Why your new pet might try to escape

We really cannot emphasise this enough: newly adopted animals may try to get out of their new home in the first few days. This does not mean that you have adopted an ‘escape artist’ or a ‘bad dog/cat’, or that they don’t like you. Not all newly adopted pets WILL try to run away – this is just a possibility to be aware of so that you can take precautions to prevent it from happening. 

If a newly adopted animal escapes and runs off, the problem is that they don’t know you or us well enough for them to be easy to catch. They also don’t know their surroundings, which means that they can easily get lost  and never be found again. Please be sensible and ensure that you keep your new pet safe inside!

Here’s why it happens:

  • If you are nervous or afraid, anything familiar seems safe. If there’s nothing familiar, the unknown is as appealing as staying in a place you know nothing about.

  • They do not know they are adopted.

  • They do not know you are their new family.

  • They do not know where the boundaries of their property are.

Put yourself in their paws. Wouldn’t you be bewildered? How would you know: here is where ‘my’ home ends and I may not go further? How would you know: I am supposed to stay here; this is my new home now?

Remember that many of these animals have had several homes – their original home, the shelter or foster home (sometimes they’ve moved between a few foster homes!) and then yours. Imagine how confusing this can be. Some animals may try to find their original home, which could be very far away or in a dangerous area, so they could be hurt or killed trying to get there. Work on making yourself and your home the familiar things that they feel safe around. 

So, please, be aware, be prepared, and give them a chance.

What can you do?

Before you bring them home, secure the property. Look at it from their viewpoint. Can they burrow under the fence? Are there bricks or chairs they could climb on to get over a wall? Any gaps in the fencing? Does your electric gate shut quickly enough that they won’t slip out? Cats should be shut in the house for at least 2 weeks, not allowed to roam free from the start.

Put a collar and tag on them from the beginning and, if you have to, keep them inside the house and only take them outside into the yard in your presence. (Note: all FAWbies adopted from Jan 2016 are microchipped. If you adopted prior to this, please contact us for assistance.)

We recommend taking a couple of days off to settle new dogs in – don’t just dump them in the yard and go. Remember that the animal doesn’t have a clue what is going on and is looking to YOU for guidance.

Show them around the house and property. Start taking them out for walks so they can familiarise themselves with their surroundings and the concept of ‘on lead outside the property, off lead inside’. This helps them learn where their space begins and ends.

What to do if your new FAWbie does get out?

The minute you discover your new FAW pet is missing, please contact FAW immediately so that we can assist; we can also put a ‘lost dog alert’ on their microchip.

Contact all the vets in the area as well as the SPCA, Animal Anti-Cruelty League, etc. You will be surprised at how far afield strays can be picked up. (See numbers below.)

Photo. Ensure that you have a recent photo – and take your phone with you with the picture on it, or a print out, so you can show people.

Walk around the blocks near your house (take strong-smelling treats like biltong with you) – they may be in a neighbour’s garden, a nearby park, or simply wondering around just around the corner. Ask any passersby if they have seen your dog and go to your neighbours to ask if they’ve taken them in.

Social media. There are several lost/found Facebook pages where you can post your missing pet. If you’re not active on Facebook, please let us know so that we can assist. 

Neighbourhood groups. Most neighbourhoods have WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Ask them to share and keep a look out. 

Security companies. If there are security companies in yrou area, ask them if they have seen the animal. They are usually driving around 24-7 and, in many missing pet cases, it is the security companies that have been instrumental in reuniting pets with owners. 

No chasing. If you spot your new pet, unless they’re very relaxed in your company already, do NOT chase them! This may cause them to bolt as they’re bewildered or they think it’s a game. Rather sit down if possible and softly call them, preferably with a treat in your hand.

Posters. If, after 24 hours, you still haven’t found the animal, you need to make flyers with their photo on it and hand them out and post at vets, noticeboards, on lamp posts, etc.

Remember to take down all flyers, posters, etc. and update your social media posts once you’ve found the animal.

Important contacts

FAW: 078 892 7892 / info@faw.za.org

  • Cape of Good Hope SPCA: 021 700 4140 ext 4
  • AACL Epping 2: 021 534 6426
  • AACL Bellville South: 021 951 3010
  • Animal Welfare Society Philippi: 021 692 2626

Vets (check the vets in your vicinity too if you adopted in other areas)

  • Tygerberg Animal Hospital Bellville – 1 Kontiki Avenue, Glen Ive, near Stodels –  021 919 1191
  • Durbanville Animal Hospital – cnr Plein and Durban Roads, Durbanville – 021 976 3031
  • Goedemoed Animal Hospital – Lubbe Street, Durbanville – 021 975 6385
  • Brackenfell Animal Clinic – Brackenfell Medical Centre, Old Paarl road, Brackenfell – 021 981 3811
  • Panorama Veterinary Clinic – 1 Uys Krige Drive, Panorama –  021 930-6632
  • Cape Animal Medical Centre – 78 Rosmead Avenue, Kenilworth –  021 674 0034
  • Belmont Road Veterinary Clinic – 16 Belmont Road, Rondebosch – 021 685 7750

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