It’s easy to lose your ability to think rationally when you realize your pet is lost.
What do you do? Do you canvass the neighborhood immediately? Put up signs? Contact the local shelters?
For Chattanooga pet owners, the first step might be to open your Facebook account.
Chattanooga Pets Lost & Found is an online gathering point for people who have lost or found pets.
The site page has 898 likes and is constantly updated with pictures and shareable content.
Julia Odom and Michelle McClaren are the creators of the page. They encourage using the page as a way to help locate lost animals in the area.
However, McClaren also offers a tip sheet highlighting other key steps that will help aid in the return of your pet.
Those tips are listed below, with McClaren’s permission.
Start by posting a minimum of 10 signs in the immediate area where your pet was lost. Include your contact information and, if possible, your pet's picture. It is best to use brightly colored paper. If you do not have any, white paper will do. Post a minimum of 50 signs after completing the steps below.
Grab a leash (if possible) and begin to canvas the area where your pet was lost. If you are able to print additional signs, bring them with you so that you can hand them out to neighbors and anyone else you may run into. Take a pen and paper so you can hand out your contact information. Enlist the help of friends, family and neighbors in the search. Be sure to canvass a wide area, as your pet may have traveled blocks or even miles from where he was originally lost.
Knock on your neighbors’ doors and tell them that your pet is missing. Ask if you can look for your pet on their property. If no one is home, leave one of your signs in their mailbox or near their front door.
Post your signs at locations where the finder might think to look, like veterinary offices, pet supply stores, groomers, pet parks, supermarkets, the post office and other local businesses. And tell your mail carrier that your pet is missing.
Go to the animal shelter that services the area in which your pet was lost. It is important that you physically go to the shelter at least every other day. New pets come in daily. Simply calling is not enough. Your pet may not be listed with the front desk when you call, or the person may not recognize your pet from your description. Even if your pet was wearing identification when he was lost or he is microchipped, it is highly recommended that you physically go to the shelter. Your pet’s ID tag may have come off, and microchips can fail to be detected by scanners. Ask to see the pets in the infirmary as well as in the general runs because your pet might have been injured. While you're at the shelters, ask to check the listings of animals who didn't make it, such as those hit by cars. Hard as it is to know a pet was killed, it's harder to never know what happened. Leave a copy of your sign with the shelter staff. If you are unable to physically go to the shelter, calling is the next-best thing.
After you have gone to the shelter that services the area where your pet was lost, go to all of the shelters within a 50-mile radius. Your pet may have traveled beyond the area that your local shelter services and been picked up by a neighboring shelter. Ask your local shelter for a list of these additional shelters.
Continue to visit the shelters at least every other day. It can take several days for a pet to be picked up by animal control or brought in by a good Samaritan. Some shelters hold on to a pet for a period of time and then transfer them to another shelter, or the person who found your pet may wait several days before turning him into a shelter.
Contact local rescue groups and let them know that your pet is missing. The person who found your pet may have been afraid that he would be euthanized if they turned him in to a shelter and took him to a rescue group instead.
Place a lost pet ad in your local newspaper(s) and on Craigslist. Be sure to leave out a piece of information that only the true finder would know, such as the color of your pet’s collar or a distinguishing mark. Sadly, there are scam artists who prey on people who have lost a pet, claiming to have the pet in order to collect a reward.
Updated @ 8:46 a.m. on 9/19/13 to correct the spelling of Michelle McClaren's last name.
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