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WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE LOST YOUR PET:
▶Begin your search IMMEDIATELY! The sooner you begin your search, the more likely your pet hasn’t wandered far off. Cats, in particular, stay within 4 to 5 houses adjacent to or across the street from their home.
▶Search your neighborhood during the day and night. Animals are more likely to hide during the day and come out at night.
▶During your neighborhood search, use a positive sound they recognize. This can include a favorite squeaky toy or shaking a box of treats. Call their name in a positive tone so they do not believe they are in trouble.
▶Notify your neighbors that your pet is missing and to be on the lookout for it.
▶Create flyers with a large, clear photo of your pet. Include information such as sex, breed, age, weight and color. Leave out one defining characteristic. If someone calls to claim they found your animal, ask them to define this characteristic. This could be a unique marking, the collar they were wearing, or any habits they may have.
▶On the flyer, list that there is a reward without specifying the exact amount. An amount too low may not drive people to reunite your pet with you. An amount too high may cause the finder to believe the animal is valuable and attempt to sell it.
▶Be wary of people claiming to have your pet and that they require you electronically transfer them money before you receive you animal. This is a common scam that targets lost pet owners and they do not have your animal.
▶Hand out flyers to people who work around your neighborhoods such as mailmen, FedEx and UPS drivers, and pizza delivery drivers.
▶Bring flyers to local animal shelters and police stations. Visit the animal shelter every few days to check for your pet. If you live in Jefferson Parish, your respective Parish is Jefferson Parish East or Westbank Animal Shelters. If you live in Orleans Parish, that would be the LASPCA.
▶Hang your flyer in places such as grocery stores, vet offices, groomers, parks, dog parks, gas stations, and schools. The ASPCA suggests putting flyers at eye level with children, as they tend to notice information about animals better than adults.
▶Leave your back gate open. Leave out your pet’s bed and/or litter box near the backdoor in order to help your pet smell its way back home. Along with this, cook and leave out “smelly” meats to draw your pet back in. Hot dogs, sausages, and bacon are great examples.
▶Make a post on NOLA Pets Lost and Found on Facebook. Include relevant info such as the area it was seen last, pictures, and a phone number to reach you. Also post on Lost and Found Facebook pages for neighboring cities and parishes, and Craigslist. If you are a member of your neighborhood association or NEXTDOOR- post there was well.
▶After a few days, keep an eye out for found pet flyers with descriptions that slightly resemble your pet. For example, a white dog can seem grey after being exposed to the elements for a few days.
▶Don’t give up quickly. Pets have been found months and even years after they were lost.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE FOUND AN ANIMAL:
▶If found in a neighborhood, ask people in the area if they recognize the animal and where it lives.
▶Take the animal to a vet or shelter and have them check for a microchip. This is the most efficient way to reunite pets with their owners and should be one of the first things you do. Bringing the animal to its respective Parish shelter in which it was found will be one of the best ways to find the owner, as it will be one of the first places they look for it. If the animal was found in Jefferson Parish, your respective Parish is Jefferson Parish East or Westbank Animal Shelters. If you live in Orleans Parish, that would be the LASPCA.
▶While driving, keep an eye out for LOST DOG flyers.
▶Check the NOLA Pets Lost and Found Facebook page for the animal, and look at other pages for neighboring cities and parishes. If you do not see the animal on these pages, post its breed, sex, and pictures on these Facebook pages.
▶While scanning Facebook pages and flyers, keep in mind the description may be slightly wrong. For example, someone could claim their Golden Retriever is lost, but you may believe your found dog is a Yellow Lab. Breed confusion is more likely to happen if the animal is a mixed breed. Miscommunication can apply to weights, behavior characteristics, and colors.
▶Create flyers and hang them in the area in which it was found with a simple description and omit identifying information. If someone contacts you claiming it is their animal, ask them for more details about the animal. For example, if the animal you found has a purple collar, ask the caller “Describe your dog’s collar” rather than “Does your dog have a purple collar?”
▶Bring flyers to local shelters.
▶If you bring this animal to your home, keep them isolated from your pets. It could have a disease or illness that your pet could contract.
▶If time passes and you cannot keep this animal, contact shelters and rescues. Even if they do not have room, ask them about making a courtesy post on their social media to find a new owner. In the post, ask about vet references, home checks, and a rehoming fee. If you do not feel comfortable asking for money to rehome an animal that was not initially yours, consider donating it to the rescue the new owner found your post on.
▶A shelter or rescue may be able to help you in the rehoming process by helping you screen applicants.
▶If someone contacts you claiming that this is their animal, ask for proof. This could be pictures or vet records of the animal. Do not be hesitant with asking for proof to make sure that animal gets back to its family, instead of being put in greater danger. Real owners are more than willing to provide proof of ownership to get their loved one back.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU MUST SURRENDER YOUR PET:
▶ Create a post on Rehome.com, a site where people looking to adopt pets can see your animal and you can screen their applications.
▶The shelter environment is a very stressful place for an animal to be. If you know ahead of time you must give up your animal, begin planning immediately what to do with your pet.
▶Contact friends, family, and other people you would be comfortable giving your pet to. This ensures you can always keep tabs on how your pet is doing, and even be able to see it after you have given it up.
▶Contact shelters and rescues with information about your animal such as breed, age, if it’s microchipped, sex, personality, and pictures. Ask them to post this information on their social media.
▶In your social media postings, ask that the new owner for vet references, a home check, and a rehoming fee. If you do not feel comfortable asking for a rehoming fee, it is common practice for the fee to be a donation to an animal rescue group. These steps ensure your animal is going into a responsible and loving home.
▶Post this information on NOLA Pets Lost and Found Facebook page.
▶DO NOT GIVE YOUR PET AWAY FOR FREE! There are cruel people in this world who have bad intentions for your animal. Ensure your pet will be safe and healthy in their new home.
▶Hang flyers in vet offices and doggy daycare centers. Still ask for home checks, vet references, and a rehoming fee.
▶Where did you get your pet? Reputable shelters, rescues, and breeders will take back their animals if you are unable to care for it.
▶Consider why you are rehoming your pet. Is it behavior issues? Could you hire a trainer? Some rescues will provide training to help you keep your animal, especially if your animal came from there.
▶Make sure your animal is spayed or neutered before being rehomed. Local shelters have information on low cost programs.
▶If a shelter or rescue group takes in your animal, volunteer with the organization and bring your animal to adoption events. Adoption events are a great way to get your animal out of the shelter or rescue faster, and into their new home. This also allows you to meet the potential new owner and decide if your pet would fit with them.