NEGAUNEE - In the not-so-long-ago past, when a family pet went missing, owners would perhaps put flyers up on telephone poles, call the local animal shelter and notify the police.
And search in hopes of finding the lost animal.
Now, with social media becoming an everyday pursuit for many people, the opportunity to be reunited with a missing pet is much greater, said Lareina Van Strien, manager of the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter in Negaunee Township.
Lareina Van Strien, manager of the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter, holds Sage, a cat that came to UPAWS as a stray. Van Strien said there are many things a pet owner can do to help in the process of finding a lost animal. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"Lost & Found Paws (of the U.P., on Facebook) is a very proactive group, for example," Van Strien said. "They do a great job in getting the word out about animals who have gone missing.
"And I know on our own website, we put up a lost and found page in the last year and a half and it's created a huge increase in the number of animals going home to their families."
In offering some pointers to someone whose pet has gone missing, Van Strien had a starting point she emphasized.
"The first advice I'd give is prevention," she said. "You have to make sure your yard's safe and the line you might put your pet out on, even briefly, is safe. You should make sure the people in your neighborhood know your pet. It's a good idea to take your pet around and introduce it to your neighbors."
If an animal goes missing, getting the word out quickly is vital, Van Strien said.
"Use the social media sites, contact UPAWS or your local shelter, contact your local police," she said. "Call radio stations. Do what you can to get the word out there to help your search."
All of which points to another important factor: Having proper identification on your pet.
"The pet should wear a tag on its collar with all the up-to-date information, like your current address and more than one phone number as well," she said.
"And when the pet has been microchipped, often we're able to get it home the same day," Van Strien said. "A lot of times, the animal hasn't gone too far from home. Often, people will pick up a friendly stray and it will end up at the neighbor's house or at UPAWS."
Cats are more likely to stick closer to home, Van Strien said.
"There have been studies that cats are usually within about seven houses of home when they are lost," she said. "You have to be crafty in finding a missing cat. They may be scared and hiding in a garage, under a porch or in other spots. To find them, you might have to think like a cat."
Dogs, on the other hand, can cover more distance, Van Strien said.
"So you should keep in mind, especially if you live at the border of a county, to get the word to neighboring police agencies and animal shelters," she said.
To check out the lost and found section on UPAWS website, visit upaws.org/strays.php.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.