Everybody loves the Independence Day, right? Well, not really. Those lovely fireworks that delight us humans cause countless dogs to jump fences, dig under gates, and chew through anything in their way to flee the sudden booms and bright lights in the sky.
Here are some pointers to make sure your dogs stay calm and safe during this most boisterous of holidays, and advice about what to do if they go missing, or if you find someone else’s lost dog. For complete information on everything related to missing pets, see the Missing Pet Partnership (MPP) website at www.missingpetpartnership.org.
- Your dog should always wear a collar, including an ID tag with your current phone number and a rabies vaccination tag.
- Have your dog microchipped. In Oakland, this is mandatory for dog licensing and is cheap. Your vet will also do it, which is less cheap.
- Keep recent large photos of your dog for future identification.
- Repair loose boards and holes in fences, and fill in gaps at the bottom.
- If possible, keep dogs inside. Dogs who have never before jumped a fence have been known to do so when terrified.
- Register with a pet-finding service – google “lost pets” to find a list. (HomeAgain – is one such service.)
If your dog escapes:
- First, thoroughly search your own home and surrounding neighborhood (get permission before entering your neighbors’ yards). Dogs can get trapped in sheds, closed inside trailers, tangled in berry vine thickets, and can fall in wells or swimming pools. Check everywhere!
- Check all animal shelters and rescue groups in your area. Private pet detectives (see MPP for a list) and organizations like HomeAgain can help with this task.
- Put up posters in your target search area (see the MPP web site for instructions). Do not rely on an 8 1/2X11 notice taped to a pole!
- Talk to your neighbors (and your mail carrier) and distribute flyers in your target search area. (Again, pet detectives and pet-finding services can help.
- Use the newspapers and online bulletin boards to post notices, and check the Found Pets columns daily.
- Offer a reward to motivate others to help in the search or to contact you if they find a dog.
- Get experienced help. Check the MPP web site for pet detectives in your area, who use search dogs and will help with phone lists and posters. Pet-finding services will help with flyers and will notify vets, shelters, and volunteers in your area.
- Use caution when approaching a scared, lost dog – speak kindly and reassuringly and offer food.
- Check for ID tags or tattoos. The latter are usually inside the ear or under the leg. Have your vet or local shelter check for microchips.
- It is best to file a Found Dog Report at your local shelter, where the dog’s owner is most likely to look.
- Check the lost dog ads on the Internet and in local newspapers.
Jane Sokolow is a certified canine masseuse who donates massages to pooches at local rescue organizations. She has been a student of Kat Albrecht, founder of Missing Pet Partnership. Contact her at email@example.com.