How to Find a Lost Dog: 8 Important Tips

Are you aware of what to do if something unexpected occurs and your pet is lost? While no one is aware of exactly how many but it is believed that the American Humane Association (AHA) estimates that around 10 million animals go missing each year. Many of them are rescued by animal shelters; however, if they’re not microchipped or wearing ID tags, less than 15 percent of the dogs and 2 percent of cats can be connected to their owners, as per the AHA.

Why Do Dogs Run Away?

Certain dogs escape if children open doors or workers do not latch gates correctly; other dogs fear separation and attempt to flee the yard or house to search for their owners. Certain dogs are scared of the sound of loud noises like fireworks or thunder and will leap through windows or through gaps in fences to avoid the noise.

“Once they get out, a lot of them panic because they’re not used to that,” says Temma Martin, the public relations manager at Best Friends Animal Society. “They run because they’re afraid of the scary world.”

Some dogs stay near their homes when they escape the area, whereas others flee quickly. Dogs are often found miles away from home, especially when the good Samaritan arrives to collect an animal running along the road, bringing it home, which may be quite a distance out. The scared dogs may escape or hide from the attention of people.

How to Find a Lost Dog: 8 Important Tips

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If you discover your dog has gone missing, you should remain calm and methodical. The more methods you test, the greater your chance of finding your dog quickly.

“It’s best to start looking as soon as you notice that your pet is missing so as to not waste time,” said the doctor. Lori Bierbrier, senior medical director of ASPCA Community Medicine. “Start by looking around the neighborhood when they disappeared within a short period. The distance they can travel is dependent on the pet.”

Here are some tried and true methods to bring lost dogs back:

Be sure to check your home and your yard.

Your dog might have got stuck in the garage, laundry room or closet, or even a seldom utilized spare bedroom. Check under the beds and behind the furniture. Look around your backyard and front for porches and inside sheds.

Find your local area.

Take a walk, bike, or vehicle and look for your pet in your immediate vicinity, searching your street and then a few blocks either way.

Text or call your neighbors

Inform people in the area that the dog has gone missing. Also, ask if anyone else has seen your dog wandering around the room.

Include local social media sites on your list.

Sharing your story about your dog’s disappearance through a website like Nextdoor or a local Facebook page can yield great results. “Pets are getting returned to their owners almost in real-time,” Martin says. “If someone notices a pet in the area or the pet wandering about it’s likely that they’ll snap a photo and then post it. People who have lost pets are posting pictures and the rest of us are just watching the activities. This is basically crowdsourcing assistance.”

Track your pet’s movements using pet trackers or lost pet apps.

Modern technology offers more ways to monitor your pet. The GPS and Bluetooth trackers let you keep track of your pet’s activity and even locate your dog in case he gets lost. For instance, Pawscout is a Bluetooth-enabled pet collar that uses a community of pet owners to help find lost pets through its app for free. It employs radar-style, short-range trackers (within 300 yards) to alert users near your pet or cat lost. It can also be used with the app to monitor walks, create a virtual outdoor pet leash, make digital flyers for lost pets for any pet you spot, and much more.

Contact animal shelters, vet hospitals, and rescue organizations.

“Make calls to the local animal control agencies, veterinary hospitals, shelters–both municipal and private–and rescue groups in your area,” Bierbrier states. “One of them could already have your pet under their care. Make sure to check in with shelters every day and visit them in person, with pictures of your pet that you can distribute to shelter employees. If there is no shelter near your residence you should contact your local police.”

Contact local veterinary clinics.

Someone could take your dog to the nearest animal hospital if your dog has been injured. The Good Samaritans can also take dogs that have been abandoned to a vet in hopes that they’ll be able to aid.

Post dog lost flyers and posters.

If you’ve searched the area around you or contacted neighbors and inquired with local animal shelters and shelters and still cannot find your pet, placing flyers and posters could help you bring your dog back.

The Missing Animal Response Network suggests creating huge-sized, neon-colored posters and applying”the “FIVE + FIVE + FIFTY-FIVE RULE,” which states that you will have around five seconds and five words to convey your message to people passing by. Five words will allow you to make your letters as big as possible and reduce the news to only the most essential details.

Try using phrases such as “HELP FIND! LOST DOG-BEAGLE” or “PLEASE HELP! LOST DOG-BLACK LAB”, and then include your phone number in the text box below as large as you can. Include a high-quality color image of your pet if you can. It is recommended to include a large color photo. Missing Animal Response Network offers several other helpful tips for searching for lost pets on their site.

Include the physical description of your dog, a recent photo, and your contact information. If you have a room with smaller letters, you can include the most recent location of your dog as well as any other helpful information.

In addition to putting lost dog flyers on lampposts and trees near the location where your dog disappeared, The APSCA suggests placing lost dog flyers and posters in places that are geared towards pets, like local dog parks, pet supply stores, and vet clinics, as well as other general places such as grocery stores, cafes, gas stations, and eateries.

Should I Offer a Reward for My Lost Dog?

Giving a reward to a lost dog could draw interest, but it could make you vulnerable to pet scams (someone claims to be your dog but then tries to shake you down to get cash). The Missing Animal Response Network doesn’t recommend giving a reward for other reasons: If people are determined to capture the dog to take home the prize and claim the bonus, they may pursue the dog. The pursuit of strangers could make a frightened dog wander further away or run into oncoming traffic.

How to stop a dog from running away

Ensure your yard is properly fenced, and regularly check your fence to see if there are holes. If your dog seems susceptible to door darting, place your dog on a leash or inside a crate whenever you open the door, or workers are moving in and out. Train your dog to obey a firm “recall” command and practice it often to strengthen it.

Identification is crucial to increase the chances of reuniting if your dog goes missing. The dog should always wear an ID collar with a tag ID and be microchipped. If you’d like to know your dog’s movements, You can look up pet tracking devices using GPS and Smart pet ID tags. Be aware that tags and collars can be lost. Microchips are an additional layer of protection. If your dog ends up in a shelter, the staff will look for a microchip, and you could be returned.

Be sure that the information on the tag of your dog is accurate. If you relocate or change your phone number, you must update your dog’s titles to reflect your current address and number. Make sure to update your information with the microchip company, too. This way, if someone in an animal shelter or vet hospital examines your dog’s chip, they can contact you.

The ASPCA warns pet owners to ensure the business has registered their dog’s microchip. Some pet owners must complete the form or submit the details online after their pet is microchipped. If your pet has gone missing, contact the microchip company you have chosen to inquire about what additional services they provide, such as the ability to connect with lost animal experts.

But what happens if your dog wanders off through an unlocked gate, explores, and then ends up in a yard of a neighboring property only four blocks away? The person in the yard won’t be able to scan for an RFID chip; however, when your dog wears ID tags and a collar with your current contact details, it’s possible to get your dog returned before you know you’ve gone missing.

What to Do if You Find a Lost Dog

If you’ve found the dog missing without identification, you should take him to the nearby animal rescue center. The staff can look up the dog’s microchip and then secure the pet in case the owner is to search for him. You may also report missing pets to local veterinary clinics to ensure that the owner is there to find their dog.

“Sometimes people think a shelter is a bad place so they keep the pet, but not taking it to the shelter and giving the pet a chance to be reunited with the owner is problematic,” Martin says. Martin worked for nearly a decade at Salt Lake County Animal Services before becoming a member of Best Friends. “The pet’s owner could be watching the shelter on a daily basis. If you’re worried you should let the shelter know you are interested in the pet’s fate and would like to be informed if the owner isn’t able to claim the pet.”

People who see pets conclude that the pet’s owners didn’t give the animal proper attention or didn’t offer a suitable home. They are enticed to hold the pet as a pet or even attempt to relocate the animal to a new family. This reasoning is only sometimes fair and often far from the truth.

“It could have not been that person’s fault at all, and they deserve to have their pet back,” Martin says. “I know that comes from a place of good intentions but in most places, it’s not legal to just keep them or try to rehome them.”

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