Losing a dog or cat can be stressful and traumatic, rendering the pet owner ragged with emotion after many days of searching and hoping. Though you may be praying every day to get that “I found your pet” phone call, be shrewd in how you deal with people and have a plan in advance about how to weed out the authentic calls from the false alarms. Remember that not everyone in the world has good intentions, and that advertising a contact number on a poster for a vulnerable person, could potentially also put you in danger. Learn how to navigate properly so that you can safely retrieve your pet.
Tips and Precautions
- Be cautious: There are con-artists who want to scam people to make money, and there are teenagers who have nothing better to do than make mean prank calls. Stay hopeful, but don’t be taken in or discouraged by people who may be looking to hurt you.
- Make a plan: If someone claims to have your dog, think of a very specific feature that your dog does NOT have (such as a red spot on her front left foot, and a black spot on her right one), then ask if they have it. If the person says yes, then hang up immediately since they are obviously lying and could be dangerous.
- Look out for blackmail: Some pet finders have tried to weasel more money out of the pet-owners for the dog or cat’s “safe” return. If you sense anything such as blackmail or a threat, agree to meet them in a public place. If you are worried about the nature of their blackmailing, or if you feel threatened, unsafe, bullied or badgered for more money, notify the police and have them accompany you, staying hidden until the pet is brought out. (If the blackmailer sees police nearby, he might guess what has happened, and decide to leave and not meet you at all.) The police can oversee that neither you nor the pet are harmed or pressured.
- Meet in a public place: The world is full of wicked people who prey on the bereaved and the vulnerable. The pet finder might try to lure your to his home by saying something like “It looks like your dog may have gotten hit and is too unstable to move” to try and get to go to their house. No matter how sweet or innocent they sound (that sweet old lady might be a hire fronting for a criminal).
- Pay the reward. Some cat or dog owners feel indignant with the way their pets are returned to them, and can be tempted to go back on their word about giving the person the reward. When you have already committed to paying, do not fail to do so even if you think the person may not deserve it. If you have had your dog returned, you owe them that money.
Finally, be safe! You don’t want a missing dog to turn into a missing person scenario! UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you meet the pet finder privately or in their home. An honorable person will agree to meet you in a public place, even at their own inconvenience. Though you love your animal and just want him back again, remember that losing your pet is not to be compared with losing your life.