Hardly a day seems to pass these days without a missing pet post doing the rounds on social media. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. We wondered, though, whether there really are more pets on the loose or if this is a weird amplification of social media networks. We turned to the SPCA team to get their take:

It seems that we see more and more ‘missing’ dog and cat posts on social media these days. Why do you think that is?
In our opinion, there are more loose dogs now than in the past. There are more dogs on the Island now than ever, so an increase in loose dogs would make sense.

A large portion of the dogs seen on social media are pitbulls, most of which are illegally bred and therefore may not have the Restricted Breed Requirements in place, such as appropriate fencing.

Small dogs were always on the run back in the days as it was common for small dogs to just be let out for the day. That practice doesn’t seem to be the norm these days, but small dogs still escape from time to time.

Another factor that may be causing an uptake in loose dogs is the fact that we seem to be having worse and worse weather over the years: things like winter storms and periods of heavy rain. Increased intensity in the weather may be affecting more dogs with noise phobias.

It definitely seems more extreme now because of social media. The only way to know in the past was via radio announcements and flyers. Back in the day it was common to see dogs running loose in the neighbourhood – no one really worried about it because someone always knew who they belonged to. Definitely social media now makes it more widely known and quicker. It feels more extreme simply because it is now more visual.

How many pets do you think end up being found safely by their owners once they share their posts? Is this an efficient way of getting the word out?
Social media has been extremely beneficial in the reuniting pets with their owners here in Bermuda and the vast majority of pets are often safely returned to their owners because of the swiftness of social media. Animal Wardens will often be on their way to a call and be paged to say the owner has been reunited with their dog.

Any tips for finding a lost dog/cat or luring them home?
Some people believe in putting out blankets or other bedding that smells like the animal so it may find the scent and then come to the object for comfort. Litter boxes have been used, in the case of birds, their open cage with food and water has been suggested. And, of course, posting on social media!

What is the correct procedure to follow when you have lost a pet?
When you have lost a pet you should notify the veterinary clinics, the SPCA, and Animal Control. Posting on social media and the radio are also helpful. Any identifying markings, microchip numbers, license tag numbers etc should also be given at the time of the phone call.

Anything else you’d like the public to know?
The public should always exercise extreme caution when approaching an animal they do not know that is loose and/or injured. If a member of the public is not comfortable dealing with animals, calling and possibly following behind the animal slowly from a short distance would be helpful. Someone may post their dog is missing but is very sweet, while under normal circumstance this may be true, there is potential that under the stress of being lost, or possibly injured, the animal may not act like its normal sweet self and safety for all involved should be priority number one.

Find out more about the Bermuda SPCA and all of the amazing work they do in the community at www.spca.bm.