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An Insightful study into Lost Cats and Dogs

June 25, 2012 15 comments

Once you have lost a dog – for any length of time, you start to look at life with a whole new set of lenses.

  • You start to notice how many more lost dog signs there are in your community than you had ever notice before.
  • You start to pay more attention to those dogs you see wandering around unaccompanied by a human.
  • You become motivated to help others with lost pets – whether it be through support, encouragement or advice.

I have found myself doing all of these things and more since Lady was lost and found.

When someone posted this piece on Facebook recently,  What You Don’t Know About Lost Pets Can Hurt Them (by Kat Albrecht on the Maddie’s Fund website) I knew I wanted to read more. I couldn’t help but wonder if the study would mirror what I had already learned in the past seven months. It did. But it also contained some new information I had not known before.

I encourage you to read the whole study, there’s a lot of great information that can be gleaned from what Missing Pet Partnership has gathered here, but here are some of the more interesting bits of information covered in the report:

Lost Cats

Sick, Injured, and Panicked Cats Hide in Silence. They will not meow.

Displaced cats will behave differently when displaced. Their temperaments can determine how they will act.

One of the primary methods recommended to recover displaced cats is the use of digital wildlife cameras and baited humane traps.

Lost Dogs

Gregarious dogs are more likely to go to the first person who calls to them. They are also more likely to be “adopted” by their rescuer who fears the dog will be “put to sleep” if dropped off at a shelter.

Dogs that are wary of strangers are reluctant to approach them until they are able to overcome their fear enough to approach, usually when they become hungry. They are also more likely to be lost for weeks or months. People often assume they have been abused because they will “cower” in fear.

Skittish dogs are more inclined to travel farther and are at a higher risk of being hit by cars. They will also cower in fear making people think they may have been abused.

Pet Owners

Some pet owners develop “tunnel vision” and fail to find their pet because they focus on wrong theories. They assume their dog was “stolen and sold to research” when in fact their dog might have been rescued and put up for adoption through a local adoption event.

Cat caregivers are often discouraged by others who tell them “your cat was probably killed by a coyote,” when their cat may actually be hiding close by, like under a neighbor’s deck.

The study concludes with some great tips to rescuers and pet owners on how to go about finding a lost or missing pet. I have shared some of those in a previous post, but I encourage you to read some of the suggestions provided. Sometimes what works for one dog or cat doesn’t work for another. The more tools you have in your toolbox the better prepared you will be.

A few additional suggestions of my own?

  • Have a support network to help support you when you do lose a pet. Surrounding yourself with people who have experience in looking for lost dogs can make all the difference and help to keep you focused on continuing your search.
  • Share your pet’s picture, story and last known location on Facebook, Twitter and in email to friends and family. Ask them to share.
  • Call all the local shelters, rescue groups, animal control agencies and police stations so they can alert you if your pet is brought in.
  • If you find a lost pet, don’t assume they were abused or abandoned. They were most likely lost and every attempt should be made to find the owner. Stop thinking stray and start thinking “lost.”

Finally…

  • Don’t EVER tell the owner of a missing pet that their dog or cat was likely eaten by a coyote. It is probably the most disheartening and discouraging things someone can say to the owner of a missing pet (I should know, I heard it several times), and it may lead someone to give up their search just when their pet needs them most. Think it if you must, but just don’t say it.
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