What Are The Odds of Finding a Missing Pet
Shawn Dienhart, March 2019
There are so many variables to finding, then recovering a lost pet. The environment makes a huge difference, urban, rural, or wilderness. Then the circumstances surrounding the pets disappearance, did it simply escape a fenced yard, jump out of the car while away from home, scared by fireworks, or maybe stolen. Has the pet been in the household a long or short time, is its normally calm or adventurous, or perhaps it likes to chase other animals or cars. The list is nearly endless.
The fact is, the better prepared you are, the greater the odds of finding a lost pet regardless of circumstances.
Some organizations have attempted to sugar coat the issue by conducting surveys showing the odds are really in your favor for finding a lost pet. Sadly these surveys are skewed and generally relate to pets that make a temporary get away from home under favorable circumstances.
For example, according to an ASPCA study in 2102, only 15 percent [of US households] had lost a dog or a cat in the past five years. The study also claims that 85 percent of those lost dogs and cats were recovered.
While this appears to be good news, the "study" numbers were statistically insignificant given the population of domestic dogs and cats in the USA. The ASPCA only sampled 1,015 households that happened to pick up their phone for the survey. The extremely small sample number is dwarfed by the huge population of dogs (for example), making the survey flawed.
Statistically, a sample of 5% or more of households with pets must be surveyed to provide an accurate assessment. Contrary to well known statistical math, the ASPCA only sampled 0.00182% of households.
(According to the ASPCA about 44% of U.S. households have one or more pets. The Census Bureau counted 126.22 million households in 2017 which means 55.5 million households have pet(s). Thus 1,015 is 0.00182% of 55.5 million.)
All the fancy stats aside, any pet owner knows that animal shelters are full of lost pets, social media is overloaded with lost pet posts, and lost pet databases (e.g. Pet Harbor) have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lost pet listings in their databases.
In other words, the realization is there are untold numbers of lost pets in the US with a fairly high number of those pets that never make it home.