By Janet McAfee
More pets go missing during the week of July 4th than any other time of year. Dogs terrified from the booming fireworks jump over fences in their frenzy. Some dig under fences to escape, chew through doors, and even break through glass windows and go on the run. Many are injured or killed in traffic. Many families never learn the fate of their beloved pet.
The little white pup pictured here has an amazing “journey home” story. On July 2, 2021, while fireworks boomed throughout our Valley, a good Samaritan found her running in the streets of Coachella. The sweet pup wore a pink collar but had no ID tag with her owner’s contact information. The finder brought her to the nearby Loving All Animals shelter. The dog only took a sip of the water provided, indicating she had recently escaped.
Loving All Animals’ microchip scanner revealed she was microchipped! The contact phone number listed was dead, but an Indio address was revealed. We sent the good Samaritan off hoping the address was still good and that folks would be home. Everyone was ecstatic when he soon called to update, “Her name is Pinky! She disappeared during the July 4th week a year ago! Her family had given up hope, and they are thrilled to have her back home, especially their 3-yr-old little boy!” It was a miracle that brought joyful tears.
A dog or cat can go missing for a variety of reasons any time of year. What are some of the things you can do to find a missing pet?
MICROCHIP & ID TAG
Dogs need to wear a collar with an engraved ID tag with their human’s cell phone number at all times. This enables anyone finding him, including animal control, to contact you immediately. PetSmart and Petco have machines that engrave tags with phone numbers and pet’s name. Any veterinarian can microchip your pet with your contact information.
CREATE A FLYER
Boiler plates to make flyers with your dog or cat’s photo can be obtained from www.bestfriends.org or www.petbond.com. It helps if you indicate there is a reward. Post flyers on local bulletin boards including Petco, Starbucks, vet clinics, grooming salons, and telephone poles in the neighborhood where he went missing. Be sure to post a flyer on the lost & found bulletin board at your county shelter. Pass out flyers to postal workers, gardeners, utility workers, tree trimmers, security guards, and others who spend time outdoors in your community. Take a current photo of your dog NOW so that you are prepared.
Signs can be posted on telephone poles with a staple gun, in areas where school children gather, at dog parks, and at intersections controlled by traffic lights. You need to make big, colorful, eye catching signs.
Post your pet’s photo on Facebook and Instagram and ask your friends to SHARE and TAG. This is a way to reach a large number of people in your community and beyond. Ask local animal welfare groups to post on their pages. Include your telephone number and the city where the animal went missing. Local communities have Facebook pages designed to reunite missing pets with their owners including LOST & FOUND PETS IN THE COACHELLA VALLEY. Post your missing animal on www.pawboost.com. Post an ad in the “missing pets” section of the local newspaper including the Spanish language newspaper.
Thousands of missing pets found their way home through www.Nextdoor.com, a free private social network for your neighborhood community. This site sends your pet’s photo and information to thousands of your neighbors. You can also post a stray animal you find.
GO DOOR TO DOOR IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
In many cases, your dog is somewhere in the immediate neighborhood, possibly inside a neighbor’s home. Search a 20-block radius within your home by car and on foot with flyers. One dog jumped out of a shopping cart in the Walmart parking lot, only to be found a week later hanging around behind Walmart. Call his name loudly as he could be in someone’s back yard. The best time to search is early morning or at night when there is less noise. Children and mail carriers are often a good source of information about pets in the neighborhood.
CHECK LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTERS
Go in person to your local public shelter since you are the best one to recognize your pet. All shelters check for microchips and ID tags, but sometimes collars and ID tags get lost. Return to the shelter every few days. Check shelters within a 50 mile radius in case he was picked up by someone traveling. Check their “Found” book and the “Dead Animal” book. Coachella Valley residents can check www.rcdas.org and www.psanimalshelter.org.
CHECK PETHARBOR.COM, CRAIGSLIST, AND FIDOFINDER.COM
Check Craigslist for “FOUND” animals. Be sure to check the section “animals for sale”. Someone may have stolen your pet and is trying to sell it for profit.
MAKE A TRAIL TO YOUR HOME WITH YOUR CLOTHING
Cut up a piece of clothing that has your scent such as a T-shirt, and leave small pieces of the garment over the blocks leading up to your home. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and this may lead them back home.
ORGANIZE A SEARCH PARTY
Gather friends to meet at Starbucks. Supply them with coffee and arm them with flyers. Map out the area each person needs to cover.
DON’T GIVE UP!
Most missing pets are reunited with their owners within a short time, while others show up months or even years later. Some that are microchipped turn up years later in shelters thousands of miles away. Unneutered male dogs are much more likely to run away, yet another reason to sterilize your pet. Pinky has several messages for us. Keep your microchip information up to date. Make sure your pet has a collar with an engraved ID tag containing your cell phone number. And never give up hope!