Make sure your dog finds the way home

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dog with dog id
ID tags help furry friends find home again
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Dog finds the way home to a happy ending because his people planned ahead

Losing a pet is a painful experience that can happen to the most responsible owners. Hopefully it wonít, but it can. Here are several way to make sure your dog finds the way home should he ever stray too far. And if he's already run off once, check out the tips below for finding him fast.

Wearable identification

Identification is extremely important in helping rescuers reunite you and your best friend. Wearing the collar takes some getting used to for many animals, but some day it could be the difference between seeing your dog again or not. For an outdoor pet, make sure the collar fits and stays on because if they can squirm out of it they will.

Dog ID tags are an affordable and effective way to prevent your furry friend from going missing for too long. Tags typically include the owner's phone number and animal's name so that a good Samaritan knows what to call him. Lost animals get anxious, too. Hearing their name makes them less likely to take off when a stranger tries to help.

Registered microchips are a specialty pet finding product with a high success rate. Basically, theyíre a small device about the size of a rice grain that a professional implants beneath the animalís skin. Each chip has a serial number that corresponds to the owner's contact information, which must be registered in an online database.

Recently, some owners have begun attaching devices with small GPS units to collars. Consumer Reports found that they only work where GPS communication is available, which means if you live in a remote area itís probably not for you. The other drawback is the often short battery life, so thereís a short window for rescue, but that's the case with or without the help of a GPS. The huge plus is that owners can see their lost petís real time location right away.

What to do if heís already lost

Breathe and stay focused. Making sure your dog finds the way home isnít easy. Itís an understandably stressful situation, but your judgment is at its best when emotions are under control.

When an animal goes missing, itís critical to let your community know as fast as possible. Again, you have a small window of time so divide and conquer. Mobilize friends and anyone willing to print and post ďmissing petĒ posters and drive around the neighborhood calling for him.

Keep it short and simple with the posters. Include a clear, photocopied picture, the animalís name and your contact information. Leave them at grocery stores, libraries, busy corners and other places people often frequent.

Contact every animal shelter within a radius of 50 miles. Email them the animalís photograph and provide a detailed description so if anyone brings him in the staff will know to contact you. It also doesnít hurt to send this same information to local police and fire stations.

Stop by the shelters to view any animals that have been brought in since yours went missing. Itís always possible that a staffer hasnít recognized him as the one in your photograph. Go and see for yourself.

As you comb the streets, think proactively. Is there a nearby park or a neighborís yard he may be hiding in? Post his picture on your social networks should he wander further away than expected. Extend your search once you covered the neighborhood. This makes room for the possibility that a good civilian picked him up and brought him to a clinic or shelter thatís near to them, not you.

As soon as you commit to becoming a pet owner, prepare for the worst with at least one form of pet identification Ė dog ID tags, registered microchips and GPS devices. If he does go missing, most importantly, donít lose hope that your dog finds the way home. Remember that many pet searches do have happy endings so donít give up.

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