For most pet owners losing a pet is one of their biggest nightmares. No matter how many precautions you take, accidents can, and often do, happen through no fault of your own. Common causes include visitors such as postmen or children leaving the gate open or your pet being stolen. Animals getting stolen has become an all too common occurrence, particularly with pedigree puppies and exotic animals as these pets will fetch a high price, even fully grown adult pedigree dogs are sold for at least several hundred pounds. The best chance of pet and owner being reunited is if the pet has been microchipped. This makes identification possible if the pet has gone astray but also if it has been stolen as it may flag up months or even years down the line when taken to the vets.
If the worst happens and your pet goes missing you need to begin by calling local vets, animal shelters and the police as these are the places that many people might take a stray dog or cat they find wandering the streets. Remember to leave your contact details with each place you call so that if your pet is brought there later they will be able to get back in touch with you quickly. If you know roughly the area where your pet was lost then knock on the doors of local residents and ask if they would kindly keep an eye out. Once you have asked around it is time to start your own search, taking a lead/catbox and your pet's favourite treat with you. If the area where the animal went missing is already known it is a major advantage. With cats, it is very common for them to get trapped in neighbours garages or outbuildings as they can be very curious, so ask your neighbours check these area's first, continually calling your pet's name as you search.
The next thing you need to do is to put up a reward and get the word out. Many owners hesitate before they start a full-scale search, thinking "maybe he'll turn up in a few hours", but these few hours are critical to finding your pet and it is essential not to waste time waiting. The reward will depend on the owners circumstances, this may be £100 or £1000, higher rewards will attract increasing numbers of people and if it is high enough you will even find complete strangers will begin actively searching for your pet. The more people that you are able to make aware of your missing pet the sooner you will be reunited. A wonderful think about the technological age is that you have access to millions of people instantly; use this to your advantage by posting on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Include details of where the pet went missing, a photograph and any reward offered. Often family and friends will share the information on their profiles to spread the word even further. If it is a pet dog that is missing you should add the information to the dogslost.co.uk database. Having given out all this information you will inevitably get some crank calls where people claim to have found your pet in an attempt to fool you out of the reward. It is important to prepare for this eventuality and only part with money after your pet has been handed over to you.
The old fashioned method of lost posters is also a useful tool in the search for a missing pet. It is possible to either design and print the posters yourself or get a website such as sherlockbones.com to do it for you (for a fee). Do this as quickly as possible, sticking them in the area the pet went missing and further afield. These posters should include a photograph of your pet, your contact details, where the pet went missing and any reward offered. Once these have been displayed considered printing more and having them laminated, so that you can replace the original posters that will soon become ruined by the weather. Posters double up as leaflets that you could post through your neighbour's doors.
Losing a pet is a very stressful and frantic time and it is all too easy to get drawn into ideas that will most likely lead to nothing. There are many pet psychics out there who claim to be able to find missing pets by simply using a photograph. Unfortunately these services are not reasonably priced and the costs will soon soar into the hundreds of pounds. If you have the money to pay for it and you feel that it is something worth trying then that is your choice, but it is essential that you do not put yourself into debt or under financial strain at this already heartbreaking time.
In conclusion, it is absolutely essential that you act quickly, time is of the essence when a pet goes missing. It is often the case with cats that they go off for days at a time, only to return after a long adventure. Whereas with dogs, it is very unusual to see a dog walking around without an owner, which means that if anyone does spot a dog on it's own they are likely to pick it up and take it to the authorities or a pet rescue centre. The situation may seem bleak but it is not unusual for a pet to be found weeks or even months after they disappeared; it is important never to give up hope.