Sunday, August 14, 2011

You can never be too prepared if your dog goes missing!

It’s very stressful and upsetting when your dog goes missing, but worrying won’t help get your dog home.  If your dog is missing, they are likely trying to find their way back home, so act fast.
There are quite a few things you can do beforehand to make sure you’re prepared if your dog ever does go missing.  The two most important things you can do is
1) make sure your dog is microchipped, and
2) make sure they wear an ID tag at all times. 
If he/she is taken to a vet’s office or animal shelter, they'll be scanned for a microchip.  If your dog has this, your contact information will be revealed after the quick scan.  For the ID tag, it should include your name, telephone number and email address (the dog’s name isn’t necessary). Another tip is to have a tag that says “Needs meds, please call” followed by your phone number. Even if it isn’t true, someone who might NOT be intending to return your dog might not be keen on taking a dog with health issues. “Reward if found” works well too! All dogs need to wear ID tags…a simple thing like this could help the two of you reunite if your canine buddy suddenly disappears.

If your dog does happen to go missing, act quickly and follow these 10 steps to get your dog back home safely:

1. Don’t panic!  Think long and hard about when you last saw your dog.  Look throughout your home and yard.

2. Spend about 15 minutes calmly but forcefully calling and whistling for your dog.  If you do it in a panicky voice, your dog may not recognize it and may not respond.

3. If your dog isn’t in your home or yard, gather his leash and some treats and head out to search for him.  Go door to door with a photo, asking your neighbors if they’ve seen him.  It’s not unusual for a dog to hide out in a neighbor’s garden or garage.

4. If your dog is microchipped, contact the company to let them know your dog is missing.  Always make sure your contact information is up to date.

5. Contact local vet offices and animal shelters to give them your dog’s description to see if he’s been dropped off.  If your dog hasn’t been dropped off, be sure they have your contact information so they can contact you if a dog that matches your dog’s description is dropped off.

6. Post flyers all over your neighborhood and city.  You can post flyers at places such as animal shelters, vet offices, pet shops, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, grocery stores, etc.  Make sure to include your dog’s name on the flyer, as well as any important information.  The contact information should include your name, telephone number and email address.  A photo of your dog will also be helpful.

7. If your dog is enrolled in a healthcare plan, contact the insurance company to let them know your dog has gone missing.  They may be able to provide financial assistance (pay for flyers, reward, etc.) to help get your dog home.

8. Put an old t-shirt on the outside of your home.  More than likely your dog is still nearby and if he recognizes a familiar scent, it’ll be much easier for him to find his way back.  If it’s recently rained or snowed, your dog may become lost.  The smell of a family member’s t-shirt may help put your dog on the right track and lead him back home.

9. Place a ‘lost dog’ ad in the newspaper as soon as your dog goes missing.  Check the column daily to see if anyone has found your dog.  Also, there are many websites where you can place a ‘lost dog’ ad.

10. Offer a reward.  Most dog lovers will return a dog without wanting anything in return.  However, a reward is a great motivator for people to look for your dog.  When offering a reward, beware of scammers.  Some people will call and claim they have found your dog, but they haven’t and they plan to rob you when the two of you meet because they know you’ll have the reward money.  So, even if the description they give you sounds exactly like your dog, never meet anyone alone or at their home.  Always take someone with you and meet in a public place.

Although most of us will likely never need to worry about this, it's better to be safe than sorry.  Be prepared!