It’s one of the most terrible events that could happen to a dog owner; one moment your dog is with you, the next they’ve disappeared. Of course it’s very stressful and upsetting when your pet goes missing, but there is also the added concern that your dog may be hurt or scared. If your dog has gone missing from your home, it’s highly likely that he won’t have gone very far. He may have wandered off to look for food, or to chase a passing cat, or even been spooked by the rumble of thunder or a loud noise nearby.
If you think he is in the local neighbourhood, spend a short while whistling and calling for him. Likewise, if you’re on your usual dog walk, call out for him, and stay alert, perhaps another dog walker has spotted him and is searching for you. If the nightmare continues, you’ve looked everywhere and still your dog hasn’t been sighted, then it’s time to alert others to the fact that your dog is missing.
The very first thing you should do is to put all your prior commitments on hold. Do whatever is necessary to make time to search for your missing pet – take time off from work, ask friends to pick up the kids, do whatever it takes!
Here is Finchley Dog Walker’s 15-step guide to give you the best chance of being reunited with your dog:
Step 1. Microchipping – This is one of the best ways to get your dog back. If your dog is microchipped then please make sure you keep your contact details up to date. If your dog is handed into the authorities, or someone attempts to change his microchip details, you can be informed. Remember that a dog’s collar with ID tag attached can come loose or be easily removed – a microchip wont. It is also the law to have your dog microchipped
Step 2. Whistle and call your dog – It is important that you spend at least 20 – 30 minutes calling your dog and whistling. Another important factor is not to show your panic and try and sound cheerful so your dog won’t be afraid to come back. Search the immediate area that you last saw your dog in a circular motion and slowly expand the circles before you eventually do leave. Give those who seem helpful and trustworthy your contact number or your vet’s number.
Step 3. Contact your neighbours – Ask your neighbours to keep an eye out for your missing dog – especially if he’s runoff from the house. Get them to check their gardens, sheds and conservatories.
Step 4. Pet Insurance – Make sure you contact your Pet Insurance Company – they may be able to help with advice on advertising and financial assistance.
Step 5. Poster– It is very important that you create a “lost” flyer with as much information about your dog as possible. Make sure you include a current photo, a physical description and anything distinguishing about him. Include your name and contact number details. Now go back to the area your dog was last seen and distribute the flyer through doors, fasten onto trees and fences and in surrounding areas.
Step 6. Local vets – Make contact with the local vets in the area, as many people will take a lost dog to the local vet. Ensure they have a copy of your flyer so they can put it on the noticeboard in the waiting room and they can keep an eye out for him too.
Step 7. Walk or cycle up and down the roads nearest the area your dog was last seen. People strolling or cycling nearby are another helpful resource for spotting your animal.
Step 8. Make sure you visit your local newsagents and community notice boards so that they can put up your lost dog poster.
Step 9. Contact the local council, dog warden, police and animal control authorities – give them a description and the time and area in which your dog was lost. They will be the ones who will be contacted if your pet has been in a car accident, for example, or if your dog is reported as a stray.
Step 10. Newspapers – Many local papers have a lost and found section. Place a ‘lost dog’ advert as soon as possible. If you have been walking some distance from your home, find the most appropriate local paper.
Step 11. Search national databases for lost pets – these are available on the Internet.
Step 12. Reward– If you can afford it or if you can get financial help from the insurance company then offer a reward for your dog’s safe return.
Step 13. Check local animal shelters and rescue homes. Lost animals will often be handed to the local animal shelter. Contact them to see how they can help locate your pet. It is important that you have information such as colour, age, size, temperament, identification on the dog (collar, tag, microchip, where the dog was lost), and your details to hand.
Step 14. Leave an item of your clothing in the area you last saw your dog – This can help if your dog comes looking for you as it will have your recognisable scent.
Step 15. Social Media – Use Social Media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as a tool to spread the word and give details of where your dog went missing, along with pictures and contact details. Ask people to ‘Share’ your post on Community Pages.
It’s very important that you also focus on yourself as the wear and tear and all this worry isn’t good for you. Try to keep doing the normal, routine things in your life. This will help you to stay focused and productive.
By raising awareness of your dog’s profile, and making him “too hot to handle” you have a much better chance of finding him. All being well, you will soon be reunited with your beloved pet.