Those who have lost a pet know devastating effects it can have on not only you but those around you. It is literally like a piece of your heart and soul have left you. You can’t think, eat, or even consider sleeping without your companion right by your side. First I’ll discuss some ways to keep your dog from becoming lost and then I’ll discuss ways to get your dog back.
How do you prevent a dog from going missing? If they want to go they’ll go right? WRONG. Dogs get lost for many reasons some of which include: weather; loud events; sexual frustration; new, scary surroundings; boredom; not properly enclosed; and out of curiosity. Any pet should be kept inside during thunderstorms, rain, and even the heat. Situations where dogs are susceptible to the weather and are uncomfortable and able to run–they will. Noisy events like a parade, fair, or fireworks cause extreme anxiety and again the dog will just want to get away from it. Neutered/spayed pets are much less likely to go missing than an intact male or female looking to breed. If you have recently relocated to a new neighborhood your dog should not be left alone in the yard until you are ABSOLUTELY sure a) they know their home and b) cannot jump fences or escape through faulty gates. Making sure your back yard is properly enclosed with proper fencing that is tall enough that your dog can’t jump it or dig under will increase your chances of never losing your pet. If my dog could jump a fence to get a bird or cat–he would.
There are also some things you can do when you get your pet and before they get lost are: micro-chipping; tattoo identification; register your pet with the Human Society of Canada; have routine rabies vaccines; and obtain a city license. Any way to attach a form of ID to your pet will make it way more likely that your pet will be returned to you in the event that it goes missing. Even if you only had your dog’s rabies tag on it’s collar that rabies tag will have a number that is specific to your dog, it may take longer for your dog to get back to you but its something.
Okay, so now your dog has flown the coop, what are you going to do? Some research has shown that when dogs are frightened they tend to run in a straight line. If you are lucky enough to get a tip or you see your dog take off, follow that line. Larger dogs are said to run like 8-10 km before resting. Go to google and draw a 8km radius around your house and start there. In this area are there: parks, schools, highways, etc? Dogs will tend go to the friendliest, quietest, calmest place they can find so if you see a place like this check there immediately! Would your dog rather run the highway or run in the park? Most likely the park. Is there someone in that area you walk to often? Or did you recently move from one place to another within the area? Dogs are also likely to visit places they have been to before as this place is familiar to them and comforting.Is there someone in your neighborhood that may have recognized your dog and taken him in? These people need to be phoned.
Okay you’re searched the area and you can’t find your dog. Someone may have picked your dog up at this point, get some friends involved and track down all the phone numbers to rescues/shelters/veterinarians/groomers etc in your area and give them a good description of your dog and if you have any ID values (microchip number, etc..) give it to them. Email or fax them a photo. If your dog is not at any of these locations we need to involve social media and make posters. Many dogs recently have been found with the help of facebook. Take your dogs photo, slap your phone number and REWARD on it and ask your friends to share, share, share. A good lost dog poster will be colourful, weather resistant(if possible), contain specific details about your pet (does it have a scar, tattoo, special markings, etc..) and again needs REWARD plastered on it in big bright letters. People need to know this dog is important to you and you want it back like yesterday. Get that poster printed, round up 10+ friends and spread out. By now you will have shown at least 1000 + people your dog’s photo. If in the first 24 hours your dog isn’t found DON’T GIVE UP! Take the next day off, gather more people and search that 8-10km radius again, if your dog is little it may not even have ran that far, but as you are on the move so is your dog so just because you checked somewhere 5 minutes ago doesn’t mean your dog won’t show up there. I should also mention that both the SPCA and Humane Society of Canada have mechanisms to help you find your dog. You can post in the SPCA lost classifieds (people will check there if they take in a stray) and the Humane Society will have people help you with your search (volunteers in rescues, etc). If after 48 hours your dog is still missing, place an ad in your local community papers and again in colour and “REWARD” plastered on it.
Continue searching, don’t give up. Keep that social media going, and try as hard as you can to stay calm. Chances are you will get the call that your pet has been found. Start checking websites/classifieds for “Found” posts.
Finally, your pet has come home–now what? DO NOT punish the dog for running away. Give the dog water (this is probably more important than food at this point). Take your dog to the vet to assess for any damage. Evaluate your home–how did the dog get out? Do you need to replace any windows/doors/locks/fencing/gates etc? Ask whoever returned your dog how they heard about your missing pet. This can be helpful in the event a friend or family member loses a pet and need help. Was it the newspaper ad, was it facebook posts, etc that brought your dog home.
Hopefully these tips will be found useful, and if you have any to ad please list them below!