■ Metro Service / Contributed
No pet parent wants their pets to escape the house, car or yard and become lost. But curious pets have a way of getting out on their own, which not even the most watchful pet owners can always prevent.
The American Humane Association estimates that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during its life. While it is impossible to prevent every situation that may lead to a lost pet, pet owners can take some simple preventative steps to keep pets from becoming lost.
Identify the pet
Pets should wear some form of identification, which will differ based on the animal. For example, a dog can wear a collar and a name tag. A homing pigeon or other bird may have a numbered ankle band. Many pet owners choose to microchip their pets. These small devices are implanted under the skin and can be read by a special electronic wand. If you microchip your pet, it is essential to keep your contact information associated with the chip updated.
Track the pet
GPS-based devices can be used to locate a pet if it gets out of the house. Much like the tracking devices in phones and watches, small tags can be placed on the pet’s collar and be tracked through an app on the owner’s phone or another device.
Provide a secure space
Pets need a secure, supervised area to exercise. Fencing needs to be tall enough to prevent pets from jumping over it. Make sure pets cannot dig under the fence and that fence gates are always latched tightly. Self-latching fence gates can be handy.
Indoors, be sure to close doors promptly when exiting and entering the house. Be mindful of pets trying to escape.
Use a leash or carrier
When the pet is taken out of the house, he or she should be leashed or secured in an animal carrier. Many pets have a strong prey instinct and love to chase animals. Keeping pets close by can keep them from getting lost or injured.
Spay and neuter
According to the Animal Humane Society, studies indicate that sterilized animals are less likely to roam than unsterilized animals. Many clinics will perform the surgery for a discount; some may even do it free.
Obedience training and keeping a watchful eye on pets also can prevent them from getting lost.
While it is impossible to prevent every situation that may lead to a lost pet, pet owners can take some simple preventative steps to keep pets from becoming lost.