The nightmare of pet parents and pet care professionals came true recently for one of our Fetch! Pet Care locations: Harper the Beagle got lost while in the care of a Fetch! Pet Care sitter. While the local Fetch! franchise owner was able to safely recover Harper, this served as a reminder to us that a dog and can get loose at any moment, whether you have professional training or not.
The approach of summer, warm weather and outdoor activities leads to more lost pets. As such, we felt this was not only the perfect opportunity to share Harper’s story, but also tips to help keep your dog safe and what to do if your pet does get lost.
The most common reason pets run away is due to nervousness from being in an unfamiliar surrounding, an unexpected surprise, or having unfamiliar people in their surroundings. Pets are very sensitive, so any changes to their environment can evoke their fight or flight response.
Having the proper equipment is essential to making sure your pet does not get away while outdoors with them. Investing in a quality leash and collar can not only help to restrain your pet while out on walks but will also ensure that their identification is with them at all times. “One of the worst scenarios when a pet gets lost is when their collar breaks or slips off. In this situation, the pet is not only missing but lacking identification”, says Paul Mann, founder of Fetch! Pet Care. A good collar should fit snuggly, not slip over your pet’s head, and be sturdy so it does not break under stress.
Having proper identification on your pet at all times is the best way to ensure that they will make their way back to you. Last year, about 649,000 pets were returned to owners by shelters because the animal either had an ID tag or a microchip that allowed the shelter to get in contact with the owner.
Check to make sure that your dog has no escape exits from your house or yard area. Just a little opening can give your dog the determination it needs to work its way to freedom. When you have people entering or leaving your home, have them be conscious about where your dog is so they don’t slip out unexpectedly.
You also want to be mindful about who is walking your dog. Some dogs become very excitable when out and about and may easily overpower a child or small adult, so be certain that your walker is experienced and able to control your dog at all times.
We recommend taking your dog out for regular walks in your neighborhood so they are familiar with how to get home and so your neighbors can identify your dog if they are ever to escape. When Harper the Beagle got free from his dog walker, our local franchise owner gathered their resources including a local search party, flyers, contacted local shelters, and also used social media to get the word out. It was helpful that the people in the area were familiar with Harper and could identify him easily and report back to the owners that there had been a “Harper sighting”.
Often times when a dog does escape they will stay nearby but are too nervous or scared to let anyone approach them. Bringing a comforting reminder, such as a toy or their pet sibling, can often times lure the pet back to the owner. With Harper’s return, it was his sister Sadie who coaxed him back to their owners, by helping remind Harper that he would be safe with them.
Do everything in your power to make sure your dog is not able to run away, but always be prepared for the unexpected and have an action plan for how you bring your pet home. If your pet does get out, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your neighbors, social media and local pet organizations – the more help the better! To that point, professional pet trackers exist in many areas of the country to help you if all other options fail.
We are happy and relieved that Harper is back safe at home and wish you a safe and fun summer season out there with your pets!