When it comes to keeping your pet safe and sound at home, an ounce of prevention truly does go a long way. While we know that even the most caring and diligent pet parents can’t always prevent the worst from happening, there are many steps you can take to not only keep your furry friend from escaping in the first place, but to make sure that it’s much easier to locate him if he does somehow get out.
The most important things to have on hand are all your pet’s records and proof of ownership. If he is located, you’re going to have to prove that you are indeed his owner, and that he is safe and healthy enough to be released back into your care. These items include proof of ownership, immunization records, records of his veterinarian visits, and a recent photo of your pet. Some people even keep a DNA sample, clipping of fur, or other item that contains the lost pet’s scent, in case you own or are acquainted with another animal that is able to locate the lost pet via scent tracking.
When it comes to making sure that your pet is easy to identify, the most important thing is to make sure he has a collar that is tagged with identification. In addition to the basic ID tags, there are other notifications that can be printed on additional tags to help keep your pet out of trouble. If your furry friend is likely to become aggressive out of fear when confronted, it is more likely that animal control will be called, and your pet may be accidentally euthanized. Giving your cat a tag that says “I’m fearful, not feral” or your pit bull a tag that says “I’m friendly, not a fighter!” may keep potential rescuers from pre-judging your pet, and allowing him to end up in the wrong hands.
Another useful type of ID tag is a lost pet locator, such as the one PetHub offers. This is simply a tag that attaches to your pet’s collar, and contains your pet’s name, and also a unique bar code that can be typed in on a computer or scanned by any smartphone. This code will bring up your pet’s profile, and let the average person who may have rescued him know that you are out there actively seeking your pet’s return. Once you list your pet as lost, anyone who scans this tag can contact you.
Likewise, microchips are a good idea for dogs and cats alike. While they won’t help with identification if the pet ends up a few houses down the block, in the event that your furry friend is taken to a pound, humane society, or other shelter, the first thing that’s done is to check for a microchip. Most shelters only keep animals 3 days before putting them up for adoption, so having a microchip implanted can keep your best friend from ending up with another family.
In addition to making sure that your pet is easy to locate in the event that he inadvertently escapes, you can do a great deal to secure his surroundings, making it far more difficult for him to escape in the first place. Building a screened-in porch for an indoor cat and erecting fences that animals can’t either burrow beneath or jump over, even if your property spans acres, is the best way to give your pet the chance to explore in a secure area, while knowing he’s likely to come home.
Many pets escape when they’re in the middle of being transported, particularly if they’re going someplace unpleasant, like the vet. Dogs have been known to break their leashes and keep running, and cats will find a way out of a carrier that isn’t securely fastened at all times. Don’t give your pet even the slightest bit of opportunity to get away from you when you’re on the road, even if the entire ordeal causes a lot of whining and crying along the way. He’ll forget all about it in a few hours, and still be safe and sound at home.
It’s also important to make sure you have the right kind of leash for your dog when taking him on walks. If the collar fits too loosely, he can use the leash set-up to slip it over his head and take off running. Meanwhile, using a thinly constructed retractable leash on a 120-pound dog provides the opportunity for the material to break, and your dog to run much faster than you can catch him.
Of course, proper training goes a long way. While no pet will observe the rules all the time, especially when frightened, teaching your pet at an early age that bad behavior such as going beyond the boundaries or removing his collar is unacceptable will cut down on the likelihood that a pet will choose to wander, even when the opportunity presents itself.