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Lost your pet?

Every year, over a quarter of a million cats and dogs go missing in the UK.

You have probably had more than one occasion when your pet "disappeared" and you weren't sure where it was. For many families and pet lovers, however, the outcome can be different.

Of course you will stand a far better chance of being re-united with your pet if it has a pet identification tag, which is a legal requirement in the UK.

Cats can be more problematic, because they like to "do their own thing" and spend up to 90% of their waking hours outside of their owners' properties. Some are known to wander up to 5 miles away on a single night. Additionally, cats do not like wearing collars and to get a cat used to a collar it should be introduced to them when they are a kitten, and they need to wear it constantly.

But what should you do if your pet goes missing?

If you are out and about, and the dog runs off and literally disappears from view, spend a short time looking for it. Best to get back home - particularly if your pet's tag gives a home phone number. Dogs are actually very good at finding their way (think of a police dog tracking someone) and many "lost" dogs turn up at home after their walk-about. Bear in mind that a dog will take full advantage of even a moment of freedom from its leash. Poorly trained dogs will not respond to discipline calls and will run off to explore.

In many cases, a dog is found by some stranger, who reads the tag and contacts the owner - and the two are re-united.

But what if a pet disappears for days?

Of course, one can put up notices on lamposts - but there have been cases where people have been fined by their local councils for posting unauthorised posters (ridiculous I know... but it can happen).

If your pet has been missing for more than 24 hours, it's time to contact organisations that have been set up to help track them down. Here is a list:-

Petlog Database

This is part of the work of the RSPCA involves reuniting owners with many of the 250,000 cats and dogs that go missing every year in the UK.

PetLog was launched in 1995 by The Kennel Club to help reunite stray and abandoned animals with their owners.

It is a microchip inserted under the skin of your pet's shoulder blades by a vet.

The microchip will store a number, unique to your pet. This number, along with your details, will be stored on a national PetLog database. Special microchip readers can decipher the data stored on the microchip, revealing the pet's owner details.

For more information about joining PetLog and getting your pet microchipped contact:

The Kennel Club
1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB
Telephone: 0844 463 3980. Fax: 020 7518 1028


Or the Scottish SPCA

Battersea Lost Dogs Line
Most dogs picked up within London and the M25 are taken to Battersea Dogs' Home.
Battersea Lost Dogs Line 0901 477 8477
4 Battersea Park Road, London SW8 4AA
The Line operates from 8am-8pm seven days a week. Calls are charged at 60p per minute.

National Canine Defence League
17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ
Tel: 0171 837 0006

National Pet Register
Thorpe Underwood Hall, Ouseburn, York YO5 9SZ
Tel: 0700 0800 123

24 Hour Information Line: 0800 0725 999

Petsearch UK
851 Old Lode Lane, Solihull, West Midlands B92 8JE
or Longhouse, 35 Church Lane, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 7EF
Tel. 0121 743 4133

RSPCA Headquarters, Wilberforce Way, Horsham, RH13 9RS
Tel: 0870 55 55 999 (24 hour national cruelty and advice line)

Scottish SPCA
Braehead Mains, 603 Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, EH4 6EA
Tel: 0131 339 0222

As well as registering your lost pet, contact your local dog warden, police, animal rescue centres and veterinary surgeries. Ask your postman and milkman to look out for your pet, as well as putting up posters in local shops and schools.