GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The American Humane Society reports one in three pets will become lost at some point during its life.
Back in the day, when you lost your pet, your only real option was to print out some fliers and post them in the neighborhood.
Nowadays there are literally hundreds of apps, services, websites, products and companies that will gladly take your money to help you out.
But these days, do you really need to spend money to find your missing pet?
Brittian Bush is going completely free to track down her missing foster dog, Juan.
She says Juan climbed on top of a snowbank and jumped over the back fence nearly two months ago.
“He just took off running,” Bush says.
Over the years Bush has fostered close to 200 dogs. She says only one other dog besides Juan has gone missing over that time.
That dog was found within a few days thanks to “old school” tricks, like fliers in the neighborhood.
“I just stuck with the basics,” Bush says. “I think just sticking with the microchip, the collar and the tag works well.”
The internet is filled with newer and “flashier” options that boast higher success rates than traditional methods.
Sites like FindToto.com and PetAmberAlert.com will warn neighbors with texts and messages when a pet goes missing in the area, but according to their websites, the service can cost between $50 and $300.
Other companies offer GPS tracking for your pet, but they often come with a monthly fee.
A cheaper option is Pawscout, which advertises a GPS-enabled dog tag for a flat fee of $19.95.
At the Animal Humane Society they’ve even heard of facial recognition software to find missing pets.
“We’ve seen a lot of great ideas, but technology is only great when it works,” Animal Humane Society spokesman Zach Nugent says.
At the shelter they see plenty of lost pets, but Nugent says the classic methods are still the most effective.
“If a dog tag has an updated number on it, anyone who finds that dog or cat can look at the tag, find the phone number, and can give it a call,” Nugent explains.
Microchips are also a cheap way to protect your pet.
At the shelter they charge $30, but Nugent says many of the strays they see have chips with out-of-date information.
“You need to contact the individual microchip company and keep your contact information up to date,” Nugent explains.
The Animal Humane Society also has a lost pet section on its website that owners can use free of charge.
Nugent says the Nextdoor app is also a great free tool people can use.
Local groups like Lost Dogs Minnesota and Lost Cats Minnesota each have Facebook pages owners can use, too.
“There are so many dog lovers in Minnesota who are willing to help,” Bush says.
Bush herself is working with The Retrievers out of St. Paul to help her find Juan.
She says the nonprofit group will help owners make fliers and postings online when they lose a pet.
The group will even set up humane traps whenever a lost dog or cat is spotted in a neighborhood.
While many of the paid options are effective, pet experts say often times the free options are just as good.
Whether paid or free, though, they say nothing is guaranteed.
They encourage owners to do their research and to not let emotions get in the way of making smart decisions.
For more information on finding a missing pet, visit Lost Dogs of America.