The Phoenix Files: Lost and Found

The Phoenix Files
Lost and Found

It could never happen to me. Or could it? I'm loved. I've got a good life. My human companion rarely lets me out of her sight and I never let her out of mine. But what if? What if she got lost, or hurt or detained at work for hours on end. What if she didn't come home? Period. What would I do?
First of all, you can be sure that the minute "my dad" came home, or one of the kids, I would bolt out that front door like there is no tomorrow. There would be no way they could catch me. I would run as fast as I could down the lane that we usually walk down in the mornings. I would traverse the field where we romp with my nose to the ground, up in the air, and then back to the ground on a mad search for the scent of my best friend. I would run back to the house, around the yard and down the street. Running and running as fast as I could. I would be deaf to the calls of my name. I'd pay no mind to the folks that would probably try to catch me, to grab my collar or hinder my frantic search. I would be on a mission and no one would be able to stop me. I might 'stray' far from home, going any place that I could remember we had been before. There is nothing I wouldn't do; no stone I would leave unturned. I'd go for miles and miles. Over the river and through the woods. Uptown. Downtown. Here. There. Everywhere. You get the picture.
But now I'm starting to scare myself. What if? In all honesty, the prospect is chilling. My sniffer isn't what it used to be. I do have a few years on me now. And without the comforts of home, I don't know how long I would last on my own. Perish the thought.
I'm sure the rest of the family would be missing me. They'd be worried. They love me too. Lucky for me. And, lucky for me, I wear a collar with a jingly, jangly ID tag. But what if? What if it came off as I scurried under fences? What if it just plain broke? Then, then what would become of me?
You think it can't happen to you. But it can. And it does. It happens all the time. At the HSWC they help reunite over 20 families with their lost pets each and every month. But what about the ones that don't get found. Now that's sad. My family knows the drill, but do you? In the event your four-legged companion becomes lost, follow these tips.
1. Walk and drive through your neighborhood looking for and calling your pet. Do this the instant you realize your pet is missing.
Check places your pet may most likely go- parks, schools, and neighbors' homes with pets--especially if your pet is an un-neutered male that may be looking for a female in heat.
2. Check places you normally walk together. Look in places where your pet could crawl for safety or seclusion. If you've lost a cat, check over and under, up in trees or under cars.
3. Call all area animal shelters. Immediately file a lost report. Call neighboring' jurisdictions as someone may have picked up the pet and taken it to another shelter.
4. Talk to people in your neighborhood. Show pictures of your lost pet to people who are outside frequently, such as children and postal carriers. If you don't have a picture, try to find something close in a magazine.
5. Leave Items outside of your home with a familiar scent, a litter box, pet bed or a sweatshirt recently worn by a loved one can attract a pet that has strayed.
6. Call local veterinarians. Someone may have picked up your pet injured or a finder who decided to keep your pet may have taken it to a vet for a check-up.
7. Place an ad under "LOST" In the classified sections of your local newspapers. Check the "FOUND" ads daily to see if someone advertises finding your pet.
8. Make flyers to hand out to people and post on telephone poles, at schools, bus stops, police stations, libraries, shopping centers, post offices, veterinary offices, etc. Rewards are a good idea as they motivate people who may normally not pay attention or may keep the pet as their own. Be sure that you can' be reached at the number on the flyer or in the paper.
9. Visit your local shelter at least once every three days. Your pet may seem unique to you, but shelters handle thousands of animals each year and they may not recognize it from your description, especially if it's a mixed-breed animal.
10. If you suspect your pet has been stolen call your local police department, or shelter immediately.
11. Be wary of pet-recovering scams. When describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic.
When talking about your pet to strangers offer no information, ask many questions and carefully answer questions posed to you.
12. Prevent it from happening again. All cats should be kept indoors. Dogs must be kept under restraint.
Don't leave your pet outside alone all day, and make sure that a person who can control him walks him on a leash.
All pets should wear current identification tags at all times.
It's true. Pet escapes can happen to even the most responsible pet owners. This license is one of the best I.D. tags your pet can wear. Make sure they have one.

The Humane Society of Washington County exists to improve the quality of life for abused, neglected, and unwanted animals. 13011 Maugansville Road, Hagerstown, MD. 301-733-2060.