Lost & Found Pets: Finding Strays

Written by Honey Souza, Humane Education Coordinator

PART THREE: Finding Strays
A three-part series of what to about missing pets.

Found a pet and you’re a wonderful person who would rather help than ignore it? What do you do? Well, that depends on a few factors. To make it easy, follow these flowcharts on what to do when you find a dog or a cat. If you find any other types of pets, follow the same steps you would if you found a dog.

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Lost & Found Pets: The Search

Written by Honey Souza, Humane Education Coordinator

PART TWO: Searching for Lost Pets
A three-part series of what to about missing pets.

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Last month we covered some helpful hints for preventing your pet from getting out and getting lost. Hints like ensuring your pet is spayed or neutered to reduce the urge to roam.

Unfortunately, even the most attended-to pets can go missing. If that’s the case, don’t panic. Take a breath, clear your head, then get to work because expedience is key.

  1. Look: First and foremost, get out and look around your neighborhood. Don’t be shy about going door to door asking permission to look in/around their yards. Don’t forget to look up in trees and on roofs. Pets are more inclined to return to familiar sounds… shouting out their names with a twinge of panic in your voice is not a familiar sound and may even make them more inclined to stay away. Traverse a five block radius while engaging in common conversation with the occasional yet normal recall cue. Bring a flashlight to look in dark areas like under porches.
  2. Call: Call your local animal control to ask if your pet has been turned in. Don’t stop there, go to the shelter to check for yourself. Two people can look at the same pet and see two different breeds. While you’re there, you’ll want to fill out a missing pet report in case your pet comes in later. Inquire with neighbor city shelters. If someone has stolen your pet, they might take it to another town.
  3. Access: Leave garage doors cracked and pet doors unblocked. Open your windows and keep noise down in your house so that you have a better chance of hearing their calls to come in, especially late at night.
  4. Check the Net: Check online. First stop: Facebook. The following groups listed below are dedicated specifically to returning lost pets to their families. Then you’re going to want to check Craigslist.org. Be sure to check, the categories of “Lost & Found”, “Pets”, and “Free”.
  5. Post It: Posters really do work. Post them around your neighborhood, library, and vet offices. Print out baseball type handbill of your pet to give to neighbors in the chance that they will see it later on. Of course you’re going to want to create your own “Lost Pet” posts on the internet, too. Be sure to use a variety of pictures with different angles and good lighting. Don’t forget to mention if your pet is on any medications or has dietary restrictions.
  6. Smell: Leave strongly-scented items outside such as your pet’s favorite pillow, toy, or favorite treat, even litter boxes. Cook up something meaty that has a strong aroma. While it’s still hot put it outside. You may attract the rest of the four-legged neighbors, but it’s worth it if your pet is amongst them. Then share some of that with your pet.
  7. Keep Looking: Check your neighborhood, local shelter, Facebook, craigslist, and other online sources every day. It might take hours, days, or weeks for a found animal to be reported. Many people assume that just because a loose animal doesn’t have a collar, it is unwanted or abused. They may think they are helping by taking it in and/or re-homing it themselves.

Stop to think “why”? Your pet could have run away from a fearful situation. Very often they’ve run off to answer nature’s call to mate. Often when animals who have free roam of the neighborhood run off, it’s because they are not feeling well or are injured. Regular check-ups and constant monitoring of your pet’s health could help prevent that. This is also why once your pet does come home, you’ll want to take it to the vet as soon as possible.

For Cats:

They are most often closer than you think. There’s a good chance that they’ve just discovered a new hiding place in your house, tastier food, and a warmer couch five houses down, or a new friend.  Cats are very resourceful animals and can do well on their own for days, or even weeks. Most cats eventually return on their own within about five days.

Many neighborhoods have their own neighborhood watch email/text alert system. While going door to door, find out if yours does and get the contact info to be part of it. If your neighborhood does not have a watch system in place, take the initiative and make one.

Lost & Found Pets: Prevention

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Written by Honey Souza, Humane Education Coordinator

PART ONE: Prevention
A three-part series of what to about missing pets.

One in three pets go missing in their lifetime and it’s not necessarily the result of bad pet owners. Countless factors could contribute to pets being separated from even the most exemplary pet parents. Your four-year-old niece leaves the door open, a tree falls on that fence you painstakingly built, you got in an accident and your pet ran off in fear.

It can happen to anybody, to any pet, but follow these steps to reduce the possibility of that happening:

  1. Secure your borders. You were responsible and went for the house with the six foot fence around the entire proper perimeter. Great! Now inspect your fence regularly as natural elements may weaken or damage it over time; including moles and even your own dig-prone pet.
  2. Microchip*. Anyone who has anything to do with animal welfare as a profession will tell you to microchip your pet. Be sure your vet checks for it at your animal’s annual check-up, just to make sure it’s still working and your info is up-to-date.
  3. Identification Tags*. This is obvious, but so many pets are found without them. Make sure your information is current and includes your cell phone number. Whether you put your pet’s name on the tag is up to you, but if you’re concerned about somebody stealing your pet, you don’t want to make it easy for them to call your pet’s name.
  4. Recall. Train your pet to come when called. It’s easier said than done, especially once your terrier spies that squirrel and you cease to exist. It takes time, patience, and repetition. Hire a trainer if you must. It will be worth it when that squirrel is on the other side of a busy street.
  5. Reduce Boredom. Pets love adventures! Give your pet enough mental and physical stimulation while you’re home so that it doesn’t try to find its own entertainment while you’re gone.
  6. Spay & Neuter. This should be a no brainer, yet it is the cause of so many lost pets, both male and female. Male dogs have been known to jump over (or even through) six-foot fences with ease to get to a female in heat. They will find a way, which is why, unfortunately, shelters exist. Remember, fences mean nothing to cats.
  7. Car Seat Belts. Accidents happen and they’re even scarier for pets than for humans, which is why they more often than not run off after an accident occurs. Get a pet seat belt and make sure it’s fastened to the back of a harness… not the collar. Can you imagine what would happen in a collision when a dog is restrained by the neck? This goes for dogs in truck beds too. California law states that any animal in the back of a truck must be encaged or tethered.

*Low-cost microchips and identification tags are available at Butte Humane Society.

How to Build an A-Frame Agility Ramp

a-frame-dog-agilityAgility courses can be a great training and exercise tool for you and your pup! They can include a variety of equipment that increases your dog’s athletic ability and stamina, while strengthening the team communication between handler and canine. Basic equipment that you can find on agility courses are jumps, tunnels, a-frames, teeters, weave poles, and dog walks.

We use A-Frames in our play yard to work with the dogs that are in our care, so we’re going to dive into how to DIY this type of agility equipment for your own backyard!

Let’s start with WHY you should consider building an A-Frame ramp…

  1. Agility is good exercise for you and your dog.
  2. Agility helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog because he must trust in you.
  3. Agility your dog fulfill it’s natural instincts (ie. climb, run fast, squeeze through narrow spaces, etc).
  4. Agility is good mental stimulation for your dog (following commands and navigating equipment) and you (calling out and signaling commands for your dog at a fast pace).
  5. Agility helps establish better communication between you and your dog.

A few things you should consider when you begin working with your dog on the A-Frame…

  • HEIGHT: Training should start with the A-Frame in a low position. It can be raised as dog becomes more comfortable, but your dog can seriously injure itself if it jumps off the peak of a high frame because it isn’t quite comfortable with the apparatus yet.
  • COMMAND: Pick a word to signal the dog to seek out and climb the A-Frame (e.g. “Climb”, “Climb it”, “Up”, “Frame”).
  • CONTROL: Handler should have good control of the dog on a short lead until dog knows how to climb and exit safely. Again, we don’t want Fido getting hurt, so make sure you are providing a strong sense of control in the situation – this will help you perceive when your dog is comfortable and will give your dog a sense of security.
  • TREAT TRAINING: Use treats to lure / reward the dog for climbing up and down the A-Frame. It’s common to stop the dog at the very top of the frame and treat, then at the bottom contact.
  • SUPERVISION: Dogs should NEVER be left to climb equipment unsupervised. Again, we don’t want any injuries to occur!

 

Now let’s turn to the DIY Network for a step-by-step guide on how to build your own dog an agility ramp:

Tools & Materials Needed:

  • 4×8′ sheets of plywood
  • table saw or circular saw
  • 2x4s
  • nail gun
  • wooden rungs
  • galvanized nails
  • house paint
  • sand
  • eye rings
  • chain

Instruction Steps:

  1. Build the A-frame climbing wall. Use a table saw or circular saw to cut two 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood down to 3′ x 8′. To make the plywood pieces rigid, attach 2x4s around the perimeter and one lengthwise down the middle of each piece. Attach the 2x4s with a pneumatic nail gun through the face of the plywood.
  2. Add wooden rungs to the wall. Wooden rungs will aid your dog’s traction as he climbs the A-frame. Starting from the bottom, mark lines every 12 inches across the width of the plywood. Cut 1×4 lumber 35 inches long for each rung. Center each rung horizontally along your lines; you should have a 1/2″ reveal on each side of the rung. Attach the rungs with wood glue and 1-1/2″ galvanized nails.
  3. Paint the A-frame wall. Apply two coats of standard, exterior house paint. Mix the paint with sand to add traction to the walls. Having two different colors on each side of the A- frame is recommended so your dog can get a clear picture of the obstacle.
  4. Finish the A-frame wall. Use 3-inch hinges at the top and to attach the two sides of the A-frame. Attach eye-rings about midway down on each side of the wall (on the 2×4). Attach a chain through the eye-rings so you can adjust the height of the wall.

Keeping Pets Happy While You’re Away

 

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When pet owners are away, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure pets stay as happy as possible. Take a look at these five tips and ideas to make sure your pet stays safe and entertained while you’re gone!

  • Try to take your dog on a walk before you leave, especially if you’ll be gone for a long amount of time. This way your pet gets their energy out while you’re with them and they can nap while you’re gone!
  • Make sure your dog wears tags even while they’re at home. This could save a lot of stress and trouble if they ever got out or decided to run away while you’re gone.
  • Check to make sure your pet has water and has been fed before you leave. Leave an extra treat or toy for them to distract themselves from your absence.
  • Consider leaving the radio on. Sometimes light noise can help a dog or cat to relax and it can also drown out any annoying sounds from outside that might bother them.
  • To give cats a space that’s all their own, try buying a cat tree to put in one spot of the room, and put toys in that area as well. This can be the cat’s spot to hang out, relax and play while you’re gone!