Marissa DeGroot

Marissa DeGroot pets a cat at the Dane County Humane Society's Adoption Center West on Mineral Point Road.

Q: What should I do if I lost my pet?

A: If you have lost your pet, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a few recommendations that should be done concurrently.

Immediately when your pet is missing, the ASPCA says you should check carefully around your home — under beds, in closets, dark spaces and behind furniture — to make sure your pet isn’t hiding or sleeping somewhere. Shaking a food dish or treat jar could help lure out your pet if it is inside.

Once you’re certain your pet isn’t in the home, it’s time to take to the streets.

Take a slow ride or walk around your neighborhood to see if you spot your pet, the ASPCA says, and grab a photo to bring with. When you come across neighbors, you can show them the photo and ask them to keep a lookout. You can also ask them to check under their own porches, inside sheds and in garages in case they were locked in or became trapped on another’s property.

While searching for your pet, call local shelters, veterinary hospitals and animal control agencies in your area — in Dane County that could include the Humane Society at 608-838-0413, Madison Veterinary Specialists at 608-274-7772 and the Animal Services Office at 608-267-1989. These places may have already found your pet or can help keep an eye out for strays or lost animals brought in.

Social media can also be a powerful tool to help find your pet. Many areas have Facebook pages or groups for lost pets where users post pictures of animals they have found or pictures of animals they have lost.

Fliers with your contact information and a picture of your pet can also help. By posting them around your neighborhood, you can reach the people you have not told in person or who may not have seen social media posts about your pet.

The ASPCA also has a free mobile app, ASPCA Emergency Pet Safety, that offers tips and can direct you to local and national resources for finding your pet.

Having a collar on your pet with identification tags — including a name and contact phone number — can make it easier for a person who finds your pet to find you, according to the Dane County Humane Society.

Microchipping your animal is also an effective and permanent way to identify your pet. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice but can be scanned by most shelters and animal centers to find a unique scan number that is listed with your contact information in a nationwide database.

— Shelley K. Mesch

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.

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