Pets column: The not-so-great escapeOne afternoon late last fall, I returned home from work and took out my two dogs — always the first item in my afternoon routine. Both came bounding up the stairs and out the door, where I snapped each onto his own exercise line in the backyard.
By: Amy Miller, For the Budgeteer News
One afternoon late last fall, I returned home from work and took out my two dogs — always the first item in my afternoon routine. Both came bounding up the stairs and out the door, where I snapped each onto his own exercise line in the backyard.
It was a beautiful day, so I decided we’d spend some extra time outside, and popped into the house to grab a bowl of water. When I came back out,
I felt something was wrong. As I approached, I realized why: Where the second dog had been, I found the exercise line attached to an empty collar on the ground, no dog in sight.
Trying to not panic, I started calling his name and looking around the yard, but he wasn’t there. I grabbed my other dog and started to walk down the driveway, calling.
Suddenly, I heard something behind me. When I turned around, my missing companion was trotting towards us, all smiles and wagging tail. I ushered both back inside the house and loosened the breath that had been caught in my throat since I discovered the empty collar.
The incident took only about three minutes, but to me it felt much longer.
For many, unfortunately, a lost pet isn’t found as quickly as mine. Multiply those panic-filled three minutes to three days or weeks, and an owner’s feeling of hopelessness can increase exponentially.
Every day, Animal Allies Humane Society receives phone calls from citizens who have either lost or found pets. Their question is often the same: “What do I do now?”
First, allow me a moment to thank anyone who has ever taken the time out of his or her day to bring a lost pet to the shelter. By ensuring the animal’s safety, you do a great service not only for the animal but also for their owners, giving them the comfort of knowing that their beloved pet was cared for while they were apart.
If you come upon a loose animal, the first step is to find out to which shelter he or she should go. This is determined by where the animal is found. For example, a pet found within Duluth city limits must be brought to the City of Duluth Animal Control, whereas an animal found in southern St. Louis County would go to Animal Allies Humane Society. More detailed information can be found on the Animal Allies website or by calling the shelter and providing the address where the animal was found.
If the animal is friendly, you may bring him to the shelter yourself. If an animal is hurt, in danger, or aggressive, call 911. When in doubt, do not handle a loose animal.
Once the animal is in the care of the correct shelter, he will stay for a set length of time — five business days in Minnesota — to give his owners a chance to find him. If he hasn’t been claimed within that time, he begins the steps to enter the adoption program.
If you lose an animal, it is vital to begin searching right away.
Call and visit all area shelters, as lost animals may be found far from where they originally went missing. To increase the chances of making a match, be as descriptive as possible, detailing any unique features of your pet. One person’s “black and white cat” may look like a “white cat with black spots” to another, but a “black cat with a white tip on its tail” is the same to all.
Use the power of social media and post pictures of your missing pet online. There are even Facebook pages, such as Lost Dogs- MN, created for the sole purpose of reuniting owners with their animals.
Put up flyers in your neighborhood and post “lost” ads both in print and online. Check nearby hiding spots such as porches or storage sheds, and leave out food, water, and an item with the owner’s scent. If you come across your pet, let it come to you. Approaching could cause a scared animal to run and may lead to a chase, worsening the situation.
Ideally, the goal is to keep animals from entering a shelter. By keeping your pet on a leash, giving it a collar with ID tags, micro-chipping (and making sure your contact information is current), and spaying or neutering to decrease roaming instincts, you can help make sure your pet stays where it belongs: safe and sound at home.
Amy Miller is the marketing and communications manager for Animal Allies Humane Society. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.