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Find Your Missing Pet, Loss Prevention, Part 1 of 3

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June 20, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about finding your missing pet, and loss prevention.

Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Carla Huston, Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Professor.

Carla, many of us who are pet owners cannot picture our pets ever disappearing or running away, so when it does happen we often don't know where to start with the search process because we're not prepared.

First, how can we prevent pet loss in the first place?

Carla Huston: We can all put collars on our pets, whether it's a dog or a cat, making sure they have a collar with identification, and the owners contact numbers would be the first step. Other things we can use are microchips, and I'm a big proponent of microchips because they are not removable, and they can't be lost.

What a microchip is, it's just a very small chip about the size of a piece of rice, and it's injected into the dog or cat, and that microchip can be read with a universal scanner or reader, which most of your Humane Societies and animal control officers will have.

Amy Myers: And it's not a GPS collar. It's not the same thing as a GPS collar, is it?

Carla Huston: No, that's a good point. What a GPS collar is is a collar that has the capabilities of geo locating your pet, and GPS collars can also be lost, which is one of the disadvantages of them. But GPS collars are handy in certain situations because they can be connected to your cell phone or to a computer, where you can locate your animal just about anytime you need to.

Amy Myers: Okay, and it's used a lot for hunting dogs, but they're becoming more affordable and usable for your average pet owners, too.

Carla Huston: That's correct. I've seen them where you can purchase them anywhere between $60-$75, up to several hundred dollars, and they'll vary in quality and capabilities in terms of whether or not they're waterproof, and their range of action.

Amy Myers: Of course, if your dog gets stolen, then the thief can take them off.

Carla Huston: That's correct, Amy, and that's why I'm really a big proponent of the microchips. Collars are great. They're easily visible, and any community member, anyone that finds your pet can easily read a collar and an ID. However, microchips permanent, and we've all read those stories of the pets being reunited with their families years after being lost, and most of those cases are because that animal had a microchip placed.

Amy Myers: Can you talk about a physical fence versus the electronic fence?

Carla Huston: A physical fence would be your best option. Having something that the pet can't jump over or dig under is very important. If that's not possible, there's also the electronic fencing options. However, depending on the dog, whether or not they actually work. I have heard stories of dogs being able to run right through them if they're really prompted to do so.

Amy Myers: And of course, spay and neuter your pets.

Carla Huston: Absolutely. Many pets get out because they're either in heat or they're seeking a dog in heat, so having your pet spayed or neutered will definitely help keep them from wandering. In addition to spay and to neutering, having other necessities such as good food and water, and shade, and enrichment activities at home will also help keep your pet at home.

Amy Myers: And also at night, we should keep our yards well lit so that we can see around us, and you could even get those motion sensors in case you live in an area like a rural area where folks tend to steal animals, quite frankly. A lot of people are starting to get those motion sensors, and even home surveillance cameras that connect to the iPhone and such.

Carla Huston: That's correct. Having motion sensors or even pet cams or house cameras where you can tell where your pet's at could also be helpful, and also as you've mentioned, help deter against crime because unfortunately pets do get stolen.

Amy Myers: And that actually happened to you, didn't it?

Carla Huston: It did, Amy. I had a litter of puppies stolen right from my backyard. I had an outdoor kennel. It was kept in a dark area, and a brand new litter of puppies were stolen one night.

Amy Myers: What did you do to retrieve some of them?

Carla Huston: What I did was I made up flyers of the pets, and that's one thing, always have pictures and photographs of your pets to identify them. I made up flyers and took them first to the police department and filed a report, and then I took the pictures and had them laminated. Put them on nice brightly colored posters, and distributed them to various places within the community such as the Humane Society, veterinary clinics, the police office, the sheriff's office, and pet stores, co-ops, anywhere I could think of.

Place them wherever you can that's legal. For example, the bulletin board in the cafeteria on campus. Make sure you have them laminated and brightly colored so that they don't fade. And the other thing is, is when and if you do recover your pet, be sure to remove them.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Carla Huston, Associate Professor. I'm Amy Meyers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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