10 Tips to Prevent Losing Animals & Aid the Recovery
The following 10 tips may help you prevent the loss of your animal, and help in the search and recovery efforts should they go missing or get stolen. By Heidi Wright AC, RMP
As a professional Animal Communicator, some of the most heart-wrenching and difficult requests I
receive are to help track or find a lost animal. These cases take a lot of time and energy. It is difficult to
work with distraught humans on any occasion, but the anxiety runs particularly high when the animal has
gone missing. I wish to offer here some tips that will hopefully help people take steps to prevent the
loss of their animals in the first place, and also information that is helpful in recovering animals that have been lost or stolen.
The following 10 tips may help you prevent the loss of your animal, and help in the search and recovery efforts should they go missing or get stolen.
In this age of a mobile society, you need to keep a close watch on your animals. You really should
treat them like they are your human children. This is not so much because you can’t trust your own
animals, but because they can be tempted or lured away just like young children. If you leave them in
the car, make sure it is secured. Make sure it is not too hot, or they may wriggle out of the window to
escape the heat. If you leave them tethered to a pole outside a store or restaurant, make sure you can
keep them in view. Strangers may tempt them with treats, or they may spot another dog that they just have to go meet!
You need to consider the needs of your animal.
You need to do your best to make the home happy for them as much as you make considerations for
humans. If an animal does not have adequate food, water, or shelter, they will go looking for it.
Animals also get lonely. If they are shut up in a house or kennel and don’t get to socialize, they may also
find a way to go do that on their own. If they are left unattended for too long, they may go looking for you, and get lost in the process.
You also need to think about the needs of this particular kind of animal. While all dogs need exercise, a
Border Collie is bred and designed to herd and run all day long. If you keep a Border Collie tied up
and don’t allow him to run, he may find a way out. A Chihuahua usually will not need to exercise as
much as a Greyhound. The needs of a working ranch horse or show horse are different from that of an older pleasure horse.
Happy cattle tend to stay in the pasture, but will go over and through fences if they are hungry or thirsty enough.
First, make sure you have good current photos of the animal.
Animals grow and change just like humans. Can you imagine giving the police a baby picture of your
missing 3rd grader? The child would have changed too much for the baby photo to be of much, if any
help. You may have the cutest photo of your kitten or puppy, but do they look the same when they are one or two years old? These current photos can be used to print up flyers.
4) Keep current photos with you where ever you go.
You should keep photos with you when you travel as well. You may wish to put copies in the glove
compartment of your vehicle, or in a pocket of a suitcase. If you are at a rest stop or motel, and your
dog goes exploring the neat new smells, it is much easier to show photos to people and ask if they have seen your animal.
When possible, leave a collar attached with contact information.
While I know this seems like a very common sense tip, it bears repeating, as many animals go missing
when they are not wearing a collar! I often hear people say they only put the collar on when they go out
. Until your animal can speak English at least as well as Scoobie Doo, the collar has to speak for them.
Cats usually hate to have a bell on their collar, but an identification tag is fine. If your dog has a talent for
loosing the tag attached to the collar, consider getting a type of collar that you can write on with
permanent marker, or have a collar custom embroidered with the name so it absolutely can not fade or be lost. Many companies do custom embroidery on horse halters and on dog collars
6) Update the info when you are traveling!
When we are on vacation, we write directly on the collar the contact information where we can be
reached while traveling. This would be the name and number of the hotel where we are staying, and our
cell phone number. This can be done on nylon or leather collars. If you are traveling, and staying at
several places, this can be written on duct tape in permanent marker which is wrapped around the collar
, and can be removed and updated with the current location. When we are staying with family, we
write their name and number on the collar as well. The hometown folks may know where to find the
relatives, but may not know our name if they read it on the collar. People are also more likely to phone
a local number. I would rather pay about $7.00 for a ‘vacation’ collar that we write on, or $4 for a roll
of duct tape, than have our dog(s) go missing hundreds of miles from home with no ID attached!
Take a photograph of any distinguishing markings.
I recently tracked a cat that had a little "notch" missing in one ear. A stolen horse had a particular scar.
Anything at all will do...a scar, a brand, a spot in a particular place, a bent tail, particular coloring, etc. I
know of a Sheltie that has certain black toenails on her front paws. A missing had dark spots on his
tongue, other than that, he looked like any other German Shepherd. These spots were visible in photos
where he was panting with his tongue hanging out. The idea is to have a good photo that could, if
needed, separate your missing animal from others with similar markings. If you can only describe your
missing dog as a Border Collie, or your cat as a Persian, or your horse as a Morgan, it will be difficult for strangers to recognize your particular animal even if they do see it.
8) Have a photo on hand showing your animal in different states of appearance.
What I mean by this is that a dog can look quite different when it has just been groomed with a nice
short hair cut than it does with a longer coat. Horses will usually look much different with a winter coat
than they do in summer. If a person steals a show clipped horse, a few months later the mane will be
much longer, the tail piece may be missing and the tail looks much shorter, and the body hair will grow
out. I know of a Springer Spaniel that only shows all the little spots on her back when she has a short summer hair cut.
Consider permanent identification methods.
Many people have a micro-chip embedded under the skin of their animals. You should ask your
veterinarian about this. The micro chip contains tracking information that is picked up when the animal is
scanned. Most horses that were lost after the gulf coast hurricanes in 2005 were quickly identified and
returned to their people because the state of Louisiana requires horses are able to be identifiable. Many
of those horses had microchips. If your animal is stolen, you can notify clinics and shelters in the area to
be on the lookout and to scan any animals that come in that may possibly be your lost friend. Animal
lovers can also help out if there is a microchip in the animal. I picked up a lost dog and took him to my
veterinarian, and they scanned for a chip, free of charge. After a call to the 800 number, the information
came back and the people were called. A few minutes later, I took the dog home just a short distance away.
Please note: I recently read some articles about the potential hazards of micro chips Please ask your veterinarian,
do some reading on your own, and make an informed decision.
A photo of you with your animal makes it much easier to prove 'ownership' should your animal
friend be stolen. Sometimes those who stole the animal will not willingly give them back, even if
confronted, if they don't think you can prove the animal is yours. This happens with pure bred animals
far more often that we want to know about. A photo of you with the animal, especially at an angle
showing any particular markings, will be of great help in getting law enforcement on your side. It is
better yet if you have a photo that not only shows you with your animal, but also shows the particular
marking on that animal (scar, spots, etc.). Remember the German shepherd with spots on his tongue? If
you look closely enough, you can usually find something special about your particular animal. The
stripes on Tigers and Zebras are like fingerprints, and no two patterns are alike, even though it may seem so.
You may ask,
Why is a photo important in recovering an animal that may have been stolen?
If you think your neighbor stole your brand new blue bicycle, and you believe you saw it in their back
yard, all they have to say is that they just purchased the exact same model. But if you recorded the
serial numbers right after you bought it, you may ask an officer to check the numbers to put the matter to
rest. If you are wrong, you can apologize. You can claim mental distress when you bring a plate of
apology cookies to the neighbor. It is the same with your animals. Being able to prove your position is
important. Photos of you with your animal are like recording the serial numbers on your new bicycle. If
this moment of discomfort brings your animal home, isn’t it worth it?
How can an animal communicator help with missing animals?
An animal communicator may help by giving you descriptions of locations or persons that the animal will
show to the communicator. Usually these clues help the humans go out and look. Sometimes the
information is very specific. Other times it is like putting together puzzle pieces. After I connect with an
animal, I will ask it to look around and 'show' me where it is. Although you may not always be able to
get a house number or specific address, the locations and persons should give you enough clues to go
look. I also give my clients some exercises to help the animal find its own way back home. So far, every
lost animal case I have worked on, the animal has given me correct verifiable information, landmarks, and locations for their people to go look.
Hopefully these tips will keep you and your animal friends together and happy for a very long time. But
if your animal should go missing, and the above tips don’t help bring them home right away, an animal
communicator can be of great assistance in tracking them and helping you find them. If I can be of help, please contact me anytime at www.CritterConnections.net.
Contact: Heidi Wright
PO Box 482
Malin, Oregon 97632