We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
― Desmond Tutu
This is a terrible time of year to search for lost pets. The warm weather is not helpful, and the long days make it difficult to get up early enough to beat the heat. Some years, instead of trying to get up early, I stay up later each night until I’m awake around dawn and then go to sleep mid-morning. This is not ideal either because then I’m asleep at a time when I could be making phone calls to people who’ve lost their pets.
At times like these, I think I could help so many more people, and cats and dogs, if I could get people to read my Guide to Finding Your Lost Cat or Guide to Finding Your Lost Dog before their pets go missing. So many times, before people contact me, they have done things to make the search harder, such as waiting too long to call me, or calling the name of the lost cat or dog. If I ask pet owners to read these guides ahead of time, they probably won’t, but it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable demand. One third of all pets will go missing at some point in their lives. If you own three pets, or if your friends and family have at least three pets collectively, which should include just about everyone, then at some point in the next ten years, you or someone you know is going to lose a cat or a dog. Learning the techniques and concepts in these guides would not be a waste of anyone’s time. People learn first aid, just in case it’s needed. I have taken a first aid course for pets, and haven’t needed to use that information once yet, fortunately. People learn what to do if they get lost in the woods even when they’ve never been lost and needed that information. They make earthquake preparedness kits even though The Big One might not occur in their lifetimes. It does not seem unreasonable to ask people to learn how to find lost pets before they need to, especially when it’s almost a certainty that they will need that information at some point.
I wish we could make it a rule that people who adopt from UBS would be required to read my tips on loss prevention and also the Guide to Finding Your Lost Dog before they get the dog. With every dog adopted from the shelter or from a nonprofit rescue, this information should be mandatory. Dogs who end up at shelters and rescues most likely got there because they were lost, and dogs who run away once are very likely to try to do it again. Before you get your driver’s license, you need to pass a written test and a driving test. It should be the same for adopting a dog or cat. You should have to take a class and pass a test, and only those who graduate get to adopt.
All the stuff I know now, I certainly wish I knew it before I lost my cat, Charlie.