Tips for Finding Lost Dogs

Tips to Safely Getting Pups Back Home

No one wants to think about it until it happens to them — the nightmare of a missing pet. It is a heart-stopping moment. Your mind is racing from thought to thought. You are frantically searching for: ‘how can I find my missing pet’, ‘help me find my missing dog’, ‘my dog ran away’, and ‘tips to find my dog’. It is hard to think clearly and put into action a strategy to find your dog and get them back home as soon as possible. But a strategy does exist.

The American Humane Association has estimated that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the US every year. That translates to one in three pets becoming lost at some point during their lifetime.

According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), here’s what you should do immediately when you realize your beloved pet is missing:

  • Neighborhood Networking — Get the word out to as many people in as many places as possible as soon as possible. Walk around your neighborhood with pictures of your pet and ask your neighbors to check their sheds and garages.
  • Call local animal control agencies, veterinary hospitals and shelters and rescue groups in the area — Check in with shelters daily, and make as many visits in person as possible with photos of your missing pet. If there are no shelters or rescues close to your home ask your local police department.
  • Inform Your Social Media Networks — Send an email about your lost pet to friends, family and colleagues and ask them to pass along the information to anyone they can. Next share the news with your social media networks and community “Lost Pet” Facebook pages, which keep updated information on lost pets. Reach out to administrators of those pages and ask them to share information about your pet. Create your own Facebook page about your missing pet and share it across your social networks.
  • Create a “Lost Pet” flier and blanket your neighborhood with it — Use bold, big headlines that are legible from a distance, such as “LOST DOG” or “MISSING CAT.” Use a clear and recent photo of your pet and list breed, sex, coloring, age, weight, distinguishing features and where they were last seen. It’s best to provide your name and two phone numbers; your and that of a friend or family member.
  • Post the flier in dog parks and runs, pet supply stores, pet grooming stores and veterinary offices. Also consider posting it in grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, laundromats, bars, cafes, restaurants and other high traffic areas.
  • Cover lampposts and trees near where your pet was lost, near schools and at the eye level of children, who can be more observant than adults.
  • Beware of Scammers — Sadly, there are disingenuous people who will offer false information in an effort to collect money. Be sure not to reveal all physical details about your missing pet and wait for a caller or someone who offers a tip via email to disclose the missing details before you accept their help or arrange to meet with them. Do not wire or send them money regardless what information they offer!! Instead, ask to meet them at your local police station or animal shelter to be reunited with your pet.
  • Don’t give up! Many lost animals find their way home!

Proper identification can save your pet’s life. Be sure to have collars with ID tags on all of your pets, even those who stay inside. The ID tag should list your name, current phone number and any relevant contact information.

The rate of successful reunions increases in pets that have been microchipped, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The study cited data from 53 animal shelters across the US, which revealed only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, microchipped dogs were returned to owners more than 52 percent of the time; an increase of 238 percent.

Statistics for non-microchipped cats that were lost were even worse. According to the study, less than 2 percent of cats that entered shelters were ever reunite with their owners. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats rose by more than 2,000 percent, or was successful approximately 38 percent of the time.

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