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What to do when your pet is lost
According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) over ten million dogs and cats stray from their homes each year. Many of these pets are never seen again by their families. You can beat these odds if you do a little detective work. Following are some tips on how to go about finding your furry friend.
- Submit an online form for sending lost or found notices to the VBSPCA. If you have lost a pet, you should also view our Stray Animal listings as well as visit the shelter frequently.
- Telephone all animal shelters, humane societies, animal control agencies, and other animal-protection groups within a fifty mile radius, and file a lost pet report:
VB Animal Control 385-4444
Norfolk Animal Control 664-7387
Chesapeake Animal Control 382-8080
Portsmouth Humane 397-6004
Animal Assistance League 548-0045
- Hang out an article or two of your family's clothing in the yard. This will help a dog with a good nose to find its way home. Try this with cats, too.
- If your pet is wearing tags and you have moved or changed your telephone number since the tags were made, notify your veterinarian's office where you can be reached.
- Place a lost pet ad in your newspaper. Remember to check the found section.
- Search your neighborhood with the help of friends. The early morning hours are prime time for finding lost pets. Remember to station someone at home to answer the telephone and direct the search. Give particular attention to animal "hangouts" such as playgrounds, parks, and other homes with animals. Questions neighbors, passing joggers and pedestrians, postal carriers, newspaper carriers, garbage collectors, meter readers, and other delivery people who have routes in your neighborhood.
- Post fliers at all local public places -- grocery stores, community centers, churches, street corners, bus stops, schools, and veterinary clinics. Include a picture or description of your cat or dogs and a telephone number.
- VISIT ALL SHELTERS AT LEAST EVERY 3-4 DAYS. Be certain to inquire about animals in seclusion, in the infirmary, or on the list of those recently euthanized.
- Call all veterinary clinics and local breed-rescue groups.
- Check with the neighbors. If the animal disappears without a trace, it is possible that is was "acquired" by someone else. Most "thieves" are neighbors who see a dog or cat wandering around the neighborhood and decide to give it a home. A reward will encourage people to come forth with information about a stolen pet. Having your dog or cat tattooed with a special identification number or symbol may discourage other people from claiming your pet. REMEMBER -- even tattooed animals need to wear identification tags. This could be the quickest way home!
- KEEP HOPE -- If after all this work, you still have not found your pet, don't give up hope, and DON'T STOP SEARCHING!!!!! It is not uncommon for a lost pet to be recovered weeks or even months after disappearing.
Ways to Prevent Loss of a Pet
- Identification. Always put a collar and tag on your cat and dog. Our communities require that cats and dogs are licensed. Even tattooed animals should wear identification tags. A tag is a lost animal's ticket home.
- Training. A pet should be trained to respond to its name and come when called.
- Confining. Keep your pet indoors. House cats are much safer and happier than free-roamers, and dogs walked on a leash will be yours for life. The outdoor world is a maze of dangers for the wandering pet.
- Spaying/neutering. The most effective way to prevent your companion from roaming is to have it "fixed." This will also ensure that, if it does get out, it will not return pregnant or pursue unspayed females in the neighborhood.
- Record keeping. An accurate description is vital in finding a lost pet. Keep a record of the animal's size, weight, and distinguishing characteristics. Also keep an up-to-date photograph of your pet. Most animal shelter and some individuals will ask for proof of ownership.