Here in Loudoun we are big animal lovers. In fact, on the Leesburg, Va fan page, we are often posting about lost or found dogs and cats, and one of my greatest joys in administering that page is the number of times we're involved in reuniting lost pets with their scared and lonely owners. So I wanted to do a post on what to do when your pet is lost. Check it out:
- Look for your pet. Cats that are normally indoor cats don't go to far and are usually hiding close by. Animals can also be injured, and may not be able to come to you.
- Call the local Animal Shelter and register your lost pet.
- Setting traps for cats is encouraged - they hide well and will not come to you if they are scared.
- Find that great picture of your pet (maybe a couple) and post them on your facebook page, community pages (like the Leesburg page) and any fan pages of local animal companies or organizations (like rescue organizations, the local shelter, vets, and groomers). Ask that they all "share" the announcement.
- Notify your vet.
- Make flyers and posters. See tips here.
- Hand out your flyers to neighbors and visit the local pet stores, vets, groomers and shelter. If the pet was lost in unfamiliar territory (while on vacation, after a recent move, etc). Be sure to do this kind of outreach in areas where your pet may go, as well as where they were lost. **
- Put up your posters. See tips here.
- Tag your car. See tips here.
- Visit ALL the local animal shelters, even a few counties away, and continue to revisit the local pet stores and pet adoption organizations. *
- Contact local papers - often they will put free ads for you to announce your lost pet.
* I really stress visiting the local animal shelters personally. I lost a dog many years ago and was told repeatedly that there was no dog matching my dog's description there. When we visited in person guess what we found? Our dog. He'd been there 2 weeks.
* I also stress visiting more than one animal shelter. My sister was renting a home in Berkley County WV, and her children let her 3 dogs out. One came home by himself. My sister tried to do all the "right things" including contacting local shelters about her missing dogs. Six months later, she was at a picnic in Steven City, VA when someone showed up at the picnic, apologizing for being late, they had adopted a dog in Leesburg, VA... guess whose dog it was! What are the chances? Somehow the dog ended up in the Loudoun County dog shelter, and after several weeks was given to a rescue organization who held frequent adoption events in Leesburg. The chances of this happening are so astronomical I can't even fathom how it came together. Sadly, the third dog was never returned. The lesson here are that dogs can travel far and live on their own for a very long time - check with shelters even beyond the county where the dog is lost, and also with the rescue organizations (frequently).
** When I was young, I had a dog that was "in love" with a neighbors dog when we lived in Oakton. We moved to the Aldie area and my dog went back to his "girlfriend's" house many times - every time he could break away. It's a long journey, the first time it took him 2 weeks, but after awhile he got the route down pat and he could make it there in a couple days.
** When I was a teen, my dog got loose in Fauquier County (near Warrenton). He returned to our home in Aldie on his own within 2 weeks.
** About 8 years ago, my cat (who we were trying to "make" an indoor cat and who was destined to be an indoor/outdoor cat) ran out our door and my husband chased him trying to get him back. The cat was scared and ran and ran. Eventually he wanted to come home, but had gotten lost running away. He was found (thanks to our posters in the neighborhood) by a neighbor 2 streets over at a house that looked a lot like ours and which was also at the end of a culdesac.
Pets are our best friends. Here in Loudoun we love our pets. If you have a lost pet, please always post it on our facebook page - with nearly 4K residents online there, we can help you get the word out quickly to a wide audience. www.Facebook.com/LeesburgVa We've been instrumental in reuniting several owners and their pets, and anytime there is a need, we want to be part of the solution.
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