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Dr. Jerry Allen is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville (Go Golden Eagles! ...

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Ruminations of a Valley Vet

Blogging by Dr. Jerry Allen, DVM
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Finding the Lost

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I find it very interesting when reading The Bible that there are two famous parables related to the same subject: that of something that was of value that was lost and then found.

  1. The first is a shepherd watching over 100 sheep. During his daily count, one comes up missing. Not satisfied with having 99, the concerned shepherd dropped everything and went in search of his lost sheep.

  2. The second parable is a housewife who loses a coin, which at the time would have been extremely valuable. Even though she had a roof over her head, and food to eat, she wasn’t content missing the coin so she lit a lamp and swept the floor until she found the lost coin. 

What did both of these people do when what they had lost was found? They called to their neighbors to come and join in a celebration that the one that was lost was found.

These parables are used in many sermons to illustrate the love of God towards his flock and how joyous it is when one lost is found.

So let’s apply this idea to our animal world. Those who have pets or livestock have deep emotional attachments to them. When you are taking care of these animals every day, seeing to their basic needs, it is a natural thing to develop affection for these creatures. And, this sense of caring and responsibility grows every day.

When a dog runs off, a cat escapes through an open window, or a horse jumps a fence; your first reaction is often panic and fear. Rarely have I ever seen an owner shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well.” Instead, we (and I say ‘we’ because I have a lot of pets too) drop everything and go looking for the lost critter!

Dealing with the escaped and lost animal is difficult. But if proper measures are taken, you can increase your odds that you'll find your lost one and hopefully prevent it's loss again.

The first measure of prevention is due diligence.

Make sure windows and doors are shut.

A fenced in yard can prevent tragedy but may be expensive. The invisible fencing systems are awesome if you are willing to train your animals. Being sure the animals do not exit the house except on a leash.

Please do NOT just open the door and let them loose in the neighborhood. They may get lost, or the neighbors may make SURE they get lost, or they can find real trouble such as getting hit by a car.

The second measure of prevention is knowledge.

Ok, we've fenced, we leash walk and lo’ and behold the little bugger gets away despite our due diligence. What should we do?

What To Do About Your Cat(s)

Felines who live strictly indoors will not usually go far but will try to find a hiding place because they typically will suffer from agoraphobia (fear of wide open spaces) and this phobia will keep them close to your home where they can find comfort. Often setting the litter box (uncleaned) outside will lure the cat back with the familiar scent leading to the door. Setting out food and water works sometimes too but be sure it doesn't attract raccoons, possums, etc to the door which would make for a much worse situation for your cat and for you.

What To Do About Your Dog(s)

Dogs as a group are much more difficult to predict, particularly intact males. They will often roam very far in pursuit of the not so elusive female in heat. Once they are out of their familiar territory, all bets are off about their finding their way home. So neutering is VERY important. Putting out flyers can be helpful, but of course ALWAYS have permission to distribute them and be environmentally smart about their use. Don't post them on trees and be aware that you can be held responsible for littering.

Microchipping

It is smart to have all pets microchipped. That small piece of plastic with a pet's name and address and unique identification code can be a lifesaver. If your pet is microchipped, give the ID number when you contact your local humane societies, rescue shelters or the pound. Also alert them to your missing pet by description. It's possible they already have them in custody.

Don't give up hope. We all see cases on the news of pets lost for even years finally returning home or being found. And when they are back where they belong, Celebrate!

Have an awesome day!

Dr. Jerry Allen, DVM

Avoid "The Look"
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