When a pet goes missing, it can be the most heart wrenching experience for any pet owner. It is a sad fact that many pets do find their way out of the security of their home by slipping through gates, squirming out of a collar or by fleeing from a noise or situation that frightens them. Holidays can be particularly stressful with new sounds (fireworks, noise makers) and the flurry of new people. When a pet gets lost the hours, days, weeks of searching can seem endless and to give up the hope of finding your missing pet may seem the easiest path.
The number one tip is to never give up… or as I’ve come to call it, “Keep the Faith”.
I was introduced to the term by a friend whose story I’d like to share. On October 9th, 2010 a beloved cat named Sammie accidentally escaped from his home. Sammie had never been outdoors and in addition to this, he is also blind. As you can imagine his owner, Karen, was frantic. She called shelters, she put up flyers, she combed her neighborhood daily. In a few days, a Facebook page was online and hundreds of people had joined the search to “Find Sammie”. Days turned in to weeks, weeks into months and still no sign of Sammie. The activity on the Facebook page slowed down to a few dedicated people and it seemed that hope was fading to find him and return him home safely. Karen never gave up. Flyers still went up, ads were still placed, calls were still made. She said, “There was never a day that I woke up and thought this is the day to give up.” Emails came in from across the country offering her encouragement and telling her to “Keep the faith”.
And then the day came. Exactly one year to the day after Sammie went missing, on October 9th, 2011 a kind woman from her neighborhood recognized Sammie from a Lost Pet ad. She had been feeding some stray cats for nearly 7 months and thought he was one of them. Karen could hardly believe it when she received the call. She went over to the place where he was being cared for and she spotted her boy. She picked him up. She cried and cried as she held him and he purred loudly, recognizing the arms that held him so tightly. He knew he was home. Aside from losing just a pound and a half and having fleas, Sammie was in perfect in health.
That day, Sammie’s corner of the internet exploded with news that Sammie was found! The story made the local newscasts and the papers. He has become a local celebrity! Reporters have shared his story, luncheons were given in thanks for all the people that helped bring Sammie home. As a token of appreciation and thanks, Karen gave us beautiful key rings engraved with “Keep the faith”. They open to reveal a picture of her Sammie. I had the honor of meeting and photographing this sweet cat just this past week. To see him snuggled in his warm bed brought tears to my eyes.
I hope none of you ever have to experience the heartbreak of losing a pet but if you do, please remember Sammie and “keep the faith”.
There are many ways to protect your pet and aid in their return should he or she escape the security of even the most responsible pet owner. Here are some tips from the ASPCA:
1. Ensure your pet always has the proper identification. Even your indoor cats should have a collar with their name and contact information on it.
2. Microchip! Many of your local rescues and shelters provide very low cost microchip services. Make sure you keep your contact information up to date should you move or change phone numbers.
3. Call your local shelters to see if your pet has been brought in or picked up by animal control. Call every day or visit them if possible. Don’t forget to check with private rescues as well.
4. Flyers. Post them all around your neighborhood – include the name and photo of your pet and a phone number where you can be reached.
5. There are many Lost and Found resources on Facebook and the internet in general. Get the information to as many of them as possible. There are also paid services like FindToto.com that will place anywhere from 250 to 10,000 phone calls to your neighbors and local businesses.