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Searching Nearby Best Strategy for Finding Lost Pets, Study Says


The keys to finding a lost pet include searching within one’s neighborhood, putting up posters, using the Internet and checking local shelters, according to a survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Finding a lost dog

The ASPCA interviewed more than 1,000 pet-owning households to find out if they lost a dog or cat in the past five years, and if they did, whether or not they found the pet and where they looked.

Among those surveyed:

  • 15 percent had lost a dog or cat in the past five years;
  • 14 percent of dog owners lost their dog in the past five years;
  • 15 percent of cat owners lost their cat in the past five years;
  • 85 percent of those lost dogs and cats were recovered;
  • 74 percent of lost cats were recovered;
  • 93 percent of lost dogs were recovered;
  • 49 percent of dog owners found their dog by searching the neighborhood;
  • 15 percent of dogs were recovered because they were wearing an ID tag or had a microchip;
  • 30 percent found their cat by searching the neighborhood;
  • 59 percent of cat guardians found their cat because it returned home on its own;
  • 6 percent of dog guardians found their lost pets at a shelter; and
  •  2 percent of cat guardians found their lost pets at a shelter.

“This research tells us that there is a possibility that a significant percentage of the stray dogs and cats in the shelters around the country do not have someone looking for them,” said Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the ASPCA. “It also highlights the importance of ID tags and other forms of identification to ensure the quick return of lost pets.”

The ASPCA conducted the interviews for the study between September and November 2010 and published the results in the June 2012 issue of the journal Animals.

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