Lost Pets

I figured I'd get my mind off of things and turn my current problem into a blog post that might help other pet owners.  Yesterday morning my cat, Sammy, slipped out the door while my fiance was going out.  He pawed to get back inside and he noticed him, but when my fiance went to open the door and let him back inside, he bolted.

We immediately combed the apartment complex, calling for him, looking under cars and thoroughly searching the woods around the ditch next to our place.  So far he hasn't come back, and we haven't seen any sign of him.

In any case, here are some tips for panicked pet owners whose friends have run away or gotten lost:
  • First and foremost, search.  Look everywhere.  Get on your bike or in your car and slowly search outward in as big of a radius as you can.  The faster you start searching, the better chance you may have.  You might find them before you ever have to try anything else!  You should also continue to actively search each day and sometimes at night - cats particularly prefer to hide out during the sunlight hours.
  • Your second step should be to ask neighbors or people nearby to where the pet went missing.  Someone may have seen the animal leave or noted what direction it went, and been unable to let you know, or not know to whom it belonged.
  • Next, call your local animal shelters, including the county shelter/pound, and local vets.  Let them know your animal is missing and make a lost report with them if possible.  This way, if anyone brings in your pet, they know immediately who to call and that you know they are missing.
  • CHECK the shelter daily until your pet is found.  Nothing is more heartbreaking than discovering your pet was found but rehomed, or worse, put down.
  • Do not take chances with discriminated breeds.  If you keep a breed that is considered dangerous, risky, illegal, or is just looked down upon by the city in which you live - insist that you see all areas of animals held in the shelter.  Most of the people who work at shelters are good people, but it's up to you to do everything you can, especially if your pet is discriminated against locally.
  • As soon as you can, make signs or flyers that include the following information:  A big heading that reads either Lost or Reward, a color photo of the animal, a short description with any important details (color, gender, temperament, any needed medications, fixed or in tact - if you need to leave some finer details for ID purposes you can but don't leave out anything crucial), the area they went missing from, and contact information.  Post them at intersections within a 2-mile radius, especially in your area, and at nearby gas stations, general stores, and anywhere with a bulletin board.  Pass them out to mail carriers and delivery services, too.
  • Post online - try craigslist's lost and found section, and any local websites you may have for your area.  Include a picture, but be careful what information you release online.
  • Call or email the newspaper - Post an ad with them for your pet.  Some newspapers will do so for a short time free of charge.
  • Expand your search outside of your area to surrounding areas.  Sometimes pets are picked up and taken to hospitals in different places.
  • Leave things with familiar smells outside.  A litter box, a favorite bed, or even a bowl of food may help draw your pet home (and sometimes other animals - putting out food depends on your area, be careful!).
  • After a bit, check with animal control or the dept. of transportation, in case anyone has reported hitting an animal with a car.  This doesn't always mean it's fatal - sometimes ER pet hospitals will receive HBC pets and not know who to notify.  This is another reason to call as many vets as you can.
  • Last but not least - don't give up hope.  It may take a few days or it may take months.  People have found their animals quite a long time after losing them.  Have faith and use your resources.

Things you can do before your pet goes missing to help things go more smoothly if something goes wrong:
  • Keep your pet up to date on all vaccines and health procedures, and know the location of any rabies and county tags (past ones, or if you have a cat or ferret that does not regularly wear registration tags), veterinary receipts, and paperwork.  This may make picking up your animal from any shelters, or proving that the animal belongs to you, much cheaper and easier.
  • Have your pet microchipped.  I know some people are against this, but it's just done with a shot and it means your pet has less of a chance of being misidentified or taken in by a new family who thought they were a stray or could not find you.  Most if not all vets and the majority of shelters (especially county shelters/pounds) have scanners, and they scan for FREE to see if there is a chip.  The chip gives the scanner an ID code which matches a plastic tag given to you when the pet is microchipped.  The code is specific to a vet office, which was distributed the tags (at least in our case) from the county shelter, so either place can quickly track down the owner and try harder to reunite you with your pet.
  • If your pet can wear a collar safely, it's a good idea.  We've found pets several times wearing their collars, which made returning them a single, simple phone call, instead of a multiple day mess.  If your pet regularly removes the collar, or gets teeth or claws stuck in it, it is not a good idea to force them.  If they get out, then lose the collar somewhere in the city - you lose a bit of the proof that can help make identifying the pet as yours easier.
  • Make sure your vet has your current address and phone number.
All this talking and I still don't feel any better.  The only thing you can do is be prepared, and don't lose hope.

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

Rabies - Why Bats?

I recently began working on my 2 year vet tech degree, so I've been learning quite a bit of interesting stuff!  Don't worry - it's not going to become a totally medical blog, heh.  At least, not right now!  :p

Something I found particularly interesting, though, (and that's Halloween-appropriate!) was the answer to a question that's bugged me since I was a kid:


I always liked bats.  They don't seem like the villains people make them out to be, but I've never been bold enough to test that theory.  I can personally vouch that their presence near one's dwelling seriously decreases the number of mosquitoes on one's porch.  They work better than citronella candles, and they don't smell anywhere near as bad.

So why are we so often warned to reduce the bat population, to keep them away from our homes, yada yada yada?  Why is it that the first animal that comes to mind as associated with rabies is the furry little bat?

It's simple, really.  The reason I think we're most afraid of bats as rabies carriers is that a bite from a bat can very easily go unnoticed.  Most of the time, when a bat lands on a person and bites, they aren't even aware they were bitten at all.  If there are bats in your house, it's possible to be bitten in your sleep, or when intoxicated, without even noticing.  For this reason, we're a bit more careful around bats.

There are of course other reasons we make the association.  Although cats are the most likely domestic animal to become infected with rabies, bats have been involved in most transmission to humans.  I think what really spooks people the most, though, is that little bit about not being aware you've been nommed.  They're just so small - it's easy to miss.

Nifty facts about rabies:
  • Any mammal can get rabies, but small rodents such as mice have never been observed with the infection.
  • Birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other non-mammalian animals can NOT carry, transmit, or become infected with rabies.
  • The virus is shed in the saliva, but only intermittently.  Because of this, the brain must be tested, because the saliva may not be excreting virus when tested even if it was when a bite was delivered.
  • Different animals have different periods of time before they show symptoms, and exhibit different behaviors as a response to the virus as well.  Since not all animals are documented as thoroughly as domestic animals, some must be euthanized and tested rather than quarantined to determine if they were rabid (to figure out if a bitten person requires a postexposure treatment).
  • Risks are different in different countries - if you're traveling with your pet, make sure they have been vaccinated well beforehand.
  • If your pet has been bitten by another animal that might be rabid and is up to date on their shots, they still need to be revaccinated immediately and watched closely.  Go straight to your vet and let them know, as this knowledge helps determine local risks, and they can help you observe your furry friend and treat the bite.  If they are not up to date on shots, ask your vet to counsel you on what to do to ensure risks are kept minimal.
  • Here's an interesting link to the CDC's page on how Rabies can be transmitted.
Poor bats.  They're just doin' their batty thing, eating bugs, flyin' around.  They need the love.

Just NOT the close-up, touchy kind.  ;)

See you 'round!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~