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List: Posted: 01/31/12
Losing a beloved pet can be a harrowing experience. Whether your 'indoors only' cat has escaped or your dog has jumped the fence, you'll want to act fast to find your lost pet. There are many easy ways to get the word out about your lost dog or cat so you can find them as soon as possible. Since time is of the essence, the more methods you use to alert people to the missing animal, the better.
One low-cost way to find your lost pet is by using fliers. You can quickly make up a flier on your computer containing a picture of the pet as well as some pertinent information. If you don't have a computer, just hand-write it, attached a photograph of your pet, and make a few dozen photocopies at the library. It's a good idea to include information about where the pet was last seen, and you should always include your phone number in case anyone finds them. Post these in your local area on lamp-posts and poster boards, and put them up in local pet shops, vets, libraries, and at your community center.
A responsible pet owner should have these posters on hand at all times in case the pet does go missing, with a blank space for the date and location of the loss. That will save valuable time in the event they do get lost.
The Internet also gives you access to many great services that will help find your lost pet. Internet pet recovery sites like FindToto.com and PetFinder are a great way to reconnect with your lost pet. More locally-based sites include your local area's Craigslist site - go to the 'community' section to browse missing and found animals. Placing an ad here is also free. Sites like this are an easy and fast way of notifying neighbors and getting your pet back home.
It's also worth making the rounds of all your local animal shelters. Begin by compiling a list of all the shelters in your local area, and call them all to give them a description of your missing animal. Check to see if they have a website - some of the better-run shelters have an online list of found animals, which is updated daily. Tell them whether your pet is microchipped or not, age and sex, and any identifying features such as scars or surgeries.
Also do the same with your local vets. Call them all and ask them to call you if someone brings an animal matching the description of your pet in for treatment.
When it comes to offering a reward, that is up to you. It may encourage the fast return of your pet, but it also perpetuates local pet scams where neighborhood pets are stolen by local gangs or even children in order to make money collecting the reward. Always pay reward money in cash and in person, and never send money to someone who promises to ship your pet back to you from abroad or a neighboring state.
If someone is being unduly rude or persistent contacting you with their demands for money in return for your lost pet, this is definitely a scammer. Scammers frequently claim to be a religious or church-driven individual or family who is currently 'out of the country' doing God's work, and took your pet with them to ensure its safety. This is a lie, of course, and many of these scams originate from Nigeria. If the person is local and is demanding a large sum of money for 'vets bills,' this is also probably a scam.
In both cases, contact your local police department and never arrange to meet these people anywhere other than a public place. In terms of your own safety, always take a friend with you with you get a call about a found animal. Practice a little common sense, and take time to educate yourself about common 'lost pet' scams.
It's also a great idea to have an email list on hand of neighbors who are animal lovers so you can contact them about your lost pet. Other local animal lovers who know you and your pet will want to work hard to help bring your pet home.
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