The day has finally arrived. All your boxes and furniture sit neatly and securely in the moving van, and you have your children buckled up in the car. You have only one task left: you have to put your pet in the car.
You go to the bathroom or garage where you corralled your fluffy family member while you moved boxes-and you find the door ajar.
Then a shock of horror trickles down your spine.
Your pet has escaped, and as you frantically search throughout the empty house, you discover that your cat or dog has truly disappeared. But before you panic, take a moment to breathe, and follow the steps below. You do not have to leave your pet behind.
Can You Stay in the Area?
Some families have to immediately leave the area to make a flight, beat a storm, etc. But if you have the time to stay near your old home for a few hours, do so. As you search for your pet, follow these instructions.
1. Look in common hiding places.
Once you have scoured your home, look in your yard. Most pets-especially smaller ones-won’t venture far from your home, especially if they feel stressed. And because they feel stressed, they will hide rather than approach other animals or humans.
If you own a cat, look in common hiding places such as under bushes, cars, decks, and other dark and small hiding places. You should also look up at trees, playground features, fences, and even roofs. After all, when cats feel threatened (and moves feel threatening), they often climb out of sight.
If you own a dog, look for slightly larger hiding places-but be advised that small dogs still hide under bushes and cars. You should also have a larger search radius because dogs tend to run farther than cats. And if you have a friendly dog, look for it at parks and other places where people tend to play.
2. Call your neighbors or knock on their doors.
Your pet probably hasn’t gone far. Call your neighbors and ask if they have seen it. Additionally, go to your neighbors’ houses and ask them in person. You should also ask them if you can search their backyards.
3. File a missing pet report with animal control and animal shelters.
Involve local experts as well. If you have animal control in your area, ask them to help you search. You should also file a report with nearby animal shelters so they know to call you if someone brings your pet to them.
4. Visit animal shelters in the area.
If you don’t hear back from animal shelters, visit them. Remember to keep a family member at your home in case your pet returns after you leave.
5. Make an online call for help.
Facebook can become a valuable tool in your time of need. Chat your friends, and post a message on your wall about how you
lost your pet. Remember to include a written description, as well as a picture.
6. Hang flyers around the neighborhood.
You might not be Facebook friends with everyone in your neighborhood. Luckily, you can hang flyers that accomplish the same task as your online appeal. Offer a reward, and post these flyers at all corners and entrances.
7. Bribe with food.
As you search, leave food out by your porch. Your pet will feel hungry eventually. Most pets return to their homes to eat.
Do You Have to Leave?
If you have to leave your old home immediately, do not lose hope. You can still recover your pet if you take the steps below.
1. Have a friend or family member follow the tips listed above.
You still need to contact animal control, animal shelters, neighbors, and more. But if you don’t have time to do so, have someone you trust do it for you.
2. Leave a note for the people who bought your home.
Again, pets often return to their owners’ homes to eat. Ask the new owners to watch for your pet and retrieve it if they see it.
3. Look for your pet when you visit.
You can also continue your search if you ever return to see friends and family.
This situation may feel stressful, but don’t let yourself panic. Use the steps above to ensure all of your family members, even the furry ones, make it safely to your new home.