Prepare for the unexpected by protecting pets before they go missing

12/21/2013 12:00 AM

12/12/2013 2:50 PM

Pardon me for preaching about dog licenses – again. A license is your best defense against losing a dog, and I stand by that advice. But there are other things you can do in advance of losing a pet that unexpectedly bolts through the door.

During the holidays, many of you will be traveling and planning to take your pets along. It’s not uncommon for a dog or cat to get away from you in unfamiliar surroundings.

Can’t happen, you say? Tell that to the people who call me each week trying to get help finding a lost pet. Unfortunately, it is a request I can’t accommodate. Believe me, animals get lost every day. It isn’t news.

These are my suggestions – things I do for my own animals – that I have learned after working with people who have lost their animals and those who work in rescue that end up with them.

After you license your dog, your second defense should be to train your dog to return when you give the command “come.” It’s not as hard as it sounds, but as a dog parent, you need to learn how to do it.

Give yourself and your pet the gift of attending a good training class where you will both learn how to rear a great pet. It is well worth the effort. Remember, consistency in training is the key until the animal is programmed to respond to the command.

There are several other things you can do in advance of traveling or even if you lose a pet near your home.

Microchip your pet and make sure you file the registration information with the company. Update the information as needed, when you move or if you get a new phone number.

Keep current photos of your pets from various angles. If an animal ends up at a shelter or rescue, the photos will be invaluable.

Visit animal rescue sites near your home and ask employees to keep the lost pet flier with the animal’s photo and other identification information. They will call you if they suspect your dog has been turned in. Rescues don’t want the hassle of giving your pet expensive medical attention in order to get it a new home if it already has one.

If the animal is wearing a current license tag or microchip with up-to-date information, shelter personnel will contact you.

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