10 Things To Do If Your Dog Is Missing
Welcome to my new blog. Today I'd like to talk about dogs, and specifically what to do if your dog is missing. Whether your dog slipped out through the back gate by him or herself or was stolen, the initial steps to take are similar.
1. Don't panic.
No one knows better than me how important our dogs are to us. However, if you lose your mind at this stage and scream from the roof, that will not help you find Fido--at least not at this stage. You need to be calm because you have a lot of work to do. If you can't keep your wits about you, then call a friend who can help you.
2. Contact the microchip registry
Whatever company your dog's microchip is registered with, you need to call them right away. Let them know that your dog is lost or stolen. This is a very important step. Your best chance of getting your dog back is with the microchip. Let me repeat that. The single most important factor in recovering a lost dog is whether or not he or she has a microchip.
Your dog isn't microchipped. Oh, that's bad. I'm going to assume it's because your dog is just too young, and not because you're stupid, negligent, or cheap. BEFORE YOUR DOG IS LOST OR STOLEN, GET THY ASS TO THE VET FOR A MICROCHIP. You have no excuse not to. Many shelters and rescues will do it very inexpensively. If you can't afford a microchip, then you can't afford a dog. Call around. Contact someone you know who is active in rescue (like me) or any random rescuer and ask where is the closest place and cheapest way to get a microchip.
So let's assume your dog has a microchip. If he or she is turned in to a shelter or caught by a dog catcher or examined by a clever vet, he will get scanned and the company issuing the chip will get called. If you've called the company first, then your dog is "flagged" as lost or stolen. I cannot overemphasize the chip's importance.
3. Contact local lost dog orgs
Contact any "lost dog" organizations in your geographical area. Let me give you an example. Where I live on Vancouver Island, there is an org on Facebook called FLED--Find Lost and Escaped Dogs on Vancouver Island. People like this can be an enormous help. They can blanket social media with a call to action. They often have ties to folks with search and rescue (scent) dogs who will actually go out and try to sniff out your dog. Be prepared to pay for this option.
This leads me to number 4. If you have more than one of these local or state or county organizations, contact a couple of them now, and then do the rest of the steps. You can always contact more later. Note carefully who you contacted, when you contacted them, and how you contacted them.
4. Make up a small email and social media friendly flyer
Your flyer needs to contain the following information:
- One or two clear photos.
- Description of dog with breed if there is one. Height and weight and sex and spayed or neutered.
- When they went missing.
- Where they went missing.
- Dog's name.
- Who to contact.
- How to contact them.
- Is there a reward.
You don't know how? No problem. There are some terrific organizations that will do this for you if you give them the information. On Facebook, there's R.O.M.P. Return Our Missing Pets, an example of an org that will help you. A group like ROMP will mobilize an army of folks to help.
5. Make a real flyer for you to hand out locally
Make a flyer with the same information that you put on the email friendly one, but suitable for 8 1/2" X 11" paper. Print off at least 20-30 to start. Get a few folks to help you walk around the neighborhood where the dog went missing. Knock on doors. Tack or tape up posters nearby and at vet clinics and coffee shops. Plaster your area with them. Very often a lost dog is with a neighbor, so start here.
6. Contact the local shelters or SPCA's
Contact the local shelters or SPCA's, but you may have to go in person the next day and actually look at the animals. Every one of these places is run differently so follow their rules. You're going to be upset, but don't make everyone mad everywhere you go. You NEED these folks, so make friends with them. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Take a box of doughnuts if you have to.
7. Fill out a police report.
How much help you'll get from the police varies. It also depends--like most things in life--on who you know and where you live. There is no doubt that a lot of activity on social media can greatly increase your chances of getting help from the police in the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" scenario. So it's important to try to make as much noise as you can and enlist others to help, but try not to make a bunch of enemies. Again you need their help. See #6.
8. Contact any local breed specific rescues
If you dog is purebred, contact a local breed specific rescue and let them know. Some of these folks have big followings on social media and can be a big help. They have contacts, resources, and experience. Even if your dog isn't purebred, contact them anyway. Most dog rescue people are very well connected with other dog rescue people, and they are all dog lovers. They can offer support and wisdom.
9. Place an ad in any online buy/sell websites that you've lost your dog.
Also keep on eye on these publications for advertisements potentially selling your dog. Yeah, you read that right. If your dog was stolen, there's a good chance someone will try to sell him fast.
10. Rinse and repeat
Never give up. Every day there are stories of dogs being reunited with owners months and years and sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away from where they went missing, often because of a microchip. You never know.
These 10 points are a good starting point. They don't outline everything possible in the universe, but if you implement these things, you have a fighting chance. But first, before your dog goes missing, get him or her a microchip. Right away. Like yesterday.
I'm going to summarize this here below, so you can print it out and put it on your fridge:
MY DOG IS LOST
- Don't panic
- Contact microchip registry
- Contact local lost dog orgs
- Make a mini flyer for the internet
- Make an 8 1/2" X 11" flyer
- Contact local shelters
- Do a police report if you suspect your dog is stolen
- Contact local breed specific rescues
- Place an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji
- Don't give up. Ever.
Always remember that the kindest thing you can do for someone who blogs is share their content on social media if you think it's any good. Godspeed.