Finding Your Missing Pet

It happens between one breath and the next. An open door, a gate left ajar, a single distracted moment, and your dog or cat has run out and away. While this is an emergency, it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

First, be prepared.

If you got your pet from Helping Strays, she has a microchip that was originally placed under the skin between her shoulders. Be sure the microchip is registered to you and has your correct contact information. If you aren’t sure, contact the microchip company and verify the data. If you no longer have the microchip number handy, contact your veterinarian, as it is likely in your pet’s medical history. If your pet does not have a microchip, make an appointment now. Helping Strays does microchipping, as does your veterinarian.

Your pet should wear a collar with identification. Nothing gets a stray pet, dog or cat, home faster than a collar with an ID tag. A tag with name and phone number(s) works, as will a fancy engraved plate attached to the collar. You want something obvious and easy to spot-a phone number written on the inside of the collar may never be noticed.

Take pictures of your pet from the front and both sides, making sure to get any identifying markings. Digital is best. You will need these for posters and emailing, or as proof of identity if we have a major disaster, like the Joplin tornado.

Next, know who to call.

Don’t wait, start calling authorities immediately. It is possible that your pet is just down the road playing with the neighborhood kids, but he might already have been picked up by someone. Call your local Animal Control, veterinary hospitals in the area, and your local animal shelters. If you live near a county line, be sure to call authorities in both counties. In less urban areas, you may want to call the police, as well.

In Monroe County, the following numbers are be helpful.

  • Animal Control 618-939-8681x238
  • Helping Strays 618-939-7389
  • Bellson Animal Clinic 618-281-5100
  • Columbia Animal Hospital 618-281-7161
  • Mueller Veterinary Service 618-939-6188
  • Waterloo Animal Hospital 618-939-8282

If you are near the county line, these may prove handy as well.

  • St Clair County Animal Control 618-235-0585
  • Belleville Area Humane Society 618-235-3712
  • Mon Clair Animal Hospital 618-476-3786
  • Humane Society of Randolph County 618-282-7713
  • Red Bud Veterinary Services 618-282-6466

This is not an exhaustive list. Check out towns near you. Your pet’s rescuer may call their own veterinarian or the animal control closest to them. Get the word out.

Posters, Posters

Yes, they can make a difference. Post a flyer, with pictures, both in your neighbor and at any local stores that have public boards. Grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores, libraries, and bars may all have community spaces to tack up a poster.

Look in Person, and Don’t Stop

You provided an accurate description, but still, nobody knows your pet like you do. One person’s black shepherd mix is another person’s lab cross. Go to Animal Control in person and look at the found pets. Go every two or three days. Keep calling-let people know you are still looking. Lots of animals go missing and, unfortunately, it is easy for older reports to fall through the cracks. While your pet could be picked up quickly, some dogs can travel quite a distance and any pet, loose in the wild world, may let fear override training. It could be weeks before your pet is caught and placed at animal control. Don’t stop looking, don’t stop calling, don’t stop showing up! In Monroe County, a pet has five days to be claimed before being offered to Helping Strays or euthanised, so at least once a week, let animal control know you are still looking.

When you are reunited with your pet, don’t forget to let everyone know. Everyone loves a happy ending!