No one wants to contemplate losing their four-legged companion, but it does happen. Dogs become lost for a variety of reasons. They are opportunistic and see an open door or gate and decide to take a trip. They are in new surroundings and panic at a scary sound or sight. Sometimes it is as simple as an instinctive case of wanderlust.
Whatever the reason, it is terrifying for the owner of the missing dog. There are things that every owner should do to increase the likelihood of a quick reunion. The two most important preventative steps are:
1. Make sure your dog always has a collar on with your current contact information.
2. Microchip your dog and keep your contact information current in the national registry.
These two steps go a long way in assuring that your dog is returned safely. If your dog is missing, this guide will explain the most effective means to make sure you can find your pet as soon as possible.
After checking the immediate area like your home or whatever location you were in when your dog went missing, the next step is to alert neighbors. If you were away from home when it happened, get help from friends or family if possible. Multiple people can cover an area quicker.
If you do not find your dog right away then it is time to put an action plan in place. The following are the best steps to take as quickly as possible:
· Utilize social media. Find the best picture you have of your dog and post it on all your social media accounts letting everyone know the dog is missing. Then look for any lost pet groups within your local area and post in every one of those. Recruit someone who is willing to keep a close check on those posts and answer any questions or responses as soon as possible.
· If your neighborhood has the NextDoor app, put the same information you used in your social media post. This is a terrific way to alert your entire neighborhood to be on the look-out for your dog.
· If your dog is skittish or shy around strangers, make sure and put this in your post. Ask that no one chase your dog. Let them know to simply call you instead and you will be there as soon as possible.
· Use an app that issues a community alert, such as FindShadow. The app houses thousands of volunteers with the same love for pets as you have. They have helped to reunite over 2,000 lost dogs with their humans.
· Print up flyers. This may seem old-fashioned, but it is still a highly effective method. Display them prominently in the area where your dog went missing. Ask your local veterinarians if you can place flyers in their offices. Local businesses will often have an area for you to place these as well.
· Talk to your neighbors and make sure they know how to contact you.
· Check with all local shelters and ask if they take missing animal reports. Keep checking back if your dog is not found quickly.
· Do not forget to check with private rescue groups as well. If your dog is a specific breed, check with any rescue groups for that breed.
· Wait until after sunset and search the area again. If your dog is frightened and disoriented, it may wait until the cover of darkness to try to find its way home. Take a bright flashlight and walk the area. Look under shrubs, cars, and anything else your dog could be used as cover.
Remember that it is rare for someone to take a pet that is not theirs. If someone has taken your pet in, odds are that it is with genuinely good intentions to keep your pet from harm. This is why you need flyers and as much social media coverage as possible.
If someone has your dog, the overwhelming odds are that your dog is safe and they will return the dog to you as soon as they realize who the dog belongs to. So, ask your local friends and family to share your post. You want as many people as possible to know that this is your dog and you are desperately searching for him/her.
You may need to go door-to-door if your dog went missing in a strange area or if you do not know many of your neighbors well. Just politely knock, show them a picture and ask if they have seen the dog. Have extra flyers and cards with your phone number on it. That way, you can easily leave a way for them to contact you if they do see your dog.
The vast majority of dogs who have an owner actively looking for them are eventually returned home safely. Just plant that thought in your mind and do not panic or give up hope.
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