Do you know what to do if your dog or cat runs away? Sooner or later, it happens to all of us. You open the door and your sweet little pup or quick-pawed cat hightails it out of the house. They may enjoy a sudden burst of freedom, but we know the world can be a dangerous place for a domestic animal and a sense of urgency dictates that we act quickly to help bring them home safely.
A few years ago, my beloved Shih Tzu, Tasha, slipped out the front door during a friend's visit. I was frantic that she couldn't fend for herself or brave the cold rain of the night. Here's what I did:
Start Searching Immediately
The most important thing you can do when your pet runs away is to start searching for it immediately - before they wander too far or into harms way. I didn't wait and see if Tasha would come home; I gathered a group of family and friends and we canvassed the neighborhood in all directions.
Bring a Bribe
Before I left the house, I made sure I brought a bribe to entice my dog. I walked through the neighborhood, calling her name and shaking a box of treats. Any familiar sound or favorite toy can be offered as an incentive for your pet to come to you.
Post Pictures within Two Hours
So no time was lost, I asked my daughter to stay behind and turn a current photo of Tasha into a "Lost Dog" poster. Posting within the first two hours is important. Include a picture, the pet's name, color and size, the day they got loose and your contact number. I also included the word "REWARD" on my posters.
Contact Shelters and Services
After the first two hours, I began calling local shelters. I also called the local radio station and asked that they make mention of our search.
Heartbroken, I fell asleep with tears in my eyes on the night Tasha went missing. On the way to work the next day, I got a call on my cell phone. It was a young mom, two blocks from my home. She had seen Tasha running down the street - cold, wet and frightened - and she brought her home. When she saw the posters in the morning, she called immediately.
The reunion with my beloved pet was tearful. I was so happy to see her. The young mom and little daughter opened the door and handed me a wagging-tail pup. When I went to write the woman a $100 reward check, she shyly declined. I asked her to consider it a gift from Tasha to her daughter for keeping her safe overnight and she agreed. Little did she know, I would have paid 10 times that amount to have my baby safe and sound in my arms once again.