One of the most frightening things a dog owner can experience is when one of their dogs is suddenly missing. Trying to remember all the things they should do is difficult in the stress of the moment. Here is a list that may help. It was compiled by Sidney Boardman (Director of the USDA Missing Pet Network and owner of SAMFANS).
1. Make a flier with your dog’s photo, the words LOST DOG, and your phone number, and take a pile and go knock on on doors in the neighborhood and talk to people. If you don’t find her, later you can make up a flier with a clear photo, a phone number, and a short description, for example “LOST White fuzzy 3 year old dog, tail usually held over back, dog is microchipped. REWARD for information leading to his return home. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx any time day or night.” Don’t use a show type photo of her in your fliers or anywhere else. You don’t want people looking for a show dog they think is worth bucks. You want them looking for a beloved lost dog.
Leave a copy of the flier at each house. If you don’t have a picture of your dog, find a picture that shows the breed. If the dog was microchipped, say that he is identifiable but don’t include the chip number. If some kid picked him up and took him home, her parents need to know this was NOT a stray and she can’t keep him no matter how much she LUUUVVs him and cries.
2. Then go check ALL the local shelters. Physically go to the shelters. Don’t bother calling. Go to all the shelters. People will drop a dog off at the shelter on the way to work, so you can’t guess where they may take the dog. Fill out a lost pet report at every shelter you go to but don’t expect them to call you if your dog does happen to show up.
3. Put an ad in the newspaper. If there’s more than one paper, put an ad in all of them. Give copies of your flier to your postman. Go to the police station and file a police report for lost or stolen property. Insist the police take the report. Tell them your insurance company requires a police report before you can file a claim if you have to.
4. Now go back to your neighborhood and talk to everyone you didn’t talk to before. If people have seen your dog, you can track which direction he may have gone in. You can also start posting fliers in the area, but don’t stop knocking on doors and talking to people.
5. Go to the stores, restaurants and gas stations people in your neighborhood frequent and ask them to post your flier. Ask groceries if they will also post the flier in the dog food aisle. Other pet owners are more likely to notice your dog than anyone else.
6. Contact every vet in the area, and also groomers and pet supply stores. Take or mail them a flier.
7. Don’t give up. Keep looking. Keep going to shelters. Ask the shelter how to check the dead list. (Most people feel it’s better to know. That includes children – they’re usually better off knowing what happened.)
People who find a dog often keep it a few days and then give it to a friend or co-worker, who may take a few days before they realize the dog is too much for them, and then take it to a shelter. Keep looking.
More advice is available at the Missing Pet Network at http://missingpet.net/