Elaborate website to help find missing moggy

POWER UP: Daniel Merriott is going to creative lengths to get his family feline back.
Lauren Priestley

POWER UP: Daniel Merriott is going to creative lengths to get his family feline back.

From hiring helicopters to leasing billboards, there's no limit to the lengths some owners will go to when their fur babies are lost.

And Daniel and Mary-Anne Merriott are no exception.

When their 18-month-old moggy Sophia went missing on January 12 from the Auckland suburb of St Heliers, the couple thought outside the box to create missingsophia.com

STILL LOOKING: The Merriott’s 18-month-old cat Sophia went missing from West Tamaki Drive on January 12.

STILL LOOKING: The Merriott’s 18-month-old cat Sophia went missing from West Tamaki Drive on January 12.

The elaborate website includes a map pinpointing sightings, information, photos and a $100 reward offer. It has received about 250 views so far.

Daniel hopes it will be a "tail" with a happy ending.

"The website is one tool - but it doesn't find her. People looking, that's what really finds her.

"She's part of our family...we owe it to her to do all we can find her and make sure she is safe."

The Merriotts have clocked up 10 to 15 kilometres each day on foot since Sophia's disappearance, dropping more than 700 flyers to their neighbours.

They have received support from the Lonely Miaow Association and Pet Doctors in the search but creating a website was a way of getting younger people involved in the hunt, Daniel said.

The search will continue until Sophia is found.

"We've had her since she was three months [old]. I just saw her and tears welled up in my eyes. I knew she was the cat.

"The response has been absolutely touching. People are actually stopping on their way to work because they think they've seen a cat."

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Petsonthenet.co.nz founder Kim Buchanan said the website was one of many creative expeditions she has seen for lost pets.

The free nationwide database can receive more than 200 listings of lost pets every day.

Buchanan remembers one Wellington cat owner who had T-shirts emblazoned with "The Sneak is not dead" made to find his beloved cat. The feline was later found at the SPCA.

Just last month a desperate dog owner in Wales hired a helicopter to search sand dunes for her pet.

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Billboards have been used overseas to advertise for missing pets but Buchanan is unaware of it happening in New Zealand - yet.

"It's not surprising to me that people go that far. Some people go really far and others do nothing, that's more strange.

"The more that a person puts in the more likely it is that they're going to have a success. It is good to do the extra things but it's really important to keep to the basics as well."

Lonely Miaow committee member Peter Dorman says the main thing is not to stop searching.

"Just keep going, it must be somewhere. Never give up."

Check out missingsophia.com to see if you can help.

TOP TIPS TO FIND A LOST PET

- Contact local vets and the SPCA with a good description of your pet

- Place a listing on petsonthenet.co.nz, including a picture if possible, and make sure to check the website "Found Pets" section daily.

- Distribute flyers to your neighbours and the surrounding streets.

- Turn to social media - post a lost cat notice on Neighbourly.co.nz or post a message on animal welfare/rescue pages such as Paw Justice, SPCA, NZ Lost Pet Register or Cats of Auckland.

- Place a classified advertisement in your local paper and its website

- Ask local schools to put a message in their newsletters.

- Put up posters at bus stops, libraries and local shops.

- Keep your search broad - you never know how far your moggy or doggy might have travelled.

- Don't give up - some pets have been found more than a year after they first went missing.

 - Stuff

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