Lost and Found Pets

Lost Pets

  • Immediately place large (letter size is not big enough), brightly colored flyers at the major road intersections within at least a 3 mile radius of your home. Putting up signs around your neighborhood is not enough — remember that dogs can travel 5 miles per day! Make sure the lettering on the sign is BIG and can be easily read by anyone driving by in a car. Duct tape signs around telephone poles to ensure they won’t fall off.
  • Immediately call your area animal control facilities and humane societies to report that your pet is missing. Include surrounding counties, as animals wander and people who find pets often take them to different county shelters. Atlanta Area Animal Shelters contains an exhaustive list.
  • Post on local Facebook groups, NextDoor, etc. as soon as you can. The more eyes that are quickly looking locally the better.
  • Check the facilities/humane societies in person at least every 3-5 days (depending on your county’s stray animal holding period). Include neighboring counties.
  • Ask to check isolation areas at the shelters and ask employees to check the dead animal pick up list in case your pet was hit by a car.
  • Run lost ads in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and any local newspapers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 404-577-5772
  • Check found ads in the papers daily.
  • Call neighbors and ask if anyone in their family has seen your pet.
  • Offer a reward.
  • Call all vets in your area including the emergency clinics. Fax them a picture and description of your pet if possible.
  • If your pet is wearing a rabies tag, make sure the vet who vaccinated your pet has your correct phone number.

Found Pets

  • Keep the pet that you found either indoors or in a fenced area while you look for its parents. Feed/water the animal daily. If the animal is hurt or sick, either take it to your local vet or call a humane society or rescue group for help.
  • Call animal control facilities/humane societies and report finding the pet. Call and cancel your report if the pet’s family is found.
  • Place flyers around your neighborhood and the major road intersections near where the pet was found.
  • Some shelters are now implanting microchips in all cats and dogs that are adopted. So, be sure to take the pet to a veterinarian to have them scanned for a microchip. (The vet should not charge you to do this.) Call first to ensure your vet has a microchip scanner.
  • If you don’t know the breed of dog/cat that you found, ask a vet or expert to help identify the breed
  • Place found ads in local newspapers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 404-577-5772
  • Call all vets in your area and report the found pet
  • If the pet has a tag, call the number on the tag.

How to Prevent Your Pet from Becoming Lost

  • Spay or neuter your pets as soon as possible. Both male and female pets that are not spayed or neutered are much more likely to go looking for companionship and to produce unwanted litters.
  • Make sure that your pet has on a collar with a rabies tag and a current ID tag AT ALL TIMES. Cats can wear stretch collars with flat tags that are riveted directly into the collar. Microchips are also a good idea as a backup method.
  • Keep cats indoors. When dogs are let outside, they should be in a fenced yard or on a leash. Leash laws apply to cats as well as dogs in many counties.
  • Keep all pets indoors during severe thunderstorms and other severe weather situations and on the Fourth of July (even if they are normally kept outside).  Many pets escape from their yard or run away because of their fear of the firecrackers or thunderstorms.
  • Consider getting your pet microchipped. Collars and tags come off – a microchip stays with the pet for its lifetime. There are many low-cost microchip services available.

Why So Many Homeless

There are so many homeless pets because unfortunately, many people do not think about the long term commitment, financial responsibility, moral responsibility (i.e. spay/neuter, heartworm prevention) and work involved when they bring a pet into their home. The decision to add a pet to your family is a serious 10-15 year commitment and should not be taken lightly.

In addition, we have an overwhelming pet overpopulation problem in the United States. Each year approximately 8 million healthy dogs and cats are killed simply because there aren’t enough homes for all of them. This is due to individual pet guardians not spaying/neutering their pets (accidental breedings), individual pet guardians breeding their pets on purpose and thinking it is OK because (1)they have a “purebred” (2) because they think that their pet should experience motherhood or (3) because they think that they have such an exceptional pet and also because of puppymillers and irresponsible breeders.

For example, here in the metropolitan Atlanta area alone, there are hundreds of dog and cat rescue groups and yet last year over 104,000 dogs and cats were killed in Atlanta area shelters. Pet Orphans Rescue and Adoptions animals come from a wide variety of sources including animal shelters who were about to destroy them, direct guardian give-ups who were about to turn them in to the shelters and strays who’s homes could not be found.

The top reasons we get pets at shelters are:

1. Strays – This is caused by guardians who let their pets roam, who don’t spay/neuter them so they look for opposite sex companionship, guardians who abandon their animals or never bother looking for them once they are gone and by guardians who don’t keep ID tags on their animals at all times (regardless of if the dog is an inside only dog or if the dog has never before gotten out of the yard.)

2. Moving – We can’t tell you how many times a day we hear this one! Guardians moving to other cities who don’t want to pay to transport their pets, guardians moving into an apartment that won’t take pets, guardians that don’t want to pay a pet deposit, guardians moving into a new house and don’t want their pets to dirty it, etc. This is by far the number one reason why guardians dump their pets! Pets are not junk that you throw away when you move, pets should be family members that are taken with every time the family changes its residence! If this doesn’t work for you then don’t get a pet in the first place.

3. Having a baby – Why is it that so many people no longer want to keep their dog (that they formerly treated as a baby), when they have a human baby of their own? We find that people dump their formerly beloved family pets due to no fault of the pets simply because they have a baby. Often they tell us that the dog is wonderful with the new baby but that they simply don’t have time for it anymore. Or they tell us that their dog isn’t good with a baby and we find that they have selected a dog breed that is well known to be terrible with babies and toddlers. If they had done simple research prior to getting a certain dog breed and if they had exposed their dog often to small children, they probably wouldn’t have had this problem. Also, we find that some dogs don’t do well with babies because the families dump the dogs into a permanent backyard existence or an ignored existence once they have a baby. We recommend that people have their family first and then adopt a pet. If that isn’t possible, pick a breed or mix that is known to be good with children and socialize to children often. A good book to read is “Childproofing Your Dog” by Brian Kilcommons.

4. Don’t have time for – The same people who were so enthusiastic about their new puppies or dogs when they first got them often consider them a burden once they realize that they are a living being that have certain needs that can not be ignored. They are not a toy that they can put away when they feel like it. These people call us and say “I’m traveling more now”, “I’m working more now”, “I’m going out alot now”, “I’m not home enough and the dog isn’t getting the attention it deserves” or “I feel guilty but don’t have time for the dog”. Don’t get a dog unless you can make a 10-15 year commitment to its care.

5. Puppy has grown up – “The puppy has gotten too big”, “We wanted a small dog”, “It’s not cute anymore”, “It’s gotten too big for inside the house/apartment”, “Now that its 9 months old it’s acting too wild”, “It’s too rough for my kids” or “It’s too hyper”. Be very careful when you adopt a puppy that you are prepared to handle the dog when it reaches adult size. Don’t just look at the tiny puppy and think how cute it is. Look at an adult of comparable adult size and make an intelligent decision. Keep in mind that puppies need lots of training and exercise in order for them to become a well behaved pet. When you get a puppy, sign up for a good puppy obedience class and practice often. Also, keep in mind that most puppies and dogs will not exercise themselves…you need to exercise them by providing long walks, ball throwing, etc. Remember that the large breed puppy may play rough and may be too active for your small children. Keep in mind that puppies are a lot of work and that there are hundreds of thousands of well behaved adult dogs being killed at our shelters every day that might be a better choice for your family’s pet.

6. Behavioral problems – “Dog barks too much”, “Dog chews everything up”, “Can’t get it housebroken”, “Too hyper”, “Dog jumps on us”, “Dog digs up garden”, “Dog runs away or jumps fence”, or “Dog is aggressive to strangers or other dogs”. Dogs who are raised as outside only pets are usually unhappy and bored and will develop many of these problems, don’t get a dog unless you will keep it mainly as a housepet. Puppies can’t get housebroken unless someone is home during the day or can come home from work often enough in order to let it outside. Dogs who are not obedience trained will often act hyper and wild. Dogs who are not socialized to strangers and other dogs when they are young will often act aggressive to them when they grow up. Dogs that are not spayed/neutered will often escape from the fenced yard in order to find a mate. If you don’t want chewing, then don’t get a dog under the age of 3 years. Puppies and young adult dogs naturally will chew, chew, chew. If you have this problem now, confine your dog to a “dog proofed” room with plenty of chew toys when you’re not watching it. Make sure that you have the time and money to spend with a puppy or adult dog and that you will allow to stay mainly inside your home before you consider adopting a pet.

7. Children have lost interest – Loving parents often adopt a pet for their children with the understanding that the children must take full responsibility for its care. We have found that children lose interest in caring for their pets within a very short period of time and it then becomes a battle between the parents and children. Please don’t adopt a pet unless you, the parent, want the pet as much as your children do. Children can not handle the responsibility of housebreaking a puppy, obedience training, exercising, feeding, brushing, health care, etc, so don’t let their begging influence you. YOU will be the one responsible for this pet.

8. Elderly guardians – We get many calls from the children of elderly people who pass away or have to go into a nursing facility. They have made no prior arrangements for who is going to take care of their beloved pets. Please make arrangements in your wills for who will get your animals if something happens to you. If you are a senior citizen and are thinking about adopting a puppy or dog, please add 15 years to your current age to determine how old you will be when the dog reaches the end of its lifespan. If you think you will be too old to care for it, then consider adopting one of the many wonderful, already housebroken older dogs for your home.

P. O. Box 720422
Atlanta, GA 30358

Considering Declawing Your Cat?

Written by Dr. Christianne Schelling, DVM

If you are considering declawing your cat, please read this. It will only take a moment, and it will give you valuable information to help you in your decision.

First, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing, it’s something people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation.” I agree. In many European countries it is illegal. I applaud their attitude.

Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat’s claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”. When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.

No cat lover would doubt that cats–whose senses are much keener than ours–suffer pain. They may, however, hide it better. Not only are they proud, they instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.

Your cat’s body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.

I have also had people tell me that their cat’s personality changed after being declawed. Although, the medical community does not recognize this as potential side effect.

Okay, so now you realize that declawing is too drastic a solution, but you’re still concerned about keeping your household furnishings intact. Is there an acceptable solution? Happily, the answer is yes. A big, joyful, humane YES! Actually there are several. The following website “Cat Scratching Solutions” provides many solutions as well as and insight into the psychology of why cats scratch. You can teach your cat to use a scratching post (sisal posts are by far the best). You can trim the front claws. You can also employ aversion methods. One of the best solutions I’ve found is Soft Paws®.

Soft Paws are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat’s front claws. They’re great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can’t exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks. They come in clear or colors–which are really fun. Now that’s a kitty manicure! The colored caps look spiffy on Tabby or Tom and have the added advantage of being more visible when one finally comes off. Then you simply replace it. You can find Soft Paws® on the web by clicking here or call 1-800-989-2542.

You need to remember, though, that the caps and nail trimming should only be used on indoor cats who will not be vunerable to the dangers of the outdoors.

For a list of countries in which declawing is either illegal, or considered extremely inhumane and only performed only under extreme circumstances, or for medical reasons, CLICK HERE.

Not yet convinced? Click Here for “The Truth about Declawing – Technical Facts.”

Questions or Comments? Like to add to this website? Please feel free to email me: vet@cathealth.com.

Dr. Christianne Schelling  
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