Each year, over 200 lost dogs end up at our shelter. Most are friendly, well-cared-for dogs that have become separated from their families. Unfortunately, only 50-60% of those dogs ever get back home. Reuniting more lost dogs with their families is a major goal of the humane society.
Here are some tips on what you should do if your dog goes missing.
The first step is prevention. Make sure your dog always wears an identification tag with a current phone number. However, because tags and collars can get lost, it’s also important to have your dog microchipped and make sure that you keep the contact information associated with the microchip up to date.
Don’t wait and assume your dog will find his way home. If your dog goes missing, acting quickly to find him is vital. As soon as you realize your dog is missing begin a search near your home. Take a picture of your dog to where he was last seen and walk (or drive slowly) around the area asking your neighbors if they’ve seen your dog. The key is to alert as many people as possible about your lost dog. Be sure someone stays home to answer phone calls regarding any sightings and to be there if your dog returns. Take a flashlight with you and look under porches and shrubs and ask your neighbors to check their garages and sheds. If your dog likes squeaky toys, take one with you.
In a survey conducted by the ASPCA it was determined that 49% of lost dogs were found by searching in their own neighborhood. Searching immediately, and nearby, are keys to finding your dog.
Call your local shelter and surrounding county shelters as soon as possible to file a lost dog report. Also stop by the shelter every few days to see if your dog is there.
Distribute a flyer with your dog’s picture on it and your contact information. Give the flyer to all your neighbors, local businesses, your mail carriers, delivery drivers, school bus drivers, shelters and local veterinary offices. The more people who know your dog is missing the better chance of finding him. You can also place a large, brightly colored poster with your dog’s picture and your contact information at a major intersection near where your dog went missing.
Use social media. Post on your own and the local shelter’s Facebook pages. There are also specific Facebook pages for lost pets.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Lost dogs have been reunited with their owners even after a year or more. Continue checking the local shelters and keep flyers and posters up.