Social media pages have recently been filled with posts of lost or stolen animals. And no matter how diligent we try to be when it comes to the safety of our pets, accidents do happen.
Cats run off during a house move, someone leaves a gate open and Rufus runs away or sometimes they are deliberately stolen.
Whatever the case may be, it’s always good to know what to do when your beloved pet goes missing.
According to Coriza Vermeulen of Cat Assistance Team (Cat) Garden Route, you should start searching as soon as you realise your pet is gone.
“Don’t wait. Start searching immediately. Check with you neighbours as soon as you can and ask them to check their homes. 90% of cats were located within a one-block radius of their homes, and most were hiding on the neighbour’s property,” she says.
The best time to look for a missing cat is late afternoon or early evening. Search for reflective eyes by using a flashlight. Cats usually don’t run away. They bolt and hide. They are territorial and their instinct is to hide in silence when panicked.
Lost and stolen dogs
Stray animals, especially dogs, have become a big problem. Stolen or lost power breeds that roam the streets will more than likely end up being used for illegal dog fights.
“We see a huge number of stray animals being brought to us. It really is a big problem,” says Garden Route SPCA’s public relations officer, Amber du Preez. “If your dog or cat is missing, report it to your local SPCA immediately.
“If you suspect your pet has been stolen, you also have to report it to the police. You have to actively search for your pet. The first couple of hours are crucial when dealing with lost animals.”
- Remain calm
- While you go from house to house, also pay attention to trees and gutters – these are perfect hiding places for cats.
- When calling your pet, try to stay in one place for about 15 minutes to give them time to follow your voice.
- Place something with a familiar smell outside so they can smell their way home. This could be your cat’s litter box, your dog’s blanket or an item of your clothing that hasn’t been washed.
- Use treats with a strong smell to lure him/her home.
- Call your pet every 15 minutes from your own yard after 22:00. It’s quieter later in the evening, which allows your pet to hear better.
- Visit local animal shelters. Check yourself and don’t only rely on phoning.
Microchip your pets. This can be done by your veterinarian or at your local SPCA.
- Sterilise your pets. Unsterilised pets have a bigger tendency to run off.
- Use collars with contact details and identification.
- Leave flyers with neighbours and local animal shelters.
- Create posters to distribute in your neighbourhood. The same poster can be used on social media.
- Keep your eyes on social media in case someone posts about your pet.
- Don’t stop trying.