We see them everywhere, everyday and have even found a few ourselves!
You must have noticed.
From social media, pole posters and lawn signs; lost/missing and found pet posters are popping up more and more! Are we losing pets more frequently or are social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter making us more aware? If that’s the case then, bonus! The more we share the easier it is for these pets to make their way back into their homes safely.
In a flash they can be gone! What would you do if your pet was ever lost?
Our personal experience stops at chasing our tripod husky through the neighboring hay fields after a few backyard escapes. Luckily he tired easily and wasn’t ever up for a game of chase for too long. We’ve also picked up a few runners off of the side of the road and taken them to local veterinary offices until they were reunited with their families.
Sadly, the outcomes aren’t always happy.
We set out to find a topic expert to answer our questions and give us some tips to better prepare us and you should we ever end up in this situation.
Emma Murdock of Ottawa, Ontario is both the Founder & CEO of Walk With Me Ottawa and Lost and Hound Canada. Emma takes pride in learning all there is to know about our canine companions. She says that every dog has something knew to teach her and now she wants to share that knowledge with us.
We asked our expert key questions that would send us in the right direction if our pets ever went missing!
MPTR: Emma, can you tell us how pets are escaping? Are there any trends you are seeing?
EM: A lot of pets go missing by escaping through front doors, backyard gates or car doors while travelling. We do see an increase in missing pets around holidays as a result of fireworks. Thunderstorms also cause a significant number of missing pets due to the barometric pressure and thunder scaring them. Spring is also a typical time to have pets run away or get lost due to all the fresh scents and spring air!
MPTR: If my pet goes missing what are some of things I need to do?
EM: The first and most important thing you need to focus on is spreading the word as fast and far as possible. Social media is great for this. Call your local humane society/shelters, local vets/groomers/kennels, etc. because if anyone finds your pet, they will likely bring them to one of these places. You should also make posters and disperse them to all mailboxes and local businesses within a 20km (12mi) radius of home/where the pet was last seen. I also like to have small sized cards to distribute with the owner’s name/phone number so when you are out on foot searching, you can hand them out to people easily. You also need to call bylaw to inform them of the missing pet and file a lost report with your local humane society. There are more tips in our book which will be released this summer.
MPTR: Should I go out looking for my pet or stay at home and wait it out? Is there anywhere in particular I should check?
EM: This depends on where and how the pet went missing. I think it is important to have someone at home, or leave the backyard gate open in case the pet does find its way back. You definitely should go out looking via car/on foot and recruit some volunteers to help you but HOW they go about searching and how they interact with the missing dog is crucial – which we talk about a lot in our book.
Pets will typically take the path of least resistance- trails, sidewalks, railroads etc. But if they’re frightened, they will hide. We don’t recommend calling out for your pet after the first half hour of being missing as they enter feral mode very quickly and we don’t want to further spook them. Sources of food and water are great places to search after a few days, but in initial stages the pets are usually travelling, or hiding.
MPTR: I’m all about being proactive so tell me, what can I do to be prepared in this situation? Is an ID tag enough?
EM: ID tags are great and I highly recommend having one or having a collar with your phone number engraved onto it. Microchips are also a crucial component to get your lost pet home as quickly as possible. There are many GPS/bluetooth tags that your pet can wear these days but to be honest, I have yet to find one that works very well in Canada.
MPTR: Not only are pets lost every day, they are also found. What should I do if I find a pet?
EM: Ooh this is a great question that is so often overlooked. The first thing to do if you can safely catch the pet is to keep it secure (slip leash, fenced yard, in crate, or in your house) and check for name tag/rabies tag etc. From there, you may be able to find the owner directly. If it has no tags or no collar, take it to the nearest vet and have it scanned for a microchip free of charge. If you are unable to keep the pet with you, you can call bylaw (311 in Ottawa) and animal services will come to you, scan the pet for a chip and reunite with owner if possible, or bring to the local humane society. Posting online is another good way to reconnect with the owner but be sure to keep some of the pets info private so you don’t get any weird pet thieves trying to nab them!
MPTR: I imagine that losing a pet can be exhausting both physically and mentally for a family. Is there anywhere that a pet owner can go for support?
EM: Having a solid network of friends and family who will help you is so important. We hope that Lost & Hound can continue to be a great support system for people struggling with missing pets and we look forward to our workshops bringing people together in the future. It’s amazing how many missing dogs can be reunited with their families by other people looking for their own dogs.
It is so important to ensure you care for yourself while you are dealing with this or else you wont be able to perform at your best. Make sure you get some sleep, eat well and drink lots of water while going through this ordeal. The after effects of adrenaline can also hinder you so make sure to be aware of that and take care of yourself. Deep breathing really helps.
PTR: Emma, as our topic expert do you have any words of advice or encouragement for any pet owners that are looking for their missing pet right now?
EM: Don’t give up!! I have heard the craziest stories of pets being reunited after YEARS across the country, so don’t ever give up and remember that they are way more resilient than we give them credit for.
PTR: You’ve mentioned a new book. What can you tell us about it?
EM: Lost & Hound is releasing an affordable digital e book that will have all the tips and tricks to help you get your dog home safe and sound. It will include what NOT to do as well and a lot of resources (checklist, poster template). It will be accessible from your phone so you’ll always have it with you when you need it. We will also be providing phone consults to people with missing dogs and educating canine professionals through workshops on how to handle a missing dog – how to prevent it from happening in the first place, how to get the dog back and how to handle the PR. Be sure to check out and like our facebook page for updates. Stay tuned for the book release this summer!
It’s important to know that services like the ones offered by Emma and her team exist and that these experts are available to assist us should we ever end up with a found, lost or missing pet!
You can read some feel good stories about pets being reunited with their owners here:
Share your stories of lost/missing or found pets below! We love to hear from our readers.