What to do if your pet goes missing
Why do pets go missing?
This guide offers a range of practical tips to consider, should you lose your pet. It also outlines some preventative steps you can take, to help reduce the risk of your animal getting lost or stolen.
Unfortunately, the stress of a lost pet is something many pet owners have experienced. One in three pets go missing in their lifetime, and there is often a simple explanation.
- If it’s left in an unsecured garden
- When other people are looking after it
- If you let it off its lead in a new area
- Start a search by circling your neighbourhood, calling your cat’s name.
- Look under any bushes / shrubs in your own and nearby gardens.
- Stop to listen at garages and sheds where your cat could be hiding, or locked in.
Small furries, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, could escape if your property is not secure; for example, if there are gaps in your fence, or you’ve left your doors, windows or gates open.
- Your pet’s description, age and weight
- Photos of your pet
- Important people to contact, including your vet and your microchip company
- A list of local animal shelters
- A list of any relatives or friends you and your pet have visited while on walks; it’s not unheard of for animals to show up at a home they have been to previously
Check for gaps under and between the fence for smaller dogs, house cats and small furries. Make sure windows and doors are closed and secured.
Dognapping’ is when criminals steal dogs, most often to sell them on the black market, and unfortunately this is on the rise. Around 1,310 thefts were reported in the 12 month leading up to February 2015; a 20 percent increase on the period between February 2013 and February 2014. Dogs tend to be stolen because of their sale value or their fighting and guarding ability.
- Suspicious markings left on your property.
- A stranger asking you lots of questions about your pet.
- A stranger leaning over your garden fence / yard wall to see your pet.<
Avoid leaving your dog unattended in a yard or garden for long periods of time.
One of the first things you can do, is walk or drive around your local area, possibly with friends or relatives, to look for your pet. Take a torch if it’s dark.
- The missing pet’s name.
- A brief description of the missing pet – breed, or type, size, any distinctive markings.
- A photo of the missing pet.
- Your contact details.
Pet search services like Animal Search UK can create and distribute posters for you. Distribute posters and flyers widely, including to the following.
National search services like <a href=”http://www.animalsearchuk.co.uk” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Animal Search UK</a> , which specialises in reuniting owners with their lost pets, may also be able to help. Members of the public can add details of their lost pets to the website.
The <a href=”http://www.pet-owners.co.uk” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Pet Owners Association</a> comprehensive list of organisations across the UK that may be able to help. Consult their website to get a list, and provide each organisation with:
- A photograph of your pet
- A detailed description of your pet
- Its temperament
- Its microchip code (if applicable)
- Your contact details
You could also consider hiring a ‘pet detective’. These types of businesses specialise in the investigation of animal theft, as well as the recovery of lost or stolen pets.
If you’re planning to go away, or need someone else to look after your pet for a period of time, consider the following to help keep your pet safe and happy.
- Do you have a relative or trusted friend who can take your pet while you’re away?
- Do you know of any reputable kennels or catteries – or can someone you know recommend one?
- Could you have your pet stay in its home environment, by asking a friend or pet professional to ‘pet sit’?
- Whether your dog can be let off its lead in any outdoor environment.
- Whether your cat / other pet can be let outdoors.
- If there are any specific words or sounds your pet responds to.
- Make sure they have your and your vet’s contact details, in case of an emergency.
- They should be insured.
- Ideally, they should be registered with a national body, such as the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers.
- They should be DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked , or have a basic disclosure, if pet sitting at your home.
- Look for named, good testimonials.
- Try to make sure you meet them first.
The following organisations can provide more help and information:
All information was correct at date of publication. This guide was originally published on 9th February 2016.