LOST PET FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About Lost Pets
Domestic pets are incredibly sturdy. They are survivors, and have strong instincts – even “couch potato” dogs and cats! We know of dogs that have survived in heavy traffic areas and scavenged for food for years without major injury. We have worked lost cat cases where they were fine even after 6 weeks in high coyote areas without a steady food source. A missing pet can survive for weeks, or longer. Water is the most important factor, and once they find a water source (which is pretty easy in most areas with water sprinklers, creeks, etc.) they can usually find food and safe hiding places.
A microchip is not GPS. In other words, just because your pet has a microchip it does not mean that your pet can be located with satellites. A microchip is for identification purposes, but someone must use a compatible “wand” (usually available at veterinary clinics and shelters) to scan the pet and read the chip information. Then, they have to take that information and contact the microchip company and get your information. That is why it is so important to update your information with the microchip company!
That is the most heart-wrenching question we get asked. The prognosis for finding a lost pet is highly variable, and depends on many factors, including: Early response, effective planning and implementation of the plan, pet’s temperament, pet’s health, pet’s breed, appearance of the pet, if the pet was wearing identification, if the pet is microchipped, weather, terrain, population density, circumstances surrounding the pet’s escape or disappearance, how quickly the search is abandoned, how bonded the pet owner is with the pet, false assumptions or misinformation, owner behavior, and rescuer behavior. To increase your chances of finding a lost pet, use all resources available to you and get professional help, including consulting with a Pet Detective.
Some pets do come home. But cars, fences, busy streets and well-meaning rescuers get in their way. In addition, if a pet is displaced out of their known territory they might not be able to find their way back home safely. Even if a pet starts off in the right direction, roads do not always continue in that same direction. Pets are more likely to return home if you live in a rural area with less traffic. A study done by a veterinarian found that only 8% of lost pets return home on their own!
Of course, in your pet‘s normal routine they would not cross a dangerous street. However, being lost is a traumatic event and pets do act in unusual ways. In addition, if a stray dog or predator was chasing your pet, they would run in whatever direction is the safest at that time. In addition, frightened pets act erratically, crossing streets multiple times.
Checking and rechecking for lost pets in person while networking with staff members is the most effective way to promote awareness of your lost pet at a shelter. Most shelters workers are overworked and underpaid, working long hours at a job that can be emotionally devastating. They do the best they can, but pets can get overlooked. Data entry errors are easy to make. Just think how easy it is to mark a black cat white, or a female cat male!
The best person to search for a pet is their loving owner. We highly suggest you try to search as much as you can, or come home from your trip as soon as possible.Additionally:
Yes, pet theft does happen. In the past it was not as common, but as small breed dogs become more popular it is happening more often.
When a dog goes missing it can be a fearful experience for the pet. Do not count on your pet coming when called. Even the best-trained pet will not always come when called. The interesting thing is that once they are back home they often act as if nothing ever happened!
The sad truth is that a person may want to keep your dog for themselves or possibly they are waiting for a reward to be posted. This is particularly true for cute small breed dogs. Another possibility is that some dogs are hard to catch. I know from personal experience, after trying to catch a roaming Chihuahua for 2 hours! Don’t count on a dog that is usually friendly coming up to people – they can act very different away from home. This is where witness development can play a critical role in finding your pet. A collar can be removed or pulled off. Sometimes the pet will lose weight and a collar could come off this way. Another possibility is that the phone number or information on the tag was not legible. This happens many times. Even if only one or two numbers are hard to read, it could be impossible to contact you.
The answer to this question is very personal. Some people search forever, some have to call off the search after only a few days. At Pet Search and Rescue we encourage you to continue aggressively searching for your lost pet for at least 6 weeks. There are many news reports of pets being found months and even years after they went missing. Here are a few to give you inspiration! Don’t give up!
A microchip is a great line of defense in protecting a pet. It is not a guarantee. There are many problems with the process of getting a pet scanned for a microchip. First, many people do not even know about microchips, or have a false idea about how microchips work. Second, people do not have the time or resources to get to a vet or shelter to scan the pet. Third, the microchip scanning equipment can be faulty, low on batteries or improperly used. Sometimes microchips will migrate, moving from between your pet‘s shoulders to another area of their body where it is not usually scanned. Fourth, just because a microchip is located it doesn‘t mean
that the person with that information will use it correctly. They could decide not to contact the microchip company because they want to keep your pet!!
Most pet owners start their search in the common ways: hanging flyers, checking shelters, etc. However, even if it seems like you are covering all of your bases, there are other things that need to be done. Just keep on reading!
Earthquakes, fires, floods, accidents, careless visitors, and home invasions can open windows and doors for pets to escape!
Every case is different. Not all techniques will work in every single case. Local ordinances, neighbors, and your personal situation may make it difficult to follow some of the techniques suggested. However, the suggestions we make are for you to have the best possible chances of finding your lost pet. It is certainly worth TRYING a technique before discounting it. In addition, there are many variations that could be possible. Be creative, ask for suggestions from friends and neighbors and consider coaching with a professional Pet Detective for personalized suggestions and recommendations for your case.
LOST PET FAQ
Yes. Scents are individual, they don’t blend. In addition, we teach our Search Dogs a “dismissal” process that helps them exclude pets that aren’t lost. We do request that for Search Dog services you have your other pets safely confined inside, like in a bathroom, bedroom or crate. It is better if you can find a scent article that is primarily from the lost pet, or used mostly by the lost pet.
We prefer items that are primarily from the lost pet, or used mostly by the lost pet. Items include: brushes, collars, harnesses, toys, bedding, carriers, pet clothing, favorite places to sleep, etc. We do not use sheepskin items, feces or urine.
We help people with all budgets. You can purchase our Guides for $19.99, and Checklists and Cheat Sheets for a few dollars. For coaching, we offer an email option for $160 and to add on a phone and text support option it is $80 more. Search Dog service prices range, generally from a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars depending on the travel time, services provided, and team(s) responding.
Unfortunately we can’t predict if the Search Dogs will find your lost pet in advance. On a standard search, our primary goals in a search are to have the Search Dogs: 1. Lock onto scent 2. Work the scent from the point your pet went missing from 3. Area searches or check sightings as time permits.
This is a very complicated question. First, if you are looking for a guarantee that we will find your pet the day of the search, don’t hire us. There is no way we can guarantee that. There are many possible outcomes in a search. We can find a pet alive, deceased, narrow down the search area, or find nothing at all. Second, our success is fundamentally tied to what actually happened to your pet. And, there is no way for us to predict that in advance of the search. Some Pet Detectives turn down cases because the case is hard and would ruin their success rate! We are willing to help in most lost pet cases where we think there is a possibility we can help. Third, the success rate of different methods varies greatly depending on a variety of factors including if it is a dog or cat and how long the pet has been missing. Overall, we over double your chances of finding your pet or having closure.
The best person to search for a pet is their loving owner. We highly suggest you try to search as
much as you can, or come home from your trip as soon as possible. Additionally:
internet, phone and fax.
“Lost & Found” sections.
We work to provide a very mobile service, as pets do not go missing in just one location! Please contact us to see if we can come to your area. Also, we offer coaching services via email and phone anywhere in the world!
There is no finite measure of how long scent lasts. No one can tell you that scent lasts 7 days, but not 7 days and 1 minute. There are multiple factors that influence the longevity of scent from what we understand. (And, what science’s understanding is about how dogs smell and scent is very basic.) We know that cool, moist conditions are better for scent than hot, dry conditions. We know that moderate rain does not “wash away” scent. We know that in a controlled environment, scent can last for a very, very long time – think years! The other thing to consider, especially in lost cat cases, is that they are often relatively nearby. That means that their scent isn’t from the original day that they went missing, but a more recent time frame.
No. There is no way that we can guarantee we will find a lost pet. We do work very hard to find lost pets and get their owners answers.
There is plenty of free information online here to get started. In addition, we suggest starting with:
of your pet.
We do offer some services and information for free. We want everyone to find their lost pet, no matter their budget! We would love to be able to offer all services for free, but in order to financially support our efforts we would need a large financial sponsor or partner.
In most amounts rain does not “wash away” scent.
Contact us for help – we can coach you and possibly offer on the ground assistance. 310-880-8268 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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Whether you're seeking immediate help to locate your missing pet or have a general inquiry about our services, we are here to lend a helping hand.