What to do and how you can help a lost or found pet
Losing or finding a pet can be a concerning or upsetting time. At St Clair Vets, we're not just about caring for your pets but also supporting our local community of pet lovers in Fife. One of the most distressing experiences for a pet owner is losing or coming across a lost pet in need. This is why our team have put together a guide to support you through what to do if you've lost your pet, how to help if you've found a lost pet, and steps you can take to prevent such situations in the first place.
Lost your pet? Here's a step-by-step plan
Losing your pet is a heart-wrenching experience, but there are steps you can take to increase the chances of a reunion:
- Stay calm: Your pet may be frightened, so remaining calm is vital. Search your immediate area, calling their name
- Notify local authorities: Contact your local animal shelters and vets. Provide them with a detailed description of your pet, including any distinctive marks or features
- Create flyers: Distribute flyers with your pet's photo, contact information, and their last-known location. Post them in and around your local area, pet stores, and online community groups
- Use social media: Share your pet's information on local social media platforms, including local lost-and-found pet groups. This can significantly expand your search radius
- Visit local shelters: Visit nearby animal shelters and rescues regularly. Sometimes, lost and found pets are brought to these facilities
- Don't give up: Keep searching, and don't lose hope. Lost pets can often find their way home, even after a few days or weeks.
- Tip when finding your lost pet: Greeting your pet positively when they return is an important part of behaviour training.
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Lost your pet in Fife? Know who to contact!
In Fife, and more broadly across the UK, several specific organisations can assist you with lost and found pets:
- Contact your local council: They often handle lost pets in your area.
- RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals): The RSPCA may be able to help if you've found an injured pet.
- Use online databases: Websites like "Pets Located" can help reunite lost pets with their owners.
Found a lost pet? Here's how you can help!
What to do if you find a stray animal
The relevant Local Authority (dog warden) is responsible for all stray or abandoned dogs. You can find the relevant guidance here.
Distinguishing between a stray cat and a feral one can pose a significant challenge. Feral cats reside outdoors, far from human contact, and remain undomesticated. A stray cat may look skinny or underweight, they are usually timid and shy and may come to you in time, whereas a feral cat is most likely to avoid coming up to you as hey tend to live in colonies. Typically, a stray cat will be found roaming around houses and people and even in your garden.
In the event of encountering a stray cat, your initial step should be to try and locate its owner. You can provide the cat with shelter and nourishment while making efforts to find its owner, but it is essential to have the cat checked for a microchip and search for lost and found listings online beforehand.
Stray cats can be brought to your local animal shelter or veterinary clinic for a microchip scan to retrieve information about their owner.
If you're worried about a stray cat's health, contact the following on their emergency numbers:
- RSPCA (England and Wales) 0300 1234 999
- USPCA (Northern Ireland) 028 3025 1000
- Scottish SCPA (Scotland) 03000 999 999
Identifying a lost pet in Fife
Discovering a lost pet on the street in Fife can be both concerning and challenging. Here are some steps to safely identify and assist a pet in need, along with a crucial warning about approaching unfamiliar animals:
- Approach cautiously: First and foremost, approach the animal with extreme caution. Keep in mind that the pet may be frightened, disoriented, or possibly injured. Make slow, non-threatening movements, and avoid sudden gestures or loud noises.
- Observe their behaviour: Before attempting to get closer, observe the pet's behaviour from a safe distance. If the animal appears aggressive, extremely fearful, or demonstrates any signs of illness or injury, it's crucial to prioritise your safety and not approach further.
- Check for identification: Carefully check for any visible identification, such as tags on a collar. If the pet is wearing a collar, take note of any contact information. However, be aware that unfamiliar animals may react unpredictably, so take great care when trying to examine their collar.
- Offer food and water: If the animal seems approachable and doesn't show aggressive behaviour, you can offer food and water to help gain their trust. Approach slowly and place the offerings near them without making any sudden movements. Keep in mind that a frightened pet may not immediately accept food or water.
- Call for assistance: If you can safely approach the animal and identify an address or phone number on their collar, contact the owner if possible. If the pet appears lost or in distress and you feel comfortable handling them, you can try to keep the pet safe until assistance arrives.
- Alert local authorities: If you are unable to approach the pet safely or the animal is clearly injured or in distress, contact your local council or animal rescue centre.
- Offer temporary care: If you feel comfortable with the pet, provide them with food, water, and shelter while searching for the owner. Ensure the pet is secure and safe.
- Never assume safety: While helping a lost pet can be a compassionate act, it's crucial to prioritise your safety and the safety of others. Unfamiliar animals, especially when scared or injured, may behave unpredictably. Approach with caution and avoid putting yourself at risk.
- Report a lost or found pet: Use tools such as Animal Search UK, and local groups and pages on social media to spread the word about a lost pet.
- Get their microchip scanned: Your local vet or animal shelter should be able to check the lost pet for a microchip, which they can scan to help identify and then contact the owner. This is why it’s important to microchip your pet and ensure their microchip details are up to date.
Remember that the safety of both the lost pet and the person who finds them is paramount. In some cases, it's best to let trained professionals handle the situation. Always exercise good judgment when assisting a pet on the street to ensure the well-being of all involved.
Preventative steps to avoid losing your pet
Here at St Clair Vets, our team have put together a list of our best tips for precautions you can take to help avoid losing your pets:
- Secure your garden: Ensure your garden or outdoor areas are escape-proof for dogs. Similarly, you should also regularly check for weak spots in your fences or gates. Consider whether your dog could get over, or even dig their way under.
- Securing your home for indoor cats: If you have an indoor cat, ensure that the doors and windows are always closed to avoid them escaping.
- Microchip your pet: Microchipping is a permanent form of identification. Ensure your contact information is up to date with the microchip provider. It is a legal requirement for dogs to have valid and up-to-date microchips to identify them if they ever become lost and found
- Use appropriate collars and tags: Make sure your pet wears a collar with an ID tag containing up-to-date contact information. Additionally, quick-release collars are recommended for cats to reduce risk of injury if the collar gets caught on something whilst they are exploring.
- Training and recall commands: Teach your pet recall commands to ensure they come when called if you want to enjoy time together outdoors without their lead.
- Leash and supervise: Unless you are confident in your dog’s recall ability, you should always leash your dog when outside and supervise them, especially in unfamiliar areas.
- Consider having them spayed or castrated: Having your pet neutered reduces the urge to roam and can prevent them from getting lost in the process.
How to make your pet more identifiable
By making your pet more identifiable, you increase your chances of a successful reunion. Lost and found pets without any form of identification can often be overlooked as stray pets, so it’s crucial to ensure that they have clear and up-to-date contact information on them. At St Clair Vets, our best recommendations on how you can make your pet more easily trackable and identifiable include:
- keeping a clear and up-to-date photo of your pet, which shows any unusual coat markings or features that are recognisable to your pet
- using a GPS collar for real-time tracking
- considering a reflective or glow-in-the-dark collar for night-time visibility
- considering colourful or unique collars and accessories for your pet - An animal in a rainbow collar or sparkly pink bandana is a lot more easily identified than one simply wearing a plain collar or none at all.
Contact St Clair Vets in Fife if you have a lost or found pet today
In times of lost and found pets, the pet-loving community can make a significant difference. By following the suggested steps and taking preventative measures, you can help reunite lost pets with their families and safeguard your own pets from similar ordeals. Together, we can create a safer and more compassionate environment for our beloved companions.
If you have any further questions or concerns, or believe that you have a lost and found pet, please contact St Clair Vets today.
St Clair Veterinary Group - Cos Lane Practice, Woodside:T: 01592 757 373 E: