Nothing is more heart-breaking than losing your dog.
When it happens, minutes matter. The more time that elapses between when your dog got loose and when you begin your search, the harder it will be to find your dog. But don’t despair, there are plenty of stories of people who got a dog back after being missing for months, a year or even more. FidoUniverse.com puts a host of resources at your finger tips.
Here are six tips to jump start a search for a lost dog.
- Search your home and yard. Your dog might be chilling in some peaceful, dark space you might not have thought of. He may have gotten shut in a room or closet. She may be under a bush in the yard. Talk to family or roommates. Run through the cues that usually bring a dog running — shaking the treat jar, rattling cellophane, running the can opener, shaking your keys or the leash or calling your dog’s name.
- Check the immediate neighborhood. Walk a couple of blocks radius. Bring a picture of your dog. Talk to the people you meet, tell them your dog is lost and show them the picture. Walk up driveways and check under shrubs. Dogs generally don’t walk in a straight path or use sidewalks the way people do. If you don’t find your dog with a quick walk around your neighborhood, get in the car and drive around. Most dogs are found within a two-mile radius of home. But how far your dog will get will depend on your dog’s size and breed. Larger dogs could get much further out. then start driving slowly to cover more distance. Having a second person to drive while you look, is helpful.
- Mobilize your social network. Get on your phone and call friends and neighbors and ask that they keep an eye out for the dog. Post on Facebook and Twitter that you have lost your dog.
- Contact Los Angeles city and county animal shelters and rescue organizations. FidoUniverse.com can help you locate the nearest shelters to your home using your zip code. Remember that dog may end up in a shelter that isn’t close to home.
- Make a flyer and post it widely. Keep the flyer simple and direct. The headline can simply say “Lost Dog” with a photo below. Describe the dog’s breed, color, sex, age and weight, where and when it was last seen and how to get in touch with you if it is seen. The flyer should be photocopied rather than run off on your home printer because the ink will last longer. The flyer should be post widely in your neighborhood beginning with the the routes you usually walk. Talk to people like the mail carrier, FedEx and UPS delivery people and meter readers who regularly walk the neighborhood and may have seen your dog. Post flyers at nearby parks, pet supply stores, groomers and veterinary offices. (Again checking FidoUniverse’s directory of services can help you focus on your neighborhood.) Don’t forget to post flyers on bulletin boards at coffee bars, grocery stories, gas stations and other local businesses. Take your flyer in person to animal shelters and rescue organizations to help them spot your lost dog if it is picked up.
- Use online resources. There are a wide variety of databases and alert networks that you can use to help find a lost dog. Keep in mind that a online database is only as good as the people who use it. Nothing replaces personal legwork in getting flyers out in your neighborhood and to shelters and rescue organizations. Here are a few lost dog databases to consider:
- Craig’s List for found dogs.
- HomeAgain has a National Pet Recovery Database. Any pet that is microchipped can be registered. When a pet is lost their alert system can be activated and you can get guidance finding your pet.
- PetMetric.com is another online database that you can use to set up a profile of your pet; if it ever becomes lost, you can change its status from “at home” to “lost” and it will be put in a lost pet database. People find lost animals can alert you through the database that your dog has been sighted.
- Oliver Alert has both a Facebook page where you can post photos of missing animals and website with information about finding a lost pet. It maintains Lostandpound.com, a database of lost animals that will send email alerts to vets, police stations, animal shelters and Neighborhood Watch volunteers if you register a lost pet.
- Sherlockbones.com has been around for 30 years helping people find lost pets. John Keane, the Sherlock behind this organization, sells a $30 e-book that he says will multiply your chances of finding a lost pet.
- Fido finder.com is another database that offers tips on finding lost dogs, has an alert system for area shelters and offers special dog tags. These $10 stainless steel dog tags attach securely to a dog’s collar, reducing the chance of the tag falling off and include the dog’s FidoFinder registered ID number. They also have a Facebook page.
- The Center for Lost Pets is run by the Humane Society of the United States. It’s another free database that allows you to search to see if a lost pet has been found. It also offers advice for finding lost pets and checklists to guide your search.
Trying to find a lost pet can put you in crisis mode. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to take care of yourself during this time. Sometimes, it takes time to find a lost people. Don’t wear yourself down to the end of your reserves.
One last caution, as horrible as it sounds, some people see a lost pet as an opportunity for a scam. For example, the man who calls saying that he’s a truck driver who picked up a dog that looks just like yours and then saw the notice on line and will be glad to send your dog back — if you pay up front for the transportation. Never agree to give someone reward money in advance of getting the dog. Never turn over a reward without taking care that the dog is really yours. Arrange to collect your dog in a public place.