

Offer a reward, if you want, but protect against scams by omitting an identifying trait in your pet’s description. If someone claiming to have found your pet doesn’t mention the omitted trait, he may not have your pet.

Be wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money for the return of your pet.

Step 5

Post your lost pet on apps and websites such as Finding Rover, Paw Boost and Shadow (dogs only). When it comes to finding your pet using online resources, I find that it’s best to cast the net wide because people typically have their preferred social media platforms.

The secret to finding a lost pet seems to boil down to one thing: Act fast! The longer you wait to look for a lost pet, the chances of being reunited dramatically reduces. Even the most responsible and vigilant pet owner can have a pet wander off accidentally, so if it happens to you, forgive yourself quickly and take action so that you and your pet can find your way back to each other.

Next week, I’ll talk a little bit more about cats getting lost. They are a totally different species with very different tendencies than dogs most of the time. So I’ll give you the scoop on reuniting with a lost cat, and what to do if you find what you think might be a stray cat, or even a litter of kittens. Have a great week everyone!

*Pasadena Humane accepts stray animals from the following localities: Altadena, Arcadia, Bradbury, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta-Montrose, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.