Protect your pets before they go missing

Licensing, training, microchips help ensure happy return

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Pardon me for preaching about dog licenses again.

A license is the best defense against losing a dog, but there are other things pet owners can do in advance of losing a pet that unexpectedly bolts through the door.

During the holidays, many people will travel and plan to take their pets along. It's not uncommon for a dog or cat to get away in unfamiliar surroundings.

Can't happen, you say? Tell that to the people who call me each week trying to get help finding a lost pet. Unfortunately, it is a request I can't accommodate. Believe me; animals get lost every day. It isn't news.

These are my suggestions — things I do for my own animals — that I have learned after working with people who have lost their animals and those who work in rescue organizations that end up with them.

Try these tips

After licensing a dog, the second defense should always be to train the dog to return upon giving the command "come." It's not as hard as it sounds but as a dog parent, it is important to how to do it consistently and well.

Pet owners should attending a good training class in which they will both learn how to raise a great pet. It is well worth the effort.

Remember, consistency in training is the key until the animal is programmed to respond to the command.

There are also several other things pet owners can do in advance of traveling or even if a pet is lost near the home.

Pets should be microchipped, and pet parents should make sure the registration information is on file with the company. The information should be updated in cases of a move or a new phone number.

Keep current photos of pets from various angles. If an animal ends up at a shelter or rescue, the photos will be invaluable in reuniting a pet with its owner.

People should ask local animal rescue groups to keep a flier with the animal's photo and other identification information on file, so they can call if they suspect a lost pet has been turned in. Rescue groups don't want the hassle of giving a pet expensive medical attention to get it a new home if it already has one.

If the animal is wearing a license tag or has microchip with up-to-date information, shelter personnel will contact the pet's owner.