Dog-gone it! What to do if your dog and other pets get out

Generic puppy, dog
Posted at 7:08 AM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 08:42:16-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - 1,600. The number of times Virginia Beach Animal Control officers have responded to calls about stray animals this year.

Over half of those calls are for dogs.

Animal Enforcement Unit Supervisor Meghan Conti says those calls will likely pick up for the next six months or so.

"We hit our busy season kind of the middle of this month," she said. "The weather plays a big factor in it."

Conti says people tend to bring their animals outside more often during the warmer months and sometimes they can get bored or spooked and escape.

Last year was particularly busy, Conti tells News 3, with over 7,000 calls for service.

With April 23 being National Lost Dog Awareness Day she says getting in touch with animal control is a great first step if your pup goes missing or if you come in contact with a stray dog.

"[Virginia] law requires that they report finding a stray animal with us so we can make sure that that animal gets back to its rightful owner," she said. "When you come (to Virginia Beach Animal Control) to look for your pet, bring proof of ownership. Bring your vet paperwork, bring photos."

Keeping a collar and tag on your pets is crucial, Conti says, along with getting them microchipped so animal control officers can scan them for information.

It's important that the information is up-to-date.

"We live in a very transient area because of the military, so people move, they don't update that information and then we end up calling their previous number in California," she said. "Make sure that information is updated with your microchip company, with your tag, with your vet and so forth."

One aspect of summer that can lead to lost pets is a higher frequency of sudden, loud noises, whether it be through summer storms or fireworks, that can spook animals causing them to run off.

News 3 Chief Meteorologist and dog owner of three Patrick Rockey says his dachshund, Blue, is one of those dogs. The treatment? Making him feel safe.

"We talk about thundershirts and just any tight clothing or under a blanket. That seems to help him quite a bit," he said. "I think the key there is kind of the swaddling thing, the same thing you get with kids that makes them feel safe."

He says for smaller dogs who have an easier time slipping out of collars, harnesses can be a good alternative.

Patrick also says if you have an animal that spooks easy, it's important to monitor the weather so you can get your pet prepared if a storm appears while you're out of the house.

"We can get thunderstorms any time, but we get a peak in the spring and then we get a big peak in the summer," he said. "You can do some things to make them more comfortable if you're away during the thunderstorms."

If you find a stray animal and live in Virginia Beach, Conti says to call 385-5000. Animal control officers work from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

To search for or reclaim a lost pet:

The shelter, Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center, located at 341 S. Birdneck Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, phone is 757-385-4444.

Hours for looking for lost pets are :
Sunday: 10 AM to 3 PM
Monday 11 AM to 6 PM
Tuesday 11 AM to 3 PM (for lost pets only)
Wednesday 11 AM to 6 PM
Thursday 12 PM to 7 PM
Friday 11 AM to 6 PM
Saturday 10 AM to 3 PM