12 Helpful Tips for Finding Your Lost Dog
As part of my animal consulting business, I have worked with people around the world who have missing animals. For over a decade, I have had a great deal of success in reuniting animals with their families. While no one can guarantee that a lost dog will be reunited with their family, implementing these steps will increase your chances of being reunited with your missing dog.
- Create a laminated ‘lost dog’ sign that contains the word 'REWARD' at the top, a recent color picture of the animal in the center of the sign and the phone number to contact if your dog is seen by someone or found. It’s very important not to list any other details. Using too many details clutters the sign and makes it more difficult for people to remember the information. NOTE: Use a large enough sign that it can be seen by drivers from their cars. If the sign is too small, they will not be able to read the information.
- Post the ‘lost dog’ sign around your neighborhood, at local veterinarian's offices, at the county animal control shelter and at local animal rescue shelters.
- If you live in a major city with a lot of restaurants nearby, provide each restaurant with the 'lost dog' sign or fliers. After all, the animal will find food wherever it is convenient.
- If your dog is micro-chipped, contact the issuing company (e.g. Avid, Home Again, etc.) and ensure that they have your current contact information on file.
- Visit your local animal control offices and local animal rescue shelters daily to see if your dog is among those at the shelters. Unfortunately, most animal control offices have a very short time frame that they can house animals. So, it’s very important to take the time to do this. In addition, the shelters often use volunteers to work in the facilities. These volunteers change on a daily basis. So, who you spoke to yesterday may not be there today.
- Place a ‘lost dog’ ad in your local newspaper and on web sites that are typically used in your area to post missing pet information. Include the same information that you have on the 'lost dog' sign and fliers.
- Check ‘found dog’ ads in the local newspaper, on local animal rescue shelter web sites and on various web sites where ‘found pet’ information can be posted.
- Canvas a three-block radius around your neighborhood from your home. It is important to literally knock on doors and talk to your neighbors so they are aware that your dog is missing. If they aren’t home, leave a flier with your pet’s photo and your contact information on it.
- Set a humane trap, pet taxi or crate in a safe area near the exterior of your home (e.g. front porch, deck, back porch, etc.) and cover the back and sides of the trap or carrier with a towel or blanket that has your scent or your dog's scent on it. Check on the trap, taxi or crate frequently but do it discretely so as not to scare your dog away. Put a bowl of fresh soft dog food, peanut butter or your dog’s favorite treats in the enclosure to lure your dog into the enclosure. You may catch other animals as well, but you might also catch your own dog if they are nearby. If you do happen to catch other animals, release them from the trap while you are standing at the back of the trap. They will generally run away very quickly and not look back.
- If you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowner's association, contact one of the board members and ask them to post your dog's information on the neighborhood’s web site and to send out an e-mail to everyone in the neighborhood asking that you be called if someone sees your dog.
- Provide a "lost dog" flier to drivers with regular routes in the area and ask them to contact you if they spot your missing dog. This includes mail carriers, trash collectors, school bus drivers and delivery truck drivers (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.).
- Actively keep searching for your lost dog no matter how much time has elapsed. Lost dogs can turn up weeks and sometimes months or years after they've gone missing.
The most important thing to do is to remain calm and implement a plan to find your lost dog.
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