I feel so sad when I see the rows of lost pet flyers at the grocery store. I always say a silent prayer that the animals will be found safe and alive, and returned to their owners soon.
Then my mind usually shifts to how I was not too far away from experiencing the fear and grief those owners must be battling.
I own (or am owned by) two Cairn Terriers. Several years ago as I was going out the front door, one of them – Hamish – somehow managed to slip out with me. I remember the exact moment he realized he was “free”. He sniffed the air, looked around, and darted across the front yard as fast as his little legs would carry him. And, believe me, little dogs can run fast! I was chasing after him, calling his name, but I was so far behind him. At the end of our driveway was one of the busiest roads in town, and without missing a step, Hamish darted into rush hour, speeding, traffic.
Even as I ran after him, I braced for the thump of a car hitting his little body. I don’t know how, but the drivers of those cars on that busy road managed to see him. They stopped. As I continued the chase (looking quite frantic, I’m sure), traffic stood still. Finally, after what felt like forever, I got him.
As I carried him back home, in tears, traffic began to move again and I just said thank yous to everyone I passed. I was so thankful they all stopped. I wanted to hug every single one of them. And apologize. A lot.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to come to the aid of three dogs that have gotten away from their owners. One was, ironically, the spitting image of Hamish. Another was a dog completely covered from head to toe in mud. Even now, a year later, my backseat still shows traces of that mud. The third got loose in a busy parking lot when it managed to escape from the soft-sided “walls” of a Jeep it was waiting in.
Those situations all had happy endings. But what about those that don’t? What can we, as pet owners, do to help our pets be returned to us if they do slip away?
- Many municipalities require owners to license their pets. An added bonus to having this license on the pet’s collar is that if the dog is found, the authorities have a way to connect the pet to the owner.
- Keep the most updated rabies tag on the pet’s collar. In addition to saving a whole lot of complications, this is another way to help authorities find you. In the case of the muddy dog I found, it was reunited with its owners because of its rabies tag.
- Consider having your vet implant a microchip in your pet. The microchips are not tracking devices, but do serve as a permanent ID that can be scanned by vets, humane societies, etc. Collars can fall off, but the chip is permanent.
- Pet stores often offer the ability for owners to buy and create customized tags for their pets. Consider creating one with the pet’s name and a contact phone number for you.
- Your vet or local humane society may have other suggestions to not only prevent your pet from getting loose, but in aiding in the quicker, safe return of your pet.
Was a lost pet returned to you? How did you find one another? Share below. Remember, keep it clean, keep it kind.
Heather B joined Empathia in 2004 and is a Communications Specialist. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Christian Studies through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.