What to Do if You've Lost a Pet?by Beth Williams
Dogs can wander off and become lost in a moment's time. Fortunately, the majority of lost dogs are recovered and safely reunited with their families: The ASPCA conducted a national survey in 2012 that asked dog owners if they had lost their dogs at any time during the previous five years. The results revealed that 93 percent of dog owners who had a dog go missing, eventually recovered their dogs. The key to finding your missing dog is to be proactive from the minute you realize he's gone.
Immediately Search Your Neighborhood
Recruit family members and friends to start searching your neighborhood right away. In many cases, you won't quickly find your dog. Talk with neighbors who may have seen your dog or who may be able to help you spread the word that your dog is missing. Provide your neighbors with your phone number, if they don't already have it, and ask that they tell others that your dog is missing.
Contact All Local Animal Shelters
Call all of the animal shelters within 60 miles of your home, the Humane Society of the United States website advises. Dogs can often wander far from home, so the more animal shelters you call the better your chances are of quickly bringing your beloved dog home. If possible, email or take a recent photograph of your dog to each of the animal shelters to make it easier for staff to identify your dog if he is brought to the shelter.
Hang Flyers in Your Neighborhood
Create flyers that you can distribute throughout your neighborhood. Flyers can be valuable tools in quickly recovering your dog. Choose a high-quality photo of your dog for the center of the flyer. Petfinder.com recommends including such information as your dog's name and gender, where he was last seen, your name and your phone number. Hang the flyers all around your neighborhood, including on telephone poles and neighbors' doors, and hand them out to passersby. Grocery stores, pet stores, libraries and other stores often have bulletin boards on which you can post your flier. Ask local businesses if you can post the flyers in their windows.
Visit Your Local Animal Shelters Each Day
Go to as many animal shelters as you can each day to see if your dog has been checked in. Lost dogs arrive in animal shelters daily. Most animal shelters are incredibly busy. Your dog may have come in and been overlooked. Animal shelters typically have hold periods for dogs. How long each shelter's hold period is depends on your state's laws. After that hold period, the lost dog may be put up for adoption or, in some shelters, may be euthanized.
- The Humane Society of the United States: What to Do if You Lost Your Pet
- Petfinder: What to Do if Your Dog Is Lost
- Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection, Roanoke, Virginia: Your Pet Is Lost. Now What?
- Michigan Humane Society: Finding a Lost or Missing Pet
- ASPCA: How Many Pets are Lost? How Many Find Their Way Home? ASPCA Survey Has Answers
- Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images