Not much is scarier for a pet owner than the realization that a beloved pet is missing. But what happens when a new pet gets lost before even having the chance to become part of the family? One Portland couple experienced this nightmare when their newly adopted cat got loose and went missing before she even made it through the door of their home.
Steve and Cynthia Kostove met and fell in love with Lily, a 3-year-old Persian mix cat, on June 25. They adopted her from the Cat Adoption Team (CAT) in Sherwood, Ore., that same day, and the couple was excited to take her home.
The Kostoves were planning a nice night getting to know their new cat. They couldn’t have imagined what happened instead.
While Lily was being moved from the car to their house, the latch on her carrier door came loose. Anxious from the car ride, Lily jumped out of the carrier and ran off into the neighborhood.
After spending some time searching for Lily, Cynthia called CAT for advice. Having only had Lily for a few hours, the couple didn’t even have a photo of her to create “lost pet” posters. The shelter staff helped to ensure that Lily’s microchip information was up-to-date with Steve and Cynthia’s information. They also shared additional tips—such as contacting local animal control agencies, posting lost cat ads online, and putting out tasty food in a humane trap in the hopes that Lily would be found.
Using a photo of Lily that a shelter staff member had taken, the Kostoves put up flyers in their neighborhood. “We’re very lucky to live in a neighborhood of animal lovers who were all very supportive while Lily was lost,” said Cynthia. Despite these efforts, nearly a month went by with no sign of the missing cat.
Then, at around 10:30 p.m. on July 23, a Facebook post went up that read: “This cat is wondering around my neighborhood. Very sweet. Clearly belongs to someone. Female, white and orange Persian. Very petite. Hungry and thirsty! She is spending the night with me because even though I know she must have a home I cannot bear to leave her outside. Neighbor saw her yesterday and asked if she was ours. Will get her scanned for a [micro]chip tomorrow.”
The cat in the photos that accompanied the post looked familiar to a few people. Several CAT staff members messaged the author, Dawn Rossiter, a former CAT employee and current volunteer, to tell her it might be Lily. In the meantime, Dawn saw a lost pet report on the Multnomah County Animal Services website that matched the cat she had found—this was definitely Lily!
Using the contact information from the lost pet report, Dawn reached out to the Kostoves. The couple was shocked, surprised, and grateful.
“Dawn deserves major thanks since she was the one who found Lily and got in touch with us,” said Cynthia. “Lily’s homecoming is like a miracle that I never thought would happen.”
Lily is one of the lucky ones. Each year, thousands of pets go missing across the country. Sadly, only a small percent ever get back home. However, there are ways to help protect your pet from becoming a statistic.
Be Prepared If Your Pet Goes Missing
You can reduce panic and hopefully avoid heartache if you are prepared in the event that your pet becomes lost. Here are four things you can do right now to help protect your pet:
1. Microchip your pet. If you aren’t sure if your pet has been microchipped, take him/her to a local animal shelter or veterinary clinic for a quick microchip scan. If your pet isn’t microchipped, make an appointment to have this done. CAT offers microchipping for owned cats at the time of spay/neuter surgery, and most local veterinary clinics and other shelters offer microchipping options as well.
2. Update the contact information on your pet’s microchip. A microchip is only as good as the contact information listed with it. Connect with your microchip registry to ensure that your contact information is current. If you move or if you take your pet with you to a winter/summer home, be sure to update your contact information with the microchip registry.
3. Identify your pet with a collar and tag. A visible ID tag is your first defense. Without proper ID, someone may think your pet is a stray and take him/her in as their own without first checking to see if he/she has a current owner. An ID tag with your contact information provides a quick and easy way for a finder to reach out to you.
4. Take photo of your pet. In the event that your pet does go missing, a recent photo that shows your pet’s face and body will be useful for creating printed lost pet flyers and posting online lost pet reports.
CAT’s website offers additional advice for tracking down a lost/found pet. For more information, visit: catadoptionteam.org/resources/lost-found-help.
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