Myths & Facts.
There are many myths surrounding lost pets, so we wanted to bring to light some of the misinformation that is given to people when they are searching for a lost pet.
My pet will come home on its own – Some pets do come home on their own but there are many factors which can influence the chances of your pet doing this. The season, your suburb, cars, other animals and people can all get in the way. If your pet is displaced (eg out of their territory or sick or injured they might not be able to come home. A study done by a veterinarian found that only 8% of lost pets return home on their own!
My pet would never cross a busy road. – Many owners tell us their cat or dog is street wise and would never cross busy streets and this may be the case normally, but if your pet is missing, it is not a normal situation, so your pet may not be behaving normally. If your pet was chased by another animal or a person or heard a frightening noise they may have reacted by running across a busy road. Frightened and displaced pets often act erratically, crossing streets multiple times. In our experience of searching for lost pets, we find that they frequently do cross busy roads.
My pet is microchipped – the council, pound or vet will ring me when my pet comes in. We beg you, please do not make this assumption. Microchips are a great tool in reuniting many lost pets, but there are many problems. (see the page microchips explained for more detail). We have located many pets in pounds and shelters who have been microchipped and due to a human or equipment error the owner was not contacted. A recent study by Linda Lord, D.V.M., Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State and service head for Community Practice, Outreach and Shelter Medicine found that pets who are microchipped have a better chance of being returned to their owner after entering an animal shelter than those who are not. Overall, owners were only found for 72.7 percent of microchipped animals. Although the study supports micochipping as a valuable permanent way to identify, issues related to registration may undermine its overall potential. In the cases in which owners were not found, 35.4 percent was attributed to incorrect or disconnected phone numbers, 24.3 percent was owners’ failure to return phone calls or respond to letters, 9.8 percent was attributed to unregistered microchips and 17.2 percent because microchips were registered in a database that differed from the manufacturer. The study was published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Someone stole my pet. Yes we find that more pets are being stolen, in particular dog breeds of Staffordshire bull terriers, cavalier king charles spaniels and Labradors, and in general puppies cat breeds of Persians, Burmese and ragdolls and with birds, Macaws and talking parrots. But be careful with making assumptions of your pet being stolen as this can hinder the search for your lost pet if they have gone missing on their own accord. You run the risk of alienating people who would normally have helped in the search as they don’t want to get involved in a police matter. If you do suspect your pet of being stolen, talk to us we can assess in detail the different possibilities and guide you as to what needs to be done if your pet has in fact been stolen.
I have done everything possible to find my pet. Most pet owners go through the common techniques of ringing vets and pounds and putting up posters around the area, but if you have done this and your pet is still missing there are other things that need to be done.
I haven’t had a phone call from the vet or pound so my pet musn’t be there. Every day there are approximately 500 pets in the pounds just in Sydney, so if only half of these owners are actively ringing their vets and pounds, this would still be 250 phone calls received by a pound or vet each day, if your pet is missing, your pet could be among these 500 pets in pounds, and your phone call could be the 1st, the 20th or even 100th phone call received by the pound today, so it is almost impossible for your pet to be recognized or remembered by the pound staff. Add into this the fact that most owners do not notify the pound when their pet has been reunited, so the list of missing pets recorded at the pound grows by the day, it does not shrink.
The local shelter or pound has a website – I can just use the website to look for my lost pet. Regularly checking for lost pets in person while talking with pound staff is the most effective way of searching for your lost pet in a pound. Most pound and shelter staff are overworked and underpaid doing work that can be very emotionally draining. Human errors, data entry errors and computer problems happen. Can you tell the difference between a desexed male cat and a female cat, can you hold an upset cat in your arms and scan it for a microchip? Do you know the names and descriptions of all breeds of dogs and cats? Don’t assume that the pound or shelter staff do.
Also what pounds do the surrounding councils use? Your pet does not know to stay in council boundaries, so if your pet crosses over your council boundary, chances are he/she will go to a completely different pound. A comprehensive search of the pounds each day generally involves checking at least 5 pounds.
I have emailed the vets and pounds – While email is a great tool, it is much like a microchip. Don’t rely on email to get your lost pet home. Do you email your doctor or your dentist? How often do you see a vet reading their email? It is not a reliable way to get your message to the veterinary hospitals. The best way to reach them is to distribute a poster to them. This ensures it reaches all the vet staff and potentially if placed on their noticeboard or on the wall of their waiting room, it will reach the visitors too.
My pet will never get lost. The world-wide annual statistics on missing pets are shocking. Over 10 million pets go missing every year and millions never make it back home. That translates into 1 out of every 3 pets are lost! Pets are lost all of the time, and to think that your pet isn’t going to be one of them is unrealistic.
If my dog or cat is found deceased I will get a call from the council – Not true! We have had many clients find out that their pet was killed by a car and taken to the tip by the council and they were not notified. There is no requirement for councils to do this.
My pet is old/sick my friend says they have gone away to die – We often have owners or family or friends suggesting that the pet went away to die. The sad truth is that many of these pets never get found because the owner gives up before they have even started searching for their lost pet. If your pet was sick or injured when they went missing the most likely things to have occurred are:
- Your pet got disorientated and went somewhere they normally don’t go.
- Someone else has seen your pet and assumed it was dumped, neglected or unowned. (This commonly happens to older pets, thin and frail pets or pets with skin conditions or pets who limp).
- They have gone away to be alone (when you are sick what do you do? Most people hide away at home), your pet does the same.
How long should I look for my lost pet?
The question is very personal. Some people search for ever and other people only a few days or weeks. We encourage people to actively search for at least 6-8 weeks for a lost dog or cat and for birds and other pets for at least 9-12 weeks. Many pets are reunited after this length of time, and in some circumstances we would advise an owner if there are other things that can to be done after this time.
If you actively and physically search for your lost pet and implement good searching and poster techniques you will maximise the chance of being reunited with your lost pet. Don’t wait a day or 2 to see what happens, or to wait for a phone call from the council, the longer your pet is missing, the more things can happen to them and the more likely someone else may decide to keep your pet. Don’t leave the reuniting of your lost pet to chance, use the services available to guide you through the process of searching for your lost pet.