What to do if you’ve Lost your Dog

When I was at the Pet Sitting conference in Austin,  I won a Pet Protector ID tag.  Uncertain if it would work in Canada, I only registered today and am happy to say that it allowed me to!  Cruising their website, I found a link to The Center for Lost Pets, which unfortunately is only in the U.S., however they had great advice for what to do if you lose your dog.  Thanks to that site for the following information.  More to come on what to do if you’ve lost your cat, or found a pet.

1.  Start by posting a minimum of 10 signs in the immediate area where your dog was lost. It is best to use brightly-colored paper. If you do not have any, white paper will do. (Click here for a template to help you make the most effective sign.) Post a minimum of 50 signs after completing the steps below.

2. Grab a leash (if possible) and begin to canvas the area where your dog was lost. If you are able to print additional Lost Pet signs, bring them with you so that you can hand them out to neighbors and anyone else you may run into. Enlist the help of friends, family and neighbors in the search.  Be sure to canvas a wide area as your dog may have traveled blocks or even miles from where he was originally lost.

3.Knock on your neighbors’ doors and tell them that your dog is missing. Ask if you can look for your dog on their property. If no one is home, leave one of your signs in their mailbox or near their front door.

4.Call your local police department to see if someone has reported finding your dog.

5.Post your Lost Pet signs at locations where the finder might think to look, ie: veterinary offices, pet-supply stores, groomers, dog parks, supermarkets, the post office and other local businesses. And tell your mail person that your dog is missing.

6.Go to the animal shelter that services the area in which your dog was lost. If you do not know which shelter picks up strays in your area, call your local police department or “411” and ask.

  • It is important that you physically go to the shelter at least every other day. New pets come in daily. Simply calling is not enough. Your dog may not be listed with the front desk when you call or the person may not recognize your dog from your description.
  • Even if your dog was wearing identification when he was lost or he is microchipped, it is highly recommended that you physically go to the shelter. Your dog’s I.D. tag may have come off and microchips can fail to be detected by scanners.
  • Ask to see the dogs in the infirmary as well as in the general runs since your dog might have been injured. While you’re at the shelters, ask to check the listings of animals who didn’t make it, such as those hit by cars. Hard as it is to know a pet was killed, it’s harder to never know what happened.
  • Leave a copy of your Lost Pet sign with the shelter staff.
  • If you are unable to physically go to the shelter, calling is the next best thing.

7.After you have gone to the shelter that services the area where your dog was lost, go to all of the shelters within a 50-mile radius. Your dog may have traveled beyond the area that your local shelter services and been picked up by a neighboring shelter. Ask your local shelter for a list of these additional shelters.

8.Continue to visit the shelters at least every other day. It can take several days for a pet to be picked up by animal control or brought in by a Good Samaritan. Some shelters hold onto a pet for a period of time and then transfer them to another shelter or the person who found your dog may wait several days before turning him into a shelter. Also, the person who found your dog may turn him in to a shelter other than the one that services the area where your dog was initially lost.

9.Contact local rescue groups and let them know that your dog is missing. The person who found your dog may have been afraid that he would be euthanized if they turned him into a shelter and took him to a rescue group instead. For a listing of local rescues, go to www.google.com and enter the words animal, rescue and the name of your city.

10.Place a Lost Pet ad in your local newspaper(s). And be sure to check the “Found Pets” section of the paper. Leave out a piece of information that only the true finder would know, such as the color of your dog’s collar or a distinguishing mark. Sadly, there are scam artists who prey on people who have lost a pet, claiming to have the pet in order to collect a reward.

© The Center for Lost Pets