It's not hard to lose a pet. Even responsible pet owners lose them accidentally: the backyard fence breaks, the trusted caregiver drops the ball while you're on vacation, the grocery delivery person leaves the screen door wide open...
But not everyone who loses a pet does the responsible thing first. The first 72 hours are critical to search and recovery efforts for your lost dog or cat. Here's what you can do first in the unfortunate event that your beloved pet goes missing.
Step 1: Contact Local Authorities
In many cases, your family pet will wander back home on his or her own. But this doesn't always happen.
Your first step in pet recovery is to contact your local police office and your local animal control department. If found, a nice person will likely inform either one of those two offices to report a found pet. Chances are, your first phone call may be your last.
Step 2: Check in With Your Neighbors
Your lost dog or cat is probably nervous. When you knock on neighborhood doors to see if anybody has seen your pet, make sure to tell them if they do see the animal, it's best to call you and not try to catch your pet. You don't want to scare a lost dog or cat more than he or she already is.
Step 3: Inform the Local Pet Lover Network
Local veterinarians and pet stores often have ideas and can help. It's great to farm that knowledge with a phone call or an in-person visit. They might have suggestions about where to look or whom to contact.
Step 4: Use the Web
Websites like ours in North Jersey, Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter and local networking sites are great places to post an ad for your lost dog or cat. You want to make sure you complete steps 1 and 2 first because those steps can have an immediate impact on finding Fido.
But it doesn't hurt to go digital too. Online lost and found pet networks can give you ideas, help and emotional support. Pet lovers in those spaces understand what it's like to lose a loved animal, and they want to help you in your search and recovery efforts by spreading the word.
Whether your dog or cat has gone missing due to theft or negligence, the first 72 hours are the most important time to get busy searching. NJ STRAYS works with pet owners to help them find their lost pets before they end up in animal shelters with the potential to be adopted by another family, or worse: euthanized.
For more information about how to get help in Northern New Jersey, visit LostandFoundNJ.org. You can also reach out to us at help@lostandfoundNJ.org.