Amy’s Owner Finally Has Her!
Amy at the Vet Clinic
Great news! You’ve successfully been reunited with your missing dog! If your dog has been gone for more than a day or two you will want to get them in to see a vet as quickly as possible to make sure they haven’t suffered any ill effects while out on their own.
Pictured above is Amy, a black lab/German Shepherd cross who was missing for almost three weeks in Waukesha County. She was finally successfully caught by her owner on a wooded hillside that adjoined a marshy field behind some apartment buildings. She had been seen in that area for several days but eluded capture. Amy’s owners immediately made her a vet appointment to have her checked over. Thankfully, other than sore, raw paw pads, six ticks, some dehydration and weight loss of about nine pounds, she was in good shape!
Amy’s Tender Feet
Sore feet and raw paw pads are very common from the amount of travelling the lost dog may be doing. Asphalt roadways and twigs and sticks on paths are especially hard on a dog’s feet. Often the sightings of these dogs will report the dog as limping and the owner might panic thinking their dog has been hit by a car. But raw paws heal pretty quickly and have no lasting damage.
Sore feet may make the dog avoid roadways and stick to softer paths of travel like dirt trails and grassy paths and ditches.
It is very common for dogs to have embedded ticks when they are found. Your vet may feel it is prudent to draw blood and do a “tick panel” to check for any tick-borne diseases. He may recommend a course of antibiotics if any disease is present or as a precautionary measure.
It is also common for a dog to have picked up some worms while out on their own. Remember, their diet may have consisted of roadkill, manure, waterfowl eggs and/or other sorts of nasty things! Your vet may recommend a dewormer if he diagnoses or suspects worms.
Dehydration and some weight loss are also common and are easily treated. Remember to follow your vet’s feeding instructions which will probably be small amounts of food and water at frequent intervals. You don’t want your dog to gorge on his food and risk the possibility of bloat or other stomach problems.
Allow your dog lots of quiet time when he gets home. He has been on an extremely stressful adventure and you will want to let him decompress and rest. It may take several days or more for him to seem like his old self. Schedule another vet visit if you don’t see improvement after the first week.
Most long-lost dogs recover totally and go on to live full happy lives. Enjoy it with them to the fullest!
(Thank you to Amy’s family for providing the photos for this article)
When trying to match lost and found pets, be aware of potential problems when comparing photos. Lighting conditions, exposure, subject position, camera angles, the age of photos (of lost pets), the pet’s condition, the position of eyes or ears, etc. All can affect our perception and cause us to miss a match. An obvious difference in these two photos is the location of the eye patch. Why the difference? When you snap a photo with the front-facing (selfie) camera on a cell phone and send it with Facebook Messenger using the camera icon on the command menu, Messenger sends the image as it appears in the preview on your phone – as a mirror image. Photos taken with the selfie camera are flipped when they are stored as files (on both Android phones and iPhones), so there is no problem with sharing images previously saved as files (left is left in the photo image).
When viewing photos, look for clues that suggest the photo was taken with a selfie camera and sent with Messenger (or perhaps some other app) as a mirror image – text that is reversed, objects that are reversed (e.g. a steering wheel on the right side of a car), or a rearview mirror angled toward the passenger side of a car. Also look for other telling features (though this can be tricky). In these two photos, notice the tiny dark spot beneath the eye surrounded by white. It appears in both photos – an indication that this is the same dog. But notice the splotch of brown at the base of the eye patch in the photo on the left. It is barely visible in the photo on the right, obscured by the upward tilt of the dog’s head.
Of course it always helps to have more photos that can reveal additional markings and features of the pet. Note that when filing a lost or found report with www.HelpingLostPets.com (HeLP) you can upload as many as five photos. And if you are a pet owner, keep plenty of photos of your pets – easy to do in this age of digital photography and cell phone cameras. If your pet ever goes missing, those photos may help to get him or her back home!
(Thanks Richard Gilreath of Texas for this tip!)
According to the U.S. Census the average American will move 12 times in their life. This means that many people do not know where their local shelter is when their pet goes missing. Factor in that dogs and cats (unlike car keys) do not remain where they are lost. They have four legs and walk so may easily end up in a neighboring county or jurisdiction.
Helping Lost Pets has added an incredibly useful feature to their already long line-up of tools to help an owner find their missing pet. Now when an owner fills out a lost dog report, along with their free flyers and shareable social media links, they will also receive a list of all animal shelters and animal control facilities in a 25 mile radius who have signed up with the Helping Lost Pets system. It gives owners an easy way to make sure that they notify the shelters that their pet is missing. In addition, Shelters and Vet Clinics have access to additional information about pets not available to the general public such as private phone numbers and microchip numbers.
Unfortunately, there are still many shelters who are not participating in this free service. Since an estimated 40 to 60% of animals in shelters are lost pets, it only makes sense that a shelter would want to quickly get as many pets as possible back to their original homes. When lost pets go home, space and resources are freed up for the animals that truly do need a new home.
Shelters can sign up for free at this link: www.HelpingLostPets.com/ORG
Are smaller microchips better? Not necessarily. There has been a trend towards very small microchips in the animal sheltering and veterinary world. Smaller microchips can be easier to insert for very small dogs, puppies and kittens. The drawback? “Mini” microchips have a shorter copper antenna. The size of the microchip antenna impacts the read distance for the chip. A smaller antenna means a shorter read distance so the chip is harder to find.
In the picture above you can see the amount of copper in a standard microchip (the middle microchip) and a mini-chip (the top microchip). The copper acts as the antenna. More antenna means a better liklihood that the microchip will be easily detected. The bottom microchip in the photo is a thinner slightly smaller chip that inserts easily but has a similar amount of copper as the regular microchip. The slimmer profile and polymer make it easier to insert and is a fraction of the weight of glass chips yet does not compromise read distance.
An educated consumer is a wise consumer. Make sure that you understand that a mini-chip may be more easily missed when being scanned. It is not a wise choice for larger pets, thick furred cats, or for young pets who may grow and develop into a heavily-muscled or long-haired breed.
The Slim Chip is a good alternative for those people who feel that insertion of the regular sized microchip may be painful for their pet or simply prefer a smaller gauge needle.
Regardless of microchip type, every vet clinic and shelter employee should be using Best Microchip Scanning Practices when they scan an animal for a microchip. We also ask that vet clinics make it a regular part of a pet’s annual exam to do a microchip scan. All new patients should also be scanned, in case they are actually someone else’s lost pet.
Likewise, we ask that animal shelters scan every incoming animal (including owner surrenders) at least twice (even consider multiple scanners as NO scanner is 100% reliable) The last known owner of the animal be contacted to make sure he is aware that the pet is there. Animals should be scanned again before adoption, transfer or euthanasia. These simple procedures could result in the reunions of hundreds of missing microchipped dogs and cats.