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Four Legged Escape Artists


You are in a rush, racing to work or an appointment and your four-legged family member is out the door before you are ….but you did not plan to take them with you.  It is a common problem. 


Lilly, my thirteen-year-old Maltese is faster than a speeding bullet when she does not want to be left alone at home or in the office.  It seems to happen most often when my arms are full and I am running late.


Recently, a friend asked me to check in on her cat, Marmaduke while she was away.  Her biggest worry was that the cat would get out of the house during my visits.  She repeated her concern so many times, I was afraid to accept responsibility for “The Duke.”


In an ideal world, our pets would be so well trained that just saying “stay,” would do the trick. If that were the case, I doubt you would be reading this article right now.


If you are a pet sitter or dog walker, having your charge escape is one of your worst nightmares.


You know the expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Here are some prevention and recovery tips for canine and feline escape artists:


  • Try to preoccupy your pet with a toy or treat just as you are leaving. That worked for “The Duke”. Unfortunately, it does not work for Lilly when she is determined to accompany me, so I rely on the next suggestion.
  • If you do not have a separate room or area for your pet, create a barrier, preferably not near the doorway…use a pet gate that you can step over or close quickly as you are exiting. There are so many stylish ones now to work with all different home decors.  A pet barrier or dog gate will prevent a small dog from escaping and make it harder for a larger dog or cat to break out quickly.  If necessary, place the gate at the doorway, taking care that it cannot fall on a small pet.  This is what I have resorted to with Lilly.
  • Make sure your pet is micro chipped and has a pet ID tag attached to a collar or harness.
  • Have several good photos of your pet, taken from different angles and stored where you can find them quickly on your computer or phone.
  • If you have left your pet in someone else’s care, make sure they have your contact information and instruct them to notify you immediately if anything happens.  

If they do get out…

  • Do not chase them; they can probably outrun you by miles and many will think it is a game. Instead, drop to your knees and coax them back with whatever works. Bribe them with their favorite toy or treat if you have to; or open a car door.  The car door trick always worked with Chauncey, my family’s Golden Retriever.
  • If you lose sight of the pet, start driving and looking for him immediately.
  • After a few hours, print up flyers with your pet’s name, full body photos and a detailed description, post them and pass them out to area businesses to display.
  • Contact the local Animal Control office, because they may have additional suggestions. In the event they find your pet before you do, at least they will know the owner is looking for him and it might save him from a trip to the pound.
  • Check to see if there is a pet detective service in your area. They use trained dogs to search for other pets. List your pet and photos online with Lost Pet registries.
  • Check and re-check animal shelters in your area. Make sure they have copies of your Lost Pet flyers.