When you realize your dog has become lost or stolen, it’s vital that you begin to search for him right away. Even if he’s just slipped the gate and is known to come home by himself he may get into a fight with another animal, become a traffic victim, be picked up by strangers or dogcatchers, or even stolen by professional dog thieves. Your lost or stolen dog may be lucky enough to be turned into a local animal shelter or listed as “found” in classified newspaper ads, but many dogs aren’t so fortunate.
The heartache of not knowing where your missing dog is can be unbearable, but by keeping your wits about you and following the tips in this article you have a better chance of finding your lost or stolen dog and having him returned to you.
First, be sure your dog is actually missing. Make a quick, but thorough, search of your home and yard. Your dog might just be enjoying a peaceful nap in a secluded spot and choosing not to respond to your call. Check all his favorite napping places, and other less obvious sleeping spots he might have found. He may have found a cozy den under your bed or been drawn to the cooler air under the porch.
Notify local authorities at once when you’re sure your dog is missing. Call the local police department, street department, animal shelters, animal rescue organizations, and veterinarians with a description of your lost or stolen dog. Follow your call with a “missing dog” FAX with a complete description and pictures of your dog.
Search the neighborhood. Walk or drive around the area, calling for your dog. A sing-song voice is most effective when calling a missing dog. Shouting harshly for your dog may cause him to think he’s in trouble and he’ll want to avoid you, fearing punishment. Enlist the help of others to cover the area in less time.
Contact the local media. Let your local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers know about your lost or stolen dog. Ask them to pass the information on to the general public.
Check for videotaped evidence. If your dog was stolen from a public place, such as a store or parking lot, security cameras may have caught the theft.
Post flyers. Tack “missing dog” flyers on community bulletin boards in supermarkets, laundromats, libraries, and other busy public places.
Visit animal shelters in person. Your lost or stolen dog may be dirty, matted and emaciated before he gets to an animal shelter. The employees may not be able to recognize him from the information or pictures you provided. Visit the shelters every couple of days to make sure that your missing dog wasn’t overlooked.
Expand your search area. Your missing dog may wander many miles from home before it is found, or could be picked up by a traveler who may leave the dog at a shelter closer to his own home.
Use online resources. Register with lost-and-found pet database web sites, and browse sites that offer dogs for sale. Stolen pure breed dogs are often sold over the internet.