Your kids leave the gate open and Max escapes. Trixie slips out when you answer your door. On a road trip, Buster slips his collar and goes after a squirrel. It can happen to anyone. What do you do next?
Before this issue ever arises – be sure to always have identification tags on your dog. These should have your phone number on them and perhaps your address. Never your dog’s name. If somebody should find and want to keep your dog, they would have the name the dog responds to. Microchipping and tattooing are great additional options, but you should never rely on those alone. Many people won’t know to look for these.
When you first notice your pet is missing – Leave your house and start calling for your pet by name. You can kill two birds with one stone if you bring your cell phone and start calling family and friends to help you search. Stop and talk to anybody you see out while you are looking. Try all directions, on and off the roads. Don’t go on a hunch and keep searching in the same places. If you are searching from your car make sure to stop and turn it of frequently to listen.
If you return home empty-handed – try calling all of your neighbors, veterinarians, grooming salons, dog trainers, kennels, shelters, animal control, and local police stations. Leave your information with them in case your dog shows up later. Then start making index cards and posters to hand out.
Your posters should have LOST DOG written in big, bold letters at the top of the page. Remember that people who are driving past should be able to see and read them. Describe your dog’s appearance in detail, most people are not very familiar with dog breeds so it will mean very little to them. Always put that there is a reward, but never state an amount – and be prepared to pay! Be sure to put your telephone number as well. Your index cards should have a description and phone number as well.
Hand out your index cards to every house in the vicinity, leave them in the door of houses where nobody is home, and in car windshields. Post up your posters on every corner streetlights and leave them at grooming salons, kennels, vet offices, municipal building, and pet stores.
The following morning – call your local newspapers to place a lost ad. Even if your local animal shelters don’t report having your dog, visit and see for yourself. Make a point to do this every day or every other day until he or she is found.
No matter how poorly the first hours or days go, don’t give up hope! Many dogs and owners have been reunited with less than bleak odds. Miracles do happen!