Realizing your pet is lost is a very scary thing, but the more prepared you are for this scenario, the better chance you have of being reunited with your furry loved one. Your dog or cat cannot tell the people who find him where he lives or who his parents are. One of the most important things you can do is equip your pet with proper identification. A tag on your dog’s collar with your name, address, and telephone number can help anyone who finds your pet know exactly where he lives and who to contact. Make sure this information is always current and up to date – there is nothing more frustrating for the people trying to help your dog or cat get home than reaching a disconnected number. They know your baby has a family out there, but have no idea how to find you. If your dog or cat does not wear a collar full time, or frequently slips out of their collar, a micro-chip is an excellent alternative! Micro-chips can be implanted and registered to you for a very low cost at almost any veterinarian’s office. Also, take advantage of county licenses. If animal control is called and they check the information on your dog’s license, they will know exactly where he or she lives and attempt to bring the dog home rather than to the shelter. In Osceola County, any pet wearing a current Osceola County pet license gets a free ride home if they are picked up by animal services!

If you realize your pet is missing, where do you start? Make sure to file a lost pet report at your county’s animal services. Many people who find pets turn them in to the local shelter, or check there to see if anyone has reported the pet missing. If you live bordering more than one county, it is safest to file reports in both counties since you cannot be certain which county your pet may have been found and turned in. It is also important to visit your local shelter in person to look for your pet. Many shelters receive dozens of pets every day, and it is hard for them to know which of the five tan lab mixes they received this week could be yours. You are your pet’s best chance at being identified and getting home. Putting up flyers in your neighborhood and online through websites like Craigslist and Facebook can also help spread the word that you are looking for your lost pet, make sure to include several good photos from different angles as well as information like the area your pet was last seen – all of this information can help people better narrow down whether the dog they found could be your pet.

If you have found a pet, what should you do? Contact animal services to report that pet found. Even if you are willing to hold onto the pet until the owners are located and do not need animal services to pick the animal up, it is still important to file a found pet report as animal services is generally the first place owners may check when looking for their lost pet. If you found a lost dog, try going for a walk to see if anyone is out looking for them or if they seem to lead you to a specific house. Posting flyers in the neighborhood and online can also help locate owners who might be missing their pet. Don’t forget to have all found animals scanned for a micro-chip if they are not wearing identification! Any veterinarian or animal services will scan for a chip free of charge and help you locate the owners of a found pet. If you are unable to hold onto the animal you have found, please turn it in to animal services! Pets left to wander the streets can end up hit by a car, attacked by other animals, or lost for a much longer period of time while owners look for their loved pet.

No one wants to be in the dreaded situation of realizing their pet is lost, but the more steps we take to be prepared as pet owners – the better chances our pets have of making it back home safely.

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