How to Find Lost Pets

April 23 is National Lost Dog Awareness Day. Last night, we had both thunderstorms and New Year fireworks, and I know some scared pets ran away. Also, with our Shadow appearing as a lost baby I wanted to remind folks on tips to find lost pets. Now, chances are he didn’t get lost on his own, but for many adult dogs and cats that get scared, they run away from the scary stuff.

Whether it’s summer fun, or winter vacation, we often want to include our pets in the adventure. Nothing stops the fun faster than lost pets, so it’s vital to create a pet-safe plan. Thanks to the ASPCA for the fun infographic that can save you heartbreak. Read on for more tips to prevent pets going AWOL and how to find a lost pet.

WHY LOST PETS RUN AND HIDE

Fireworks offer great fun for us—and not so much for the pets. In fact, you can go to this blog for a tips post about dealing with fireworks fears in pets. But what happens if your scaredy cat or dog has already taken off, and gotten lost? A rash of lost pets almost always follows fireworks fun. A safe enclosure and proper fence (learn more here) can help prevent tragedy.

lost pet

Panic leaves no room for thinking. A terrified dog may run for miles, while a cat may hide nearby under the back porch–but remain frozen, unable to cry for help. Pets that may be friendly around you and the house may become so scared, they refuse to come to strangers–or respond to you, because they’re so darned scared.

How can you find lost pets if your dog or cat does the doorway dash or escapes the backyard fence? Even experienced pets may not have a clue how to find their way home, and puppies and kittens are at even greater risk of being injured by cars or picked up by well-meaning people who find them. According to the ASPCA, nearly one in five lost pets go missing after being scared by fireworks.

lost pet

IDENTIFY YOUR PETS!

Identification is vital for happy reunions. Thankfully, today there are many options for providing identification for your pets. Besides microchips (Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat have microchips), you can also invest in tracking collars to keep tabs on your pets. You can learn about one such service on this blog post. That technology had a big role in my pet-centric thriller series, to track down lost animals.

Microchips contain detailed information about your pet in a tiny rice-size surgical glass capsule. It’s placed beneath the pet’s skin similarly to a vaccination. Most pets don’t even notice. Once the dog or cat details are registered to that specific microchip, pet parents can access the information. That’s invaluable should your pet be lost or stolen, because shelters, veterinarians and rescue organizations can “scan” for the chip to reunite you. Some of the best-known microchip sources include HomeAgainAKC Reunite and Avid.

lost cat

HOW TO FIND LOST PETS

VISIT THE SHELTER. People often take strays to the local shelter. Don’t call and ask about a missing Great Pyrenees puppy. Baby dogs often look different from adults of the breed, and the shelter staff may not always know recognize your verbal description. You should visit several times to see if somebody has turned him in, and don’t take the staff’s word for it–insist on eyeballing the dogs. Your white fluffy baby may have rolled in the mud and now look brown, and you’re in the best position to recognize your furry wonder.

ID YOUR PET. July 1st is ID YOUR PET DAY…but this is important all year long. It’s ideal to have your pet wear some type of identification. Up to seventy percent of animals that arrive at shelters have no identification, and as a result a great percentage are euthanized. A metal or plastic tag with your contact information attached to the dog or cat’s collar offers the simplest method of identification. A rabies tag serial number with clinic contact information also helps. People can call the clinic, where they look up the serial number to identify the pet and his owner. Tattoos and microchips are also common and effective forms of pet identification.

BE SPECIFIC. Avoid describing pets as a Labradoodle or “whatever” cross when the combination can vary. Will other folks know what a “silver shaded tabby cat” looks like? (HINT: that’s my Karma-Kat…) Offer specifics: curly chocolate color fur, one ear up and one down, 45 pound neutered male, floppy (or erect) ears, docked tail — answers to “Spiffy” and dances and spins when you say “wanna cookie?”

lost pet cryingTELL THE WORLD

VISIT THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Alert your neighbors to be on the lookout for a lost pet. Kindly pet lovers may take in a friendly stray and watch for “lost” ads in the newspaper before taking them to the shelter. Go door to door, and ask permission to check out buildings, under porches where frightened dogs or cats might hide or become trapped in an infrequently used garage. Holidays, when neighbors leave town, may mean the pet becomes trapped and not noticed for days or weeks.

ADVERTISE. Make posters or fliers to leave with neighbors or at the shelter that includes several photos documenting a close-up of the face, full-body shots from both sides and the back, and any distinguishing marks. Lots of folks have a Labrador or Golden Retriever or calico cat but yours may be the only one with three pink freckles in a triangular pattern on a white tummy. Check with local newspapers about posting “lost pet” notices–often they do this for free. Use social media. Facebook friends and twitter followers organized to spread the word about a lost furry wonder to help reunite lost pets.

TRACKING SERVICES

TRACK HIM DOWN. Search and rescue dogs trained for years to find missing people lost in disasters, or that have wandered off due to illness or simply becoming confused. Today, specially trained dogs also are available to track down missing pets. One example is Dogs Finding Dogs, but you may find similar organizations in your neck of the woods. One time when Karma-Kat got out (EEEEEK!) and he wouldn’t come to us, we put his best friend on a leash, and Magical-Dawg used his excellent tracking skills to find his cat-buddy.

Cats also can track missing pets. And lost cat behavior differs from lost dog behavior. Refer to this excellent resource to become familiar with lost cat behavior, provided by expert Kat Albrecht (yes, that’s her name!). She also has cats that track missing cats. Felines’ ability to climb, and to access tinier spaces that much bigger tracking dogs make them an ideal choice in some situations. In fact, I used the concept of tracking cats in my latest thriller HIT AND RUN, based on this information.

Because a pet’s scent can fade over time, it’s important to contact a tracking dog organization for help as soon as possible. You’ll be asked to provide the pet’s favorite toy, a blanket or brush that smells like him for the tracking dog to scent and know what he’s looking for.

 

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Make Hide & Seek Fun and Safe with #NuzzleSmartCollar

UPDATE: The collars were originally to be delivered March 2016. A year ago, the company pushed back delivery to September 2016. Several more delays have been shared since then.

On January 23, 2017, I received tracking information that the collar has now been shipped. I look forward to updating everyone once I’ve received the Nuzzle collar and had an opportunity to test it.

Updates on the various production and shipping delays can be found at this link.

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Lots of y’all have read my dog-viewpoint thrillers and know how much I enjoy weaving fact among the thrilling fiction, with care, behavior and pet safety at the top of my list. When something I made up in my fiction becomes reality–as with Nuzzle® Smart GPS collar–I get shivers of delight. Read on…

Pet tracking collar from Nuzzle

Nuzzle helps keep both dogs and cats safe! Image courtesy of Nuzzle.

This post is sponsored by The Nuzzle Smart GPS Collar and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Nuzzle Indiegogo Crowd Funding Campaign, but Bling, Bitches & Blood only shares information relevant to our readers. Nuzzle is not responsible for the content of this article.

Hide_Seek(2)In my second thriller HIDE AND SEEK, a fictional GPS pet tracking collar is instrumental in nailing the bad guy, with help from my canine hero. The technology was based on then-current kid products that were expensive, complicated to set up, cost a monthly fee, and had a limited two-mile effective range. But let’s face it…if your dog or cat takes off or gets picked up by do-gooders (or nefarious characters as in my fiction), two miles distance is nothing.

The thought of lost pets gives me nightmares, how about you? Magical-Dawg has upon occasion “gone south” on us in pursuit of evil coyotes, teasing bunnies, or who-knows-what. Karma-Kat has perfected a door-dashing escape plan, and we lucked out when Magic managed to track and lure home our AWOL delinquent cat. In her youth, Seren-Kitty disappeared a time or two and gave us heart attacks before we realized she was in the house hiding (and snickering at our frantic antics). In other words, my premise for HIDE AND SEEK arose from real life fears.

German Shepherd with collar tag for identification.

Magic loves running…anywhere! and has multiple IDs just in case. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’ve got multiple layers of pet ID on all my pets. Magic has an ear tattoo (now faded), and he and the cats have collars with tags and also are microchipped. I’m still a huge fan of these precautions, but for them to work, the pet first has to be found.

Imagine my delight to learn about Nuzzle, a GPS collar tracking system that’s waaaaay better than what my poor characters experienced with my made-up product. If you care about your pets’ safety, you owe it to them (and yourself) to check this out. You can follow them on Facebook here.

Nuzzle Tracking Collar Closeup

The collar is waterproof, and adjusts to pet neck size. Image courtesy of Nuzzle.

Nuzzle uses a cellular network like your cell phone and has NATIONWIDE coverage (at short range it uses bluetooth), that integrates with the Nuzzle GPS Tracker App. You can define a “geo-fence” so the App sends you alerts if your pet moves out of those regions. All you do is put on the lightweight GPS collar, download the app, and then register your pet’s profile. If you prefer, you can also detach the Nuzzle tracker portion from the nylon collar and re-attach to your pet’s own collar or harness.

OrangeLogoTransparentBackgroundEven if you have a homebody pet like my 19-year-old Seren-Kitty, you can keep track of activity when you’re away from home to see if she’s napping, or rearranging the furniture. Just imagine, you’ll be able to find your cat’s most secret hiding spot! That’s right, Nuzzle works on cats as well as dogs. The app is another nifty way to keep your pet’s health records in a handy, accessible location.

There are no monthly fees, either. All that’s factored into the one-time price of the collar. In my thriller, the hero worries about battery life in the fictional device. The Nuzzle comes with two batteries so one can always be charging, and each battery lasts up to five days.

Sad looking lost dog wants to be found

Nuzzle offers a great way to find pets that stray.

The pets featured in next SHOW AND TELL book deal with being stolen, surviving tornadoes and flash flood, among other things. They sure could have benefited from a waterproof GPS tracking collar like Nuzzle. In fiction, it’s entertaining to read about heroic people and pets that overcome outrageous odds to survive and bring bad guys to justice.

In real life, though, we want to prevent angst. How better than with the peace of mind of a GPS tracking collar? The Nuzzle collar and Nuzzle GPS Tracker App is currently only available via an Indiegogo campaign here where you can get in on early bird packages. I did–and I can’t wait to get mine!

Has your dog (or cat) ever gone missing? What sort of identification do you have on them? Do you have a plan for recovering your wandering pet? Do tell! And please share this post, with others concerned about wandering pets.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions.  Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook,and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Want the insider info on the latest books and appearances? Join my team and get advance sneak peaks related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!