There’s nothing that fills a pet parent with more panic and fear than when their fur baby goes missing. Whether your dog slipped her collar while attempting to chase a squirrel or your cat pulled a Houdini because he wanted a change of scenery, it is essential to take the necessary precautions and to know what to do if your pet goes missing.

How many pets go missing a year?

Each year, approximately 10 million pets are lost in the United States, and millions of those end up in the nation’s animal shelters. In fact, July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month. According to the American Humane Society, each year, 30% more pets are lost between July 4 and July 6 than any other time of year. There are many different circumstances that can influence why summer is the most likely time a pet will go missing. The warmer weather has people and pets coming and going more often and yes, the loud sounds of fireworks around the 4th adds to the confusion. Animals often don’t understand where the noise of fireworks is coming from, which in turn causes them to panic and escape.

How can we ease our pet’s anxiety over fireworks?

You can help divert your pet’s attention during this loud and stressful time by playing calm music or even turning on a TV that will mask the noise outside. Keeping them in an interior room will reduce what they hear and ensure they cannot escape the house through an exterior door. We suggest keeping toys, a favorite bed or something that is comforting to your pet in the safe space to aid in distracting them from the big booms and bright lights of fireworks.

Two things that make finding a missing pet much easier:

1. Microchipping: A microchip is a small transponder, which is about the size of a grain or rice that can be implanted in your pet’s skin by veterinarians and animal shelters. Having your pet microchipped can help get them back to you safely and much more quickly. Getting a chip is easy, for you and your pet! For your pet, it is much like getting a shot and pet owners just need to register online to activate the chip. Some companies charge a one-time registration fee, while others like “Home Again” charge and annual fee. The fee includes a tag for your pet’s collar with the chip number and registry phone number.  With a chip, it’s important to remember that if you move or change phone numbers, you must update your personal information for your pet’s chip, otherwise it will be useless.

2. I.D. Tags: Make sure that your pet is always wearing his/her collar with I.D. tags. The tags should include your pet’s name (or your surname), an up-to-date phone number and your address. It also helps if the print on the I.D. tags is large enough to be easily read. Check your pet’s I.D. tags every few months to ensure they are still in fact attached to the collar, and the information is still easy to see and hasn’t been disfigured or worn so badly that it can’t be read at all.

What to do if you lose your pet

1. Contact your local animal shelter, police, and veterinary clinics: Often, when people see a stray dog, they will report it to the police or take it to the local animal shelter. Sometimes, a lost pet may be injured so a good Samaritan might take it to a local veterinary clinic. In our area, I would first call the police to report my dog missing and see if they had any calls that a dog was ‘at large’.  Of course, if you believe your pet to be stolen, this will be a little longer conversation. I would then call the Menominee Animal Shelter to see if anyone had brought my dog in to them.  My next call would be to our local vets: Bayshore Veterinary Clinic, Town and Country Veterinary Clinic, Peshtigo Veterinary Services and those surrounding in Menominee and Marinette Counties. Ask if they had any information regarding your dog and provide them with a clear description of your pet, last known location and a recent photograph of your pet.

2. Take it online: Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media are a great resource to help with being reunited with your pet. Often times, posts are shared and the owner can be found within a few hours, if not sooner. Your post should include a recent photo of your pet, date and time lost, how the pet went missing and last known location.

3. Search the neighborhood: Walk or drive through your neighborhood and surrounding area at various times of day. Ask neighbors, post office workers and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Post signs and flyers in the area where your pet went missing. Recruit friends and neighbors to help you search but warn them to keep a distance if they spot your furry pal and get you on the phone. Many lost dogs go from “Woo-hoo I’m on an adventure” to “survival mode” pretty quickly and they will run even from someone they know”

4. Advertise: Post flyers and notices at grocery stores, gas stations, veterinary clinics and any place that people frequent. When you post the flyers, ensure you include a recent photo, your pet’s sex, age, breed, color any specific markings date and time lost and last known location.

5. Above all, don’t give up your search: Animals who have been lost for months, and even years, have been reunited with their owners.