It’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare. Somehow, through some accident or terrible series of events, your beloved pet is missing. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself it’s hard to put into words the anxiety and fear that someone feels when their dog is missing.
If you should find yourself in this position there are some things you can do to make it far more likely that you will find your dog. There are even a few things you can do before your dog ever gets lost.
1. Make sure that your dog has some kind of permanent identification. Whether your dog has a microchip or a tattoo, a permanent ID will increase your dog’s chances of coming home. If your dog has a permanent ID you can register him with a registry such as Companion Animal Recovery ( http://www.akccar.org/ ). If your dog is found by anyone they can take him to a vet or an animal shelter, which have scanners, and they can scan your dog for his microchip. The microchip has contact information for CAR and they can get in touch with you, your family members, your vet, and any other people you designate. You can use the same approach with a tattoo that has a contact number for CAR. Thousands of dogs are reunited with their owners each year because they have permanent ID.
2. You should also be sure that your dog is wearing a collar with tags. A collar and tags immediately tell people who see your dog that he is not just a stray dog. They can tell that he is lost and that someone is probably looking for him. If someone has a chance to look at your dog’s tags they can get contact information from them to get in touch with you. A collar and tags will make it much easier for your dog to be returned to you.
3. If your dog is missing you should try to rally around you as many family and friends as possible to help in a search. Check houses and streets in your neighborhood. Many times a dog will stay in an area that he knows. He may be playing with a dog on the next street. Walk the streets, go door to door asking if people have seen your dog. Call his name as you walk.
4. While you search, try to have a friend create flyers and posters with a picture of your dog. Put your phone numbers on them. Make sure that you keep your phone with you so you can answer it at all times. Have someone who can stay at your home so they can answer any calls to your house. Put the flyers and posters up on phone poles, at convenience stores, in vet offices, and any place where people come and go. It’s fine to offer a reward but don’t mention an amount. If people think your dog is very valuable they may be tempted to keep him.
5. Visit animal shelters and rescues to look for your dog at least every couple of days. Phone calls are not enough. After your dog has been gone for a couple of days he won’t look clean and pretty the way he does in his photos. He may start to look dirty and matted. Shelter workers and rescuers may have a hard time identifying him from his photo. The only way to make sure your dog is not at a shelter or rescue is to personally visit them.
6. Place an ad in the paper about your dog and be sure to check the ads for found dogs. Call local radio shows about your dog. Call community calendar TV shows. Get the word out about your dog any way that you can.
7. Visit your local post offices and give flyers to the mailmen who deliver the mail. They go everywhere and may remember a new dog in a neighborhood.
8. Visit the school bus depot and talk to bus drivers. Ask if you can leave flyers with them. They drive routes all over and may notice a dog wandering around.
9. If at all possible, try to get kids in your neighborhood involved in looking for your dog. Many lost dogs are found by kids. They usually know what goes on in a neighborhood and where dogs like to go.
10. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Many dogs return home. It sometimes takes days or weeks, but dogs are very resourceful. Your dog may have started out playing and having a good time and simply become lost, but he is probably trying to find his way home. Keep looking. There are many stories of lost dogs that have been found, some months and years later, especially if they have a microchip.
These are just a few ideas to help you find your dog if he should ever become lost. You may think of many more. Some people have used pet detectives with success. If you have a pet detective near you, you may want to give it a try. Some pet detectives use search dogs to search for missing pets. If they have to travel a long distance to come to your area they can be very expensive, but there are more and more pet detectives at work today, so the chances of one being located close to you are improving.
Other people have used pet communicators to find missing dogs. Some people say pet communicators have done a wonderful job of helping them find their dogs. Other people are not convinced that they work. It may depend on the individual pet communicator and whether or not you think they are really in communication with your dog. However, if you have tried everything else and you are willing to see if a pet communicator can help, you may want to give it a try.
Remember that dogs can often find their way back home weeks and months after they have gone missing. If your dog is lost you should not give up hope. There are many proactive things you can do to find your dog.