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L is for lost dogs

L is for lost dogs

Losing a dog is a tragedy no dog-lover believes will ever happen to them. Being prepared can help carry you from shock to focused action.

Here are five tips to help you search more effectively

1. Search for a lost dog locally first. In the first hours after a dog has gone missing, the chances are best that he or she hasn’t had time to go too far. Start searching your neighborhood first, checking the routes you usually walk with your dog, friends you visit or other places your dog has gone to. Call friends, neighbors and all the dog people you know to help in the search.

2. Make posters you can put up and pass out. Ideally, these posters should have a recent color photograph of your dog, a physical description and a way to contact you if your lost dog is seen. If you are attaching the flyers to telephone poles or other places outdoors, you may want to slide it into a sheet protector to protect it from dew or moisture. Passing the flyer out to area businesses or people you usually see when walking your dog can help.

Keeping a supply of these flyers in your car is wise too.  If your dog goes missing at a dog park or on a road trip, you will be quickly prepared to spread the word he or she is missing.

3. Visit shelters in a wide radius of where your dog first went missing. It may seem counterintuitive, but people who find lost dogs don’t always take them to the nearest shelter. Someone may find a dog in Sherman Oaks, say, but believe the dog has a better chance of surviving at the Pasadena Humane Society shelter than the East Valley Shelter. This impression may be totally off the mark, but it will guide someone who finds a lost dog to drive miles further than the dog could walk or run and leave him at a distant shelter. Actually visiting the shelter rather than calling or searching online is the most certain way to identify your dog.

4. Don’t rely on breed descriptions offered by shelters or websites. Shelters are notorious for not identifying a dog’s breed accurately. Using a filter on a website to narrow down your search may mean you’ll never find your dog if he or she has been misidentified.  This is another reason why going in person to see the dogs that are picked up at the shelter is best.

5. Offer a reward — or not? This is a tricky issue. Sometimes the offer of a reward may make a finder think that he’s found an extremely valuable dog that he may try to sell. This is especially so if your dog is purebred or extremely attractive. You may pick a reward that you think is reasonable only to find that the person who found your dog doesn’t agree. The finder may try to negotiate a higher price, turning your dog into a hostage in a negotiation for more money. It’s a tough call with no black-and-white answers.

It goes without saying that as your dog’s loving caretaker you need to be sure that he or she has a tag with contact information and a microchip that can be found easily and is registered with up to date information.

This is the twelfth post in the 2015 A-to-Z Blog Challenge. Beginning with A and continuing on to Z, we’re committed to writing posts using the letters of the alphabet in order from Monday through Friday. Check back tomorrow for “M is for mastiffs.”