I never knew my life was in black and white until I got my rescue dog, Buffy: a tiny papillon with big, wispy butterfly ears that make my heart flutter.
The first time she licked my face, I felt like Dorothy stepping out into Oz — everything was suddenly in color. I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost her.
It’s the biggest fear of every pet parent — you call your dog’s name and they never come. The worst part is that it can happen so easily; a door can carelessly be left open, they can slip out of their leash, dig a hole in the yard, or someone can take them from you out of spite, like this one family experienced when they lost their pup for nearly three years.
Due to the tragic feelings that wash over you in the wake of a lost pet, it’s important to prepare for this kind of sad scenario, especially since like a cold case, the first 12 hours are imperative.
The likelihood of your precious pooch returning home increases vastly if you’re fully informed on what to do in the event that Fido flees. We don’t mean to be alarming, but these dogs are domesticated animals and who knows what could happen to them on their own in the wild.
So, if your dog goes missing, take a deep breath, calm your nerves, think clearly, and follow these simple steps that can help you reunite with your pet and possibly save their lives.
Please, please SHARE with all of your pet-owning friends.
Smart pet sleuths know that if a dog goes missing, time is of the essence and you should act immediately.
“Time is the most critical factor when it comes to recovering a lost pet. Most lost pets that are recovered are found relatively quickly and in close proximity to where they went missing,” said Patricia Sapia, co-author of the award-winning The Complete Guide to Lost Pet Prevention & Recovery, citing pet detective Larry Maynard of National Pet Detectives, a lost pet prevention and recovery service located in Pinellas County, FL.
According to Maynard, in his experience, 89% of lost pets are found if their owners searched actively for them in the first 12 hours after they went missing.
Lure them back to the last place you saw them.
According to a popular post on Reddit, another way to get your pooch back is to entice them back to where they were lost. For instance, if you lost a dog in a heavily wooded area, it’s smart to take a piece of clothing that you’ve been wearing for at least 24 hours and tie it to a tree close to the spot where you last saw them. If the dog has a crate or familiar toy, it would be wise to leave it there as well, along with a bowl of water, being that your pal probably hasn’t had anything to drink in quite a while. Do not leave food, because it will attract other animals. Check a day later and hopefully your dog will be there waiting for you as it is now a familiar-smelling spot.
If they have a microchip, search online databases.
If your dog has a microchip or ID tag, check a few online databases to see if your pup has been recovered, here are a few options:
Microchip Registration Center
Pet Amber Alert
If your dog is not yet microchipped, keep this in mind: “It is widely known that the prospects for reuniting owners with their stray pets without identification are bleak,” said Sapia told Home Again. “As many as 1.5 million dogs and cats are stolen each year, and the majority is never recovered.”
Search your neighborhood.
Does your dog like to sneak into a specific neighbor’s backyard, is there a bush they always sniff looking for the neighborhood tomcat, or is there another dog in the area that they have a relationship with (be they friend or enemy)? Those are good places to start looking. Also, according to Home Again, many times a lost puppy is found snoozing in a closet or under a bed.
“Walk around your neighborhood, talk to the neighbors, delivery people, and the mailman. Show them a picture and post signs with details about your pet. A color photograph helps tremendously,” suggests Betsy McFarland, program director for animal sheltering issues at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in Washington, D.C.
Search a little farther than you would initially expect.
Don’t assume your curious canine doesn’t want to expand their horizons and venture outside of their comfort zones. Not only can dogs easily travel long distances on foot, there are other factors that also come into play.
“Good Samaritans may also transport an animal they find to a hospital quite a distance away,” said Mary Anna Labato, DVM, DACVIM, and clinical associate professor in small animal medicine at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Make sure to create the right kind of "Lost Dog" flyer.
Post “lost pet” flyers within a 10-mile radius of your home, or even further if you live in a rural area. Make sure your sign is at eye-level and the photo of your pet is in color so people notice it. Include your phone number and offer a reward, but leave out any identifying details about your pet that aren’t in the photo, so you can quiz callers who may be scamming you for the reward money. For example, if your dog has an identifying mark that isn’t visible in the photo, use that to test the validity of your callers’ claims.
Get on Facebook immediately!
Never underestimate the power of social media. Post the same information from your lost pet flyer on your Facebook wall and ask your network of friends to share it.
Call the police and local shelters.
They may not call out every squad car, but making the police aware is always a wise idea. Filing a report is also putting an official claim on paper, and creating a record in case you need it as evidence later to identify your dog.
Also, check local shelters. They are in existence to help you with this very problem. Call or visit all your local animal shelters and humane societies — and do this daily, so they can keep an eye out for your pup.
Call a Professional Pet Detective.
Believe it or not, real Ace Venturas exist. If you are feeling desperate, these professionals have resources and connections that the typical dog owner does not.
Don’t give up.
Never say “never.” Here at LittleThings, we write stories on a daily basis about pets that have gone missing and are reunited with their owners weeks, months, and even years later. Have faith and use every resource we have given you to increase your chances of finding your favorite four-legged member of your family.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
Please SHARE and help others protect and find their pets!