I just recently lost and found my seven month old Golden Retriever puppy. She got out of our yard on a Monday night and was successfully returned on the following Sunday which just happened to be Easter Sunday (yes, God’s timing does exist).
I found a lot of different resources and met new friends along the way so I wanted to share some of my knowledge to hopefully help someone else find their dog. Please keep in mind that I live in Elizabeth, Colorado so some of the organizations might be different in your area.
Start Searching the Moment You Notice Your Dog Missing
- Walk the routes that you consistently walk with your pet (mine was spotted many times along our regular walking route) calling out in a nice voice.
- Take your kids, other dog(s), treats, toys, and a leash in case you find them.
- Get reinforcements – if you have family or friends in the area ask them to help.
- Go door to door at your neighbors’ houses. Tell them how important your dog is to you (if they don’t already know) and if you have a recent picture on your cell phone, show them the picture.
If Searching Yields No Results – DON’T GIVE UP!
- Get on Craigslist and Ebay Classifieds – put ads in both the pet sections and the lost/found sections. If you’re offering a reward include the word “Reward” – I didn’t include the amount. Also, check to see if anyone might have found your dog and posted a found report or maybe, and I hate to even say this but, check the people that are selling dogs that have a similar description to yours. If you contact them, act like you’re an interested buyer – not an accusatory owner.
- Call all the local authorities: Police, Sheriff, Park Rangers, Veterinarians (Leave messages on their machines if it’s after hours and call back in the morning), and Shelters.
- Put in reports where you can with a description of your dog and your contact information (Police, Sheriff, Shelters, Veterinarians, Kennels, Etc.)
- Put it on social media – find local rescue organizations and ask them to share a picture and information. If your dog is a certain breed, check for organizations dedicated to that breed. And ASK PEOPLE TO SHARE OR RETWEET. That’s huge because some people might not even think to share it but if you ask, they might be more willing to do it! Because of people sharing my post, I found out that a local government official received phone calls from Wyoming telling him to look for my dog.
- Create Posters – I find simpler is better. My poster was relatively simple as you can see:
- Put posters everywhere you can – on stop sign posts at local intersections, at coffee shops, pet groomer, pet stores, veterinarians, police departments, sheriff’s offices, grocery stores, post offices, feed stores, gas stations (on each pump if they’ll let you), restaurants, schools, and any other business in your area that will allow it. Keep a record of places you go – you’ll want to make sure to take them all down once you have found your dog.
- I made mini posters with a small treat bag and two dog treats enclosed to hand out to anyone I saw walking or to neighbors that I talked to.
- Expect some pushback, expect some naysayers, brush them off and DON’T GIVE UP HOPE.
- List your dog as lost on some or all of these websites or ones that are more relevant to your individual search area: www.petharbor.com, www.fidofinder.com, www.lostmydoggie.com, www.lostadog.com, www.lostdogsdenver.com, www.petamberalert.com – paying for an amber alert where they call people in your area and send out flyers to various pet-related businesses in the area is well worth your money, in my opinion.
- Keep posting on craigslist – every. single. day.
- If there are sightings in the area, go there and hang out or camp out if you can. Have treats, toys, food bowls (to make the sound of their feeding time), and other goodies to lure them in.
- Leave a crate or a dog door open in case your dog comes home. I left our dog door and gate open almost 24 hours a day (with the other dog secured) just in case she found her way home.
- Pray – I know it sounds simple but I believe it was THE key factor in us finding our Mayzie, and on Easter Day nonetheless! Praise God!
Some Tips That I Received
- If you see your dog and it seems afraid of you, that’s normal, get down on your hands and knees and act like there’s something very interesting on the ground or even lay on the ground. Your dog may get curious and come over.
- People have a tendency to take a pet to their favorite shelter – not necessarily the closest shelter so check EVERYWHERE.
- Dogs typically don’t wander more than 5 miles from home, especially if they’re alone. A puppy is even less likely to go that far. And dogs rarely run in straight lines.
- Keep your veterinary records, pictures, and anything/everything you have to prove that it is, in fact, your dog with you at all times. Shelters will require this and any normal citizen will require some proof – as I would expect them to!
- Make your vehicle your command center – keep posters, tape, push pins, dog toys, a phone charger, dog treats, a leash and collar, etc. in your car. You never know when you might need them.
- If there has been a sighting, you may want to take a blanket or dog bed that the dog is familiar with (scented like home) and leave it in the area. Dogs’ primary sense is their sense of smell, so they may gravitate towards it and then you might find them there the next morning.
- If your dog is on a feeding schedule, going looking at that time of day is the best because they’re hungry. Searching while they’re probably sleeping or resting (at night or when it’s very hot outside) will likely not yield results.
- If your dog is gone long, make new posters with a different title like “Still Missing” or “Still Lost”.
- I put my second round of posters on card stock, inside plastic sleeves with the tops taped so they would withstand weather and wouldn’t curl around sign posts.
- Post an ad in the paper.
- Talk to everyone you can about your missing dog. The more eyes that are searching the better.
- Don’t give up hope. I spoke with a woman who lost her dog for 45 days before she was returned.
Prevention is the Way To Go
- Get your dog microchipped. This not only helps if someone finds your dog but it can help prevent theft as well as ruling out other dogs you may see on shelter pages that look similar to yours, but you’re not sure. I drove an hour in each direction of my house to follow up on possible dogs to find out they weren’t my Mayzie.
- Get a GPS tracker like the Tagg Tracker. Mine just came in the mail!
- Always make sure your dogs are up to date on their vaccinations.
- Give your dog things to do – they need a job to keep their minds busy whether it be training for some time before you go to work, playing fetch, or even leaving puzzle toys for them to use.
- Understand your dog’s abilities. I had no idea my dogs were capable of escaping my yard. Now, I’m very aware.
- Take lots of pictures. I take hundreds of pictures every day and I still had a hard time finding one that looked like my Mayzie. Instagram changes the color of pets. Don’t use an Instagramed picture on posters unless it really does look like your pet.
I hope this helps!
~ Thankfully Exhausted