What to Do if You Lose Your Dog

By Molly Kenefick, Doggy Lama Pet Care, Dog walking company in Oakland, California
Visit website: http://www.doggylamapetcare.com

I hate to think about anyone ever losing their pet, but it happens all the time. If you ever do lose your dog, don’t just contact the shelter that’s closest to you. A panicked dog can cover dozens of miles in a couple days; a well-intentioned (or not) person can pick up your dog close to your house and then drive it somewhere else and lose it there.

Contact ALL area shelters if you lose your dog. You should fill out a “lost report” and have a flyer with a color reproduction of your dog that you can leave with all the shelters. (BTW, have at least one color photo of your dog on your laptop, PDA, or a print handy at all times. Make sure you have access to it when you’re outside as well as in your home. If you lose your dog when you go to Tahoe for the weekend, you will want to make sure you have a photo with you.) Some shelters will take information over the phone, but most will want you to come in and fill out the lost report in person. It’s a good idea to go there yourself (or send a responsible, organized friend). You wouldn’t want a harried city employee to make a mistake on the lost report. Go there and bring at least one color flyer for each shelter.

Always make sure your pet has up-to-date identification on him or her. If you move, make sure the microchip company has your new numbers, and always make sure your pet’s ID has your most recent phone numbers. If you go out of town, especially if you will be somewhere where you might not have cell phone reception, make a temporary ID tag with the contact info of your friend or pet-sitter on it. (Doggy Lama has over 100 ID tags on the collars of all our dog walking clients. We’re the back-up in case one of our client dogs gets lost at any time, even when the dog is not with us. In fact, we have gotten about a dozen calls for lost dogs wearing our tags; all the calls were for dogs who got out of their yards at home or away from their owners!)

Not only days, but hours count, when you are looking for your dog. Some shelters only keep found animals for a few days during which an owner can claim its pet before it is euthanized. Shelters have varying days and hours that they are open and you can claim your pet. Another reason to go “all-out” trying to find your dog, is that animal shelters are dangerous places for the animals inside. If your dog is inside an animal shelter, he or she will be safe from being hit by a car, but he or she will be surrounded by other stressed-out pets, some of whom are unhealthy and not up-to-date on their vaccinations. Stress will reduce your pet’s immune system, making him or her more at risk for getting sick (kennel cough is frequently passed in animal shelters). If your dog was injured before being brought to the shelter, he or she will probably not get the top-notch veterinary care you would pay for. Get your pup out of the shelter ASAP.

Other suggestions:

  • Put an entry on Craigslist in the Pets category. You can upload your dog’s photo to the listing.
  • Put up color flyers with the date on them at area dog runs and trail headings.
  • Attach flyers to telephone poles, in the grocery store, at vet offices.
  • Enlist your friends to help you put out more flyers. You will be surprised at who is willing to help you—the most helpful person may not be your best friend, who’s busy with his kids, but the person you met in the grocery store who lost their dog a few months ago. Reach out to people—some people will amaze you at their generosity with their time and ideas.
  • Make a list of where you put the flyers up and take them down after you’ve reunited with your dog. If you don’t take them down, you will have people looking for your dog when they don’t need to, and it will distract from newer flyers going up about other pets who are missing.
  • If, after a week or two, you still don’t have your dog back, put up new color flyers that look a little different—mark them “Updated,” “Still Missing,” “Last Seen at Solano Ave. and Marin Ave,” etc.

If you lose your dog, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. If you have thoughts or suggestions about things I should add to this blog entry, please email me. Info@doggylamapetcare.com