How to Find a Lost Dog – Here Are the Steps to Follow

How to Find a Lost Dog - Here Are the Steps to Follow

The scariest thing a dog parent can experience is losing their canine companion. Whether the dog is an escape artist or someone left the door open, it can happen to even the most diligent dog owner. This post outlines the steps to take in the event of an emergency and will explain how to find a lost dog more easily.

The First 24 Hours

Any shelter employee or animal control officer will tell you that that the sooner you notice your dog missing, the sooner and more likely you’ll be able the find her. During the first 24-hour period it’s crucial that you do everything you can to reunite with your dog. The longer she is out, the further she may travel and the higher her risk of getting hit by a car.

Start the Search

The first step to find a lost dog is to search your neighborhood. Many dogs escape and eventually try to find their way home, but become disoriented and get lost. Often they are very close to home and will be found in the first day with the help of vigilant friends, neighbors, and pedestrians. You’ll need to:

Team up: The more people searching the more likely you are to run into your dog. Enlist family members, friends, and neighbors in your search.

Scour your area: Get your search volunteers out in the neighborhood on foot or in cars looking for your dog. There is a good chance she won’t have wandered very far if you’ve been able to catch her disappearing act quickly.

Bring handouts: Have business cards or something with your phone number on it to hand out to pedestrians and neighbors while searching. Ask everyone you meet to call if they encounter your dog.

Man the phones: If your cell phone number is on your dog’s tags, be sure to have it on your person with the ringer volume turned up. If her tag displays your home phone, be sure to have someone at home at all times in case she is found. The last thing you’d want in this scenario is to miss the call telling you your dog is safe and sound.

Call local animal shelters: You’ll want to check with every shelter in your area to make sure your dog hasn’t already been picked up. Police, animal control, and other motorists regularly pick up lost dogs and bring them to shelters.

Keep Searching

Often your lost dog won’t make it home in the first 24 hours. Consider how many people are sympathetically inclined to bring your dog into their home to protect her. If she doesn’t have tags or her collar has fallen off, they may not have been able to determine where she lives or how to contact you. Get the word out about your lost dog in as many ways as possible.

Make a flyer: Find the most recent clear picture you have of your dog and create a flyer that lists her name, age, weight, and any other defining features, as well as where she was last seen. Be sure to include your phone number and address. Plaster them all around your neighborhood or wherever your dog was lost.

Hit the neighborhood again: You’re seeing great results from handing out your flyer to neighbors and pedestrians, but don’t stop there. Give them to your mail carrier, UPS driver, and other people who are traveling all over your area each day. Head over to your local dog parks and disperse flyers to everyone you meet, as they’ll surely be empathetic and do what they can to help.

Offer a reward: It may seem unlikely, but dogs are regularly stolen from their homes. If the thief sees that you’re willing to pay to have your dog returned they may turn around and bring them back to you. It’s a terrible trade, but you’ll likely be happy to hand over some cash to have your best friend back home. Beware of scams. Some people take advantage of these rewards so make sure anyone attempting to claim it can describe your dog in detail. Hopefully the person returning the dog will be happy just to reunite you with her, but it doesn’t hurt to add the reward to your flyer.

Get online: When considering how to find a lost dog, remember that we live in the age of social media. Post your flyer online and ask everyone in your social networks to share your post. If they get their network to do the same you’ll soon have thousands of people looking out for your dog and participating in the search.

Keep calling shelters: If someone has taken your dog in they may not have brought them to the shelter immediately. In many cases people wait to see if they see a “lost dog” poster first. Others mean to keep the lost dog while they search for their owner but later take them to a shelter to appease a family member.

Important Note:

One of the main reasons dogs run away is to find a mate. The instinctive urge that comes along with sexual maturity, and especially when females are in heat, can cause dogs to do things they normally wouldn’t. One of the best ways to prevent a lost dog is by getting them spayed or neutered.

Still no sign?

Don’t get discouraged, we see firsthand accounts of dogs and owners being reunited after long periods over large distances. Keep up the search and you’ll likely find your lost dog. Keep posting flyers, talking to neighbors, and calling shelters. Scan the internet for found dog postings in your area on Craigslist and other similar sites.

We sincerely hope that your lost dog story will have a happy ending.

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