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Searching for a lost dog: Tips and ideas to help

Maya has been missing since Christmas night. Have you seen her?
Elahe Golpari, Maya's owner

One of the worst feelings a pet owner will ever have is the sudden realization that their pet is missing or has been stolen. It is happening more and more these days. Just take a look through Facebook and you will see post after post of missing pets. When your pet goes missing, time is of the essence in the search. This list of tips will hopefully save you some time.

Try to Stay Calm

Staying calm might seem like an absurd statement, but trying to stay calm will help you find your pet much faster. Start from where you first noticed the pet missing and search everywhere. Call in friends and family to help. Ask neighbors for assistance if possible. Get the help of anyone that knows what your dog looks like.

If a local search turns up nothing, you’ll have to spread out to other areas. Always have recent photographs of your dog on hand, a list of important information, such as micro-chip number, any medical issues, any distinguishing markings and anything that would make your dog unique or that would stand out. Keep this all in a file folder with the hope that you will never need it.

Steps to Take

Use Facebook: Get a page up as soon as possible. If you are too upset, or are still out searching, ask a friend that knows your dog well to do it. Post a picture, a full description and where your dog was last seen and then share that page to as many lost dog groups as you can find.

Make Flyers: Use the photo and information in your dog file to make flyers. You can quickly print them out on your computer or have many of them made at a copy shop. Be sure to post the flyer on your lost dog page and your personal Facebook page. Ask people to print and distribute it in your area.

Make Phone Calls: Notify as many agencies as you can think of that are in the area that your dog became lost. This list should include shelters, vets, dog groomers, animal control, the police department, city utilities, radio stations and newspapers. If the dog went missing from your home, make sure the mail carrier has a flyer and also any delivery drivers that work in your area.

Have Helpers: You will soon become overwhelmed with worry and the search for your missing dog. Ask for help and designate certain responsibilities. You will soon get an overwhelming amount of photos sent to the dog’s lost page or your email from people trying to help. Have a trusted friend that knows your dog well sort through them for you.

They should only ask you to view ones that they believe could be a good match. If the photo of the dog is from before your dog went missing there is no reason for you to take up your time to look at it. If the information states the dog is female and yours is a male, it’s obviously not yours. A friend who weeds out all of the “absolutely not photos” can save you valuable time.

Check All “Maybe” Photos: This is especially important if the dog has been missing awhile. The dog’s weight could have changes, or his hair could have gotten longer or been groomed shorter. If you can’t go to see the dog in person, call whoever has the dog and ask some key questions to help you decide if the dog could be yours. Remember too that photograph lighting can make a dog’s fur ad coloring look different.

Ask whoever has the dog to say your name or any nick names you have called your dog. Even ask them to put the phone receiver close to the dog to see how she reacts to your voice. If the dog is in a shelter or rescue facility they will help all they can to determine if it is your dog. Ask for more photos or to check for certain things…I.E. skin markings, scars, and even eating habits. Does your dog spit out a slice of banana? Does he scarf down green beans? All these could be keys to determining if this might be your dog before you make the drive to go see in person.

Never Give Up: When days and months pass by you will get very discouraged. Continue your search and keep the dog’s Facebook page active. There have been many cases of dogs returning home months and even years after they went missing. If you happen to move at any time after the dog went missing, return to your old neighborhood and talk to neighbors, handing out flyers over and over. You just never know when someone will say, “Hey I saw him!”