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From the moment you bring your pet home, they are a member of your family and you want to do everything you can to protect them from harm - including bringing them home safely if they get lost. Each year, 6-8 million pets are taken into U.S. animal shelters.

Dr. Linda Lord is a veterinarian who has done extensive research on reuniting lost pets and their families. She is one of the leading veterinarians who works on HomeAgain at Merck Animal Health.

"I'm proud to be a part of the network that helps with these efforts. As a pet owner, a veterinarian and someone who has worked in lost pet recovery for 13 years, I know that taking the right first steps is critical to finding your pet. But even with all my experience, I was a bit frantic when I lost my own dogs, Sally and Charlie, who ran away from my house in the country. Sally was missing for four days, and Charlie was missing for five. Luckily, we had support from HomeAgain and they both made it home safely. I was aggressive in my search and learned a lot about what strategies worked well and which ones aren't as effective."

Dr. Lord shares tips on the steps you can take to be proactive and help bring your pet home safely and quickly:

The pet microchip, recommended by veterinarians, is a simple, safe and affordable innovation, and it works. A pet microchip is a great start to helping to keep your pets safe and find them if they get lost.

It's important to point out that a microchip alone might not be enough: only registered microchips give lost pets the best chance of returning home. In a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, including 53 animal shelters across the U.S., only 58 percent of the animals' microchips had been registered in a database with their pet parent's contact information.

Without contact information, a microchip is significantly less effective. That's why the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association encourage pet owners to check their pet's microchip information annually and keep it up-to-date. By doing this yearly, you increase your pet's chances of returning home if they get lost!

Dog finder tips when your pet gets lost

  • Have your pet's microchip and/or I.D. number written and readily available.
  • Act immediately. If you are registered with HomeAgain, contact your Lost Pet Specialist.
  • Look close to home first. Pets like to roam, but are cautious about staying in familiar places. If your pet is missing for less than an hour, try places they are used to.
  • Look far from home. Lost pet alerts may be sent to an entire network of rescuers in your area, and are ready to help search for your pet.
  • Download pet finder apps on iTunes or Google Play to help track the status of your lost pet alert.
  • Make "lost pet" signs. Post these signs within at least a 10-mile radius.
  • Call local shelters and veterinarians. A lost pet's chip will be scanned at shelters and veterinarian offices, which can help bring your pets home to you.

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