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One of every pet parent’s greatest fears will always be losing their pet.
From realizing that Bantay is not responding to your numerous calls (or to the sound of their favorite chew toy), or seeing that Mingming’s not sleeping on her favorite rug (or anywhere around the house), you can’t help but think of the worst. Where are they? Are they even okay? Have they drank enough clean water?
While some lost pet stories conclude on a lucky note where pet parents get reunited with their alaga, we know that that’s not always the case, as some animals end up going astray or being taken to shelters or pounds.
So if you’re a pet parent who finds yourself in this situation, don’t panic just yet, because it’s important for you to think clearly and act quickly. And even if you believe that you’re the best pet parent in the world, it’s still always smart to make sure that you can prevent traumatic experiences like these for you and your pet.
Here are some practices that we hope could help you as a pet parent to ensure that your beloved animals won’t get lost, or if they do, that they come back home safe:
- Get IDs for your pets
One of the most important things a pet parent can do is to ensure that their pets can be properly identified. Have your dog or cat wear a collar that contains vital information such as your name, contact number, and home address, just so anyone who finds your pet can easily reach you when needed.
Make sure that their identification tags are made of comfortable and durable material, and that they’re not too loose and too tight around their neck so that your pets won’t have a problem wearing it even at home.
- Consider microchipping
Pet parents can also consider having their pets microchipped. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a microchip is a “small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder” that “transmits the [pet’s] identification number to the scanner, which displays the numbers on a screen.”
If your pet is not comfortable wearing collars, then you can opt for a microchip instead to make sure that your pet will still be identified.
In September, the local government of Pasig City launched the free pet microchipping program to promote responsible pet ownership and reduce the number of stray animals. The microchips include the registered information of the pet’s owner, as well as the pet’s vaccination history.
According to PetDentity, a pet service in Makati that offers microchipping, the information found in a pet’s microchip can help track its owner, especially if they’re found by a vet clinic, city vet, municipality vet office, and animal shelter. Compared to collars with tags, they said that microchips “provide a permanent ID that cannot fall off, be removed, or become impossible to read.”
- Use proper collars and leashes for your pets
There’s a variety of styles and fits for collars and leashes, so it’s important to find the one that works for the both of you. Big pets might need a more sturdy leash (or you can also double it, if needed), while smaller pets need shorter leashes. Find an even balance between secure and comfortable.
Over time, collars can also fall off and leashes can become torn and worn down, so it’s a must that you check your pet’s items regularly, and especially if you’re taking them for a walk. Make sure that your pets are wearing them snugly and properly!
- Pay attention
Something as simple and basic as paying attention to your pets could be the easiest and most trusted way to prevent them from getting lost.
Pay attention to their surroundings – yes, even in your own backyard. One of the most common ways a pet gets lost is when they escape your property. Periodically inspect your gate and fences for holes or gaps that your pet can squeeze into and install blocks across on wide openings.
If a friend is coming over to your house for a visit, remind them that you have a pet and that they should keep the doors closed. Better if you check it yourself, too! Create a safe, quiet, and secure space for your pet at home when you have huge gatherings, or occasions that you know might cause distress to your pet.
Be extra vigilant also when you’re bringing your dog to unfamiliar locations. Don’t just tie them to bike racks or fences when you’re going for a quick store run as they could easily slip out of their collar or get stolen. Always secure your pets in safe carriers when traveling.
- Train your pets
Dog owners would know how exhausting it is to try catching an excited puppy that’s taken off for a run. But if your dogs know the commands “come” and “stay” and recognize you as their owner, then they might likely follow you.
Work with your dog (and a trainer, if needed) to ensure an immediate response from your pet as these commands can help prevent them from bolting out the front door or running to the road. Beyond basic obedience, training like these can also help your pet to be more active, engaged, and stimulated while at home.
During training or walking sessions, make a point also to introduce your pets to your neighbors so that they can recognize your pet and return it if they see your pet roaming around without you.
No matter how many precautions you take, sometimes, your pet can still get away. Here’s what you should do:
- Search the neighborhood. Start looking right away, make a thorough physical search of your perimeter or the area where your pet was last seen. Ask people if they’ve seen your pet – having a photo of your pet is more helpful than just describing their features. Tell them to contact you if your pet is seen. Hang posters and post notices on areas you frequent on with your pet. Take it to social media to help spread the word out.
- Contact shelters and veterinary offices. Someone may have turned your pet to an animal shelter or veterinarian so reach out to as many as possible and leave your contact information with them.
- Beware of scams. If anyone claims to have found your dog, ask them to describe your pet and send you a photo. Be extra wary when the supposed rescuer asks for a huge amount of money or other rewards in exchange for returning your pet to you.
Do you have other tips to prevent your pet from getting lost? Let us know in the comments section! – Rappler.com