How to Prevent a Lost Pet
Accidents can happen to even the very best of pet owners. In some cases, however, the heartbreak of losing a pet could have been prevented. No pet owner expects to lose their pet or have it stolen. Take these steps to help safeguard your pet.
Securely Fence Your Yard
Dogs can squeeze through small gaps under the fencing so be sure to patch any that you find. Regularly check your fence for new holes, gaps, or rotten boards and fix them right away.
Also be aware of items that could help your dog escape the yard, such as chain link fencing (some dogs can climb it!), or a patio set or storage unit near the fence (which a pet could use as a stepping stone to leap over the fence).
If your dog likes to dig, then dig a trench a foot or more deep around the perimeter of your yard, right underneath the fence line. Fill it with concrete or place more boards in the trench and then re-fill it. This will help to prevent your dog from digging underneath your fence and escaping the yard.
You can also build a separate dog run with a concrete floor (or with a similar setup to the above to help prevent digging dogs from escaping).
Lock Your Gates
Fence gates can blow open in the wind; swing open if they're not properly latched; or be left open for any number of reasons. Protect your pet by placing a lock or a tension cable across the gate to keep it securely closed. This will also prevent visitors from entering your yard without permission.
Keep Dogs Leashed and Cats Crated When Traveling
Pets can easily become disoriented and get lost if they escape in unfamiliar surroundings. Be safe rather than sorry.
Keep Collars and Leashes in Good Condition
Check collars and leashes for fraying. Replace them as needed. Make sure your pet's collar is properly fitted, as well; it should neither be too tight nor too loose, since loose collars may slip off over your pet's head.
Don't Leave Pets Unattended
Do not leave your pets outside or in the car alone and unattended. There have been unfortunate cases in which family pets have been stolen. It only takes a quick moment for someone to take your pet! If you need to run chores where your dog can't accompany you, leave him at home where he'll be safe and comfortable.
Train Your Dog
Dogs should respond to basic obedience commands. Many dog owners love to frequent leash-free areas, where dogs can interact with each other and get some exercise. However all dogs must be under control even while off-leash. A dog that is obedience-trained will be less likely to run off, and can be "called off" if play should become inappropriate and a "time-out" is needed.
Beware of Loud Noises
Many dogs have noise phobias over things like fireworks, thunderstorms, or construction noises. Don't bring dogs to events where loud noises are expected - even if they've never before had a negative reaction to them. If you must bring your pet, make sure he is supervised and securely leashed or crated.
It's also not a good idea to leave pets outside in yards (even if fenced) on holidays where neighbors may be setting off fireworks. Many a panicked pet has escaped a fenced yard when spooked by fireworks.
Spay or Neuter
Altered pets are less likely to wander.
Pets Should Always Wear ID
Identification includes a collar with license tag; a tag with up-to-date telephone number(s); a rabies tag; plus a microchip and/or a tattoo. Collars can come loose and tags may fall off, so a microchip is an an additional safeguard for your pet. A tattoo, on the other hand, is a visible mark that the pet probably has an owner.
Always make sure your contact information is current. Periodically check to make sure the tags are still readable, and if not, replace them. Many pet supply retailers can engrave new tags on-the-spot, or you can order tags online.
Have a Good, Current Photo Ready
Take a few clear photos of your pet right now. A full body shot as well as close-up of your pet's face should be the minimum. These photos will be indispensable if your pet goes missing.