Here is #1 in a series on Lost Pets from our affiliate Pet Search and Rescue
Frequently Asked Questions About Lost Pets by Pet Search and Rescue
www.PetSearchAndRescue.com – 800-925-2410
Question: It is cold, there are coyotes and my dog has no food. How long can my dog survive?
Answer: Dogs are incredibly sturdy. They are survivors, and have strong instincts – even “couch potato” dogs! We know of dogs that have survived in heavy traffic areas and scavenged for food for years without major injury. It is pretty common for dogs to survive for weeks. Water is the most important factor, and once they find a water source (which is pretty easy in most areas with water sprinklers, creeks, etc.) they can usually find food and safe hiding places.
Question: Are dogs really stolen?
Answer: Yes, pet theft does happen. In the past it was not as common, but as small breed dogs become more popular it is happening more often.
Case Example: A dog was stolen from a hospice center in Santa Barbara! Sarah, the house dog, was stolen from the property. Several house residents witnessed the abduction. After getting media attention, the dog was recovered.
Question: Does my dog remember his name? Will my pet come when I call?
Answer: When a dog goes missing it can be a fearful experience for the pet. Do not count on your pet coming when called. Even the best trained pet will not always come when called. The interesting thing is that once they are back home they often act as if nothing ever happened!
Case Example: One pet owner reported online, “George remembered his name, without a doubt. But, the morning I had my first sighting of him I do believe that hearing his name (and the panic in my voice) scared him away. My advice is to call calmly, especially if your pet is sighted close to home. However, it’s likely that your pet will not answer or come to you, but it may be good for them to hear your voice.”
Case Example: Another pet owner reported, “The first night he ran away from me and it broke my heart. But, trust me, it’s an instinct and it’s why they survive. So, don’t think that he doesn’t love you or want to come home because he didn’t answer. I know it is hard, I always thought that MY pet was different, that they would surely come if they heard me. And never in a million years would I have thought I’d need a trap. But I did. So don’t despair… your pet loves you. But you might have to HELP him come home.”
Question: My pet has a microchip. How come my pet has not been found? Isn’t the microchip like GPS?
Answer: A microchip is not GPS. In other words, just because your pet has a microchip it does not mean that your pet can be located with satellites. A microchip is for identification purposes, but someone must use a compatible “wand” (usually available at veterinary clinics and shelters) to scan the pet and read the chip information. Then, they have to take that information and contact the microchip company and get your information. That is why it is so important to update your information with the microchip company!
Question: My pet has ID tags on – why am I not receiving a call that someone found my pet?
Answer: The sad truth is that a person may want to keep your dog for themselves or possibly they are waiting for a reward to be posted. This is particularly true for cute small breed dogs. Another possibility is that some dogs are hard to catch. I know from personal experience, after trying to catch a roaming Chihuahua for 2 hours! Don’t count on a dog that is usually friendly coming up to people – they can act very differently away from home. This is where witness development can play a critical role in finding your pet. A collar can be removed or pulled off. Sometimes the pet will lose weight and a collar could come off this way. Another possibility is that the phone number or information on the tag was not legible. This happens many times. Even if only one or two numbers are hard to read, it could be impossible to contact you.
Question: Will I find my pet?
Answer: That is the most heart wrenching question we get asked. The prognosis for finding a lost pet is highly variable, and depends on many factors, including: Early response, effective planning and implementation of the plan, pet’s temperament, pet’s health, pet’s breed, appearance of the pet, if the pet was wearing identification, if the pet is microchipped, weather, terrain, population density, circumstances surrounding the pet’s escape or disappearance, how quickly the search is abandoned, how bonded the pet owner is with the pet, false assumptions or misinformation, owner behavior, and rescuer behavior. To increase your chances of finding a lost pet, use all resources available to you and get professional help, including consulting with a Pet Detective.
Question: How long should I look for my pet?
Answer: The answer to this question is very personal. Some people search forever, some have to call off the search after only a few days. At Pet Search and Rescue we encourage you to continue aggressively searching for your lost dog for at least 6 weeks. There are many news reports of dogs being found months and even years after they went missing. Here are a few to give you inspiration! Don’t give up!
– Missing North Carolina Dog Found 18 Months Later In Ohio: A mixed breed dog named Chrissy was found because her owners were determined not to give up on finding their beloved pet. Apparently Chrissy went missing in 2007 and the owners followed tips, finding her over a year later with a woman who had no idea that the dog belonged to someone else.
– We worked a lost dog case in Los Angeles, CA. The owner was convinced that the dog was attacked by coyotes, despite the fact that the Search Dogs found that the dog went out toward a busy street. Nine months later the dog was found healthy in a shelter over 90 miles away, because of the dog’s microchip.
– A lab names Lula was missing for 2 months before being located by her loving owners. A homeless man ended up with Lula. The man had been hit and killed by a car, and Lula ended up changing hands multiple times. Persistence was key in getting Lula back home!
– Walker, a Sheltie, was found about 6 months after going missing. Humane trapping and witness development was key!
So never stop looking, and if you adopted your dog from GSROC, CALL US!! We will also come out and help you.