A dog or cat wandering off is a pet parent's biggest fear. But are owners doing everything they can to protect their four-legged friends from becoming lost?
In 2012, the ASPCA published the first national study about lost pets. It was based on responses from 1,015 households, with at least one or more cat or dog.
According to the survey, 14 percent of owners had lost dogs and 15 percent had lost cats. The ASPCA noted that the total percentage of lost pets revealed by the survey was lower than what it previously suspected. But, the results did show that a very low percentage of those pet owners were reunited with their pets.
According to the ASPCA, only 6 percent of dog owners and 2 percent of cat owners bring their pets back home after they end up in a shelter.
"This research tells us that there is a possibility that a significant percentage of the stray dogs and cats in the shelters around the country do not have someone looking for them," said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the ASPCA, in a news release. "It also highlights the importance of I.D. tags and other forms of identification to ensure the quick return of lost pets."
Of the dog owners that were reunited with their lost pets, 15 percent found Fido thanks to an I.D. tag or microchip.
The ASPCA released what is its most current survey on lost pets to serve as a guide for pet parents who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
The animal welfare organization recommends microchipping all pets as an important way to increase odds of recovering them. Its website promotes microchipping with an "It's 10:00 a.m. Do you know where your pet is?" video informing owners that most runaway pets will spend the rest of their lives in a shelter.
But what if you were able to know where your pet was 24/7, even if he wandered off? Dog owners may never have to worry about the whereabouts of their curious pets again thanks to new animal monitoring devices.
"When we learned that 25 million pets have gone missing, we had to do something about it," Gibi says in a promotional video for its GPS-enabled tracking device that provides owners with their pets' locations whenever they may need it.
When Gibi is attached to a collar and connected to a smart phone, parents are able to set up "safe zones" by creating virtual fences on the phone's map. The device sends automatic alerts, via text or email, to notify the owner if the pup has roamed outside of desired boundaries. Owners can also view a dog's location at any time by opening the Gibi map.
"Pet GPS location services, like Gibi, are a fairly new industry and product awareness is poor," said ?Synette Tom, co-founder of Gibi?. "Less than 0.25 percent of U.S. household pets have one."
Like the ASPCA, Gibi encourages owners to have their pets microchipped, but also suggests using a GPS device as an extra precaution.
"Statistically 1 in 3 [dogs] go missing," ?Tom? said. "We look forward to helping change that statistic, because we love our pets and know how people love their pets. It is just an awful feeling to lose your best friend."
The lightweight, waterproof tracking device can be purchased at Walmart, Amazon and GetGibi.com.