Occasionally I write about a topic dear to my heart. This is one of those times.

As Beaufort and Jasper counties grow, we are seeing an increase in lost pets. On Facebook, these postings now make up a serious number of entries.

There are local groups who are always posting to help find these lost dogs and cats. This is not to say that accidents don’t happen; of course they do. However, over a lifetime of owning house pets, what would you consider the norm of having one lost – meaning escaped, not stolen? Once or twice? Stolen is another category, based mostly upon having a dog or cat unsupervised on your property.

Accidents happen when dogs escape from the home or get out of a gate, usually as a result of being unsupervised or someone accidentally leaving a door or gate open.

Dogs escape from cars when you leave a window open. Dogs escape in the midst of car accidents. These are mostly things one has a hard time preventing. But there are so many other situations that are preventable.

In the summer, when owners and dogs are outside, and holidays in general, because more people are around, dogs tend to be the last thing you are watching. Perhaps you have left your dog with a sitter who is not as careful as you are. These are incredibly common occurrences. Taking extra care during these times is critical.

Put a note on the door – “Watch Out For The Dog.” Or crate them or put them in a secure room, or take them to dog kennel if things are just too busy during holidays.

So how do we reduce these potentially disastrous situations?

Teach your children not to open any outside door unless their pet is secured elsewhere. This could include a gated area, crate or another room with a door.

If possible, design a barrier that blocks access to the door. This might be a gate or indoor electronic fence.

In general, dogs should not be alone outside without a fence or electronic fence, or electronic collar, or on a leash or long tether line. Do not trust your dog to just stay in your yard!

Fence in your yard. Electronic fences don’t work for all pets but they are fairly reliable for most dogs and cats, and they are reasonably priced. If your dog digs under a physical fence, then put an electronic fence inside the physical fence that will keep them away from the actual fence barrier.

Train your dog to stay away from doors without permission. Yes, training! The Stay command can be trained by your family or any local trainer.

Invest in a GPS type tracking device. There are several on the market that are reasonably priced.

Bottom line: Missing pets are not always found. Whether missing, stolen or lost, run over by cars, or taken by alligators, it is a nightmare for families as well as the pet. This is mostly a solvable problem.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com