Sometimes, even the most closely watched dogs can escape from the safest of homes. Summer is time to get outdoors and, whether it is on the trails or in your fenced yard, the unthinkable can always happen. If Fido happens to find his way out of sight, do you know what to do when your dog goes missing? If this happens to your precious pet, the following suggestions should, hopefully, help reunite you.
First, if your dog isn’t microchipped, update the information on his ID tag. If it’s worn out, order a new one – the best is steel and slides onto the collar itself. Inscribe it with two telephone numbers plus area code and your street address including city and state.
As soon as you realize your dog’s missing, alert your neighbors, family and friends and initiate a methodical search of your immediate vicinity. File a lost pet report with every animal shelter and animal control office within a 60-mile radius of your home, and visit any animal shelters, humane societies and/or rescue organizations in your area.
Print and distribute flyers (the brighter the paper the better) with a large, clear photo of your dog and ensure the words “Lost Dog” or “Missing Dog” and the REWARD you’re offering can be read easily from several feet away or from a passing car. (Should you receive a call from someone claiming to have your dog, be extremely cautious. Have the caller read all of the information on the ID tag or — if the tag is “gone” – describe down to the smallest detail the dog he or she has found).
Post and distribute these flyers starting at the point your dog was last seen and fan out in a two to five mile radius. Visit all of the shelters, humane societies and rescue organizations, police departments, vet clinics and emergency animal hospitals within that radius, and if your dog isn’t there, leave them your flyers. Wherever possible, include local parks and gas stations, restaurants and coffee shops, small businesses, schools, libraries and pet stores. This will ensure that everyone knows what your dog looks like and to be on the lookout for him.
Post that same flyer on your personal Facebook page and ensure your privacy setting is “public” so it can be shared. Ask everyone to RESHARE that post, then send emails or text blasts to people you know in your area and ask them to forward it to everyone they know. Post it as well on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Nextdoor.
Post your dog on sites such as Missing Pet Network, Petfinder, FindFido.com and Center for Lost Pets. Post a “Lost Dog” ad on Craigslist under PETS and LOST AND FOUND, and keep checking under FOUND dogs as well. Renew your ad frequently to keep it at the top of the page.
Do online searches for dogs fitting your pet’s description. Someone may have him and may be attempting to sell him. Be proactive, resourceful and don’t give up! Animals missing for weeks or months have been returned to their owners.
Leave (discard and re-fill daily) a bowl of your dog’s favorite food and a bowl of fresh water outside your home in case he finds his way back to you on his own. You might even
consider placing the bowls in a humane trap that will hold him until you recover him.
Now YOU must make every effort to maintain as much of your normal routine as possible. The wear and tear – both mental and physical — of this ordeal is substantial and shouldn’t be underestimated.
And try to remember: most people DO get the call that their precious pet has indeed been found.
By Nomi Berger