It’s a feeling that haunts so many animal lovers. There is a sickening moment, whether you’re in your home or out somewhere, and a huge fear is realized. Your beloved pet is lost. Your heart races, while panic sets in as you worry about their safety – and their fate.
Unfortunately, this scenario is common in Ontario and across Canada. Thousands of pets are lost every year.
“It only takes an instant for a pet to go missing,” says Ashley Molnar of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “A door or gate left open, a frightening incident like fireworks or a thunderstorm, or one of many other unforeseen events.”
Last year, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society reunited over 280 lost animals with their families. That important community support service is one of many the organization provides. These stories of a family getting their furry loved one back are heartwarming. But it’s much more uplifting to imagine a world where we don’t need to worry, and pets are lost less frequently. That is easily attainable when owners take the necessary steps, and there’s no better time to go through the checklist than in July, aka Lost Pet Prevention Month.
Most caring pet owners know how to prevent the loss of their loveable companion. But it doesn’t hurt to offer a few tips from the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society as a reminder:
- Keep dogs on a leash while out for a walk
- Secure your property. This includes repairing small holes or loose boards in a fence, or maybe adding height to a low fence. Chicken wire at the bottom of a fence sloping downwards and inwards, or sunk brinks, are useful digging deterrents.
- Supervise your pets. You can make the backyard more interesting by spending time together playing cooperative games or simply giving your dog a stuffed Kong toy to chew on.
- Ensure your pets are secured during transport, using leashes, harnesses, and crates
- Positive training increases your dog’s chances of responding well when you say, “Come”
- Spay or neuter your pet. There are numerous health benefits, but it also makes your pet less likely to roam.
- Be proactive and prepare a lost pet kit in advance. It can include up-to-date photos and posters so you can act quickly if necessary.
- Train your pet to associate a whistle with meals by blowing it just before you feed them. If the animal is lost, it increases the chances they will respond to a whistle when you are searching.
For more tips, visit https://ontariospca.ca/blog/lost-pet-recovery-101/
The Importance of Microchipping
One of the best steps any pet owner can take to prevent an animal from being lost for good is microchipping.
“Each year, thousands of lost pets and abandoned animals are taken in by shelters and humane societies across North America,” says Molnar. “Some of these animals never make it home because they can’t be identified.
“Microchipping is a reliable, permanent, one-time service that helps give you peace of mind for your pet’s lifetime.”
Microchips can only be effective if the chip is registered in a database like PetLink, with updated contact information. Accurate information coupled with the unique microchip number means lost animals can be traced back to an owner as soon as it’s scanned.
For more information on microchipping, go to https://ontariospca.ca/what-we-do/animal- care/microchips/
Use the Web
Social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are important and useful resources when a pet is ultimately lost. The more you can get the word out, the more likely you are reunited.
“Social media channels can be very effective tools to share information about lost and found animals,” says Molnar. “It’s also worth creating your own post about the lost animal and asking family and friends to share it. You never know who might see it.
“Ask your local animal centre or humane society if they can post on their social media pages to help increase exposure.”
A Final (Old-school) Thought
There is so much accessible technology available to both prevent the loss of a pet and help you find one. But don’t forget the value of a good old-fashioned name and address tag, with a phone number included. A pet found with this info is sure to get home quickly.
You can then take that much-needed deep breath and feel relieved your beloved companion is safe.
Read all about the Ontario SPCA’s community support services for lost and found
animals at https://ontariospca.ca/what-we-do/community-support-services/lost-found-2/