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Turn a Lost Pet Into a Found Friend

Ways to create a happy ending when you find a lost pet.

Do you know what to do if you find a lost pet? It might not be what you think. Reuniting a dog or cat with its family calls for dropping some common assumptions—that the pet has been “dumped” or will find its own way home—and making an effort to find the owners with some relatively easy steps.

First, if you can, confine the animal in your yard or some other secure place. Remember the advice given to lost hikers: stop and stay where you are. To keep moving makes it more difficult for searchers to find lost people and animals.

Assume that the pet is lost, not stray. That’s the recommendation of the Missing Pet Partnership, a national organization that helps bring lost pets back home. Put up flyers describing the found animal. Place them prominently throughout your neighborhood and at local businesses, especially pet supply stores and veterinary clinics.

Run a Craigslist or Pennysaver ad. Ads about lost pets are often free of charge.

Use social media. Tweet or Facebook that you’ve found a lost pet. Give a good description, including where it was found, and ask friends to spread the word.

Take the pet to a nearby veterinarian or shelter to have it scanned for a microchip. Microchips can migrate, so make sure the pet is scanned in several places.

Even if you don’t want to take the animal to the shelter because you're afraid it will be euthanized, you should still notify Orange County Animal Care, which serves Lake Forest, that the animal has been found because the shelter is the first place people are going to look for a missing pet.

Provide a photo and description that the shelter can post in its lobby or on its website. Notify other local city shelters as well such as those in Irvine, Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. It can be surprising just how far an animal can travel away from its home.

If the pet is a purebred, do a Google search for local breed-rescue groups that might be able to help, either by fostering the animal or publicizing to their members that it has been found. Don’t expect rescue groups to be able to take the animal off your hands right away. It takes time to line up a foster home. If at all possible (and sometimes it’s not), be willing to keep to keep the animal until it can be taken in by the rescue group.

Check out the Missing Pet Partnership website for more suggestions, including information on the typical behavior of lost pets and how to make an effective lost-pet flyer or poster.

Last but not least, microchip and tag your own pets—cats, too!—to make sure you are more likely to get them back if they are ever lost.

Pet of the Week

Julia is a 3-year-old blonde Chihuahua. She’s at Orange County Animal Care, 561 The City Dr., in Orange. Her ID number is A1151070. For more information about Julia or other pets available at the shelter, visit OCAC’s website at ocpetinfo.com, or call (714) 935-6848.

Pet Events

If you’re looking for a pet, don’t miss Forever Friends for Free on Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by The Angels Baseball Foundation, the event offers many adorable pets for adoption. The adoption fee is waived, but there is still a charge for a dog license or microchip. It takes place at OCAC, 561 The City Drive, Orange, CA.

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