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Lost Dog Action List

A Windows Word version of this list is available --> Lostdog.doc (26.5KB)
For more tips on what to do if your dog becomes lost, please visit this website--> Petfinder: How to find your lost dog

The first 24 to 48 hours that a dog is missing, the owner needs to be very actively involved in the search. After that time period, because of the distance a lost dog can travel, owners will be relying more on the help of others.

  1. Have on hand good pictures of your dog that reflect his/her present appearance. These are not to be the cute pictures - rather ones to help in an identification. Hopefully, they will never be needed.
  2. Mobilize all available help (family, neighbors, dog club members, etc) and assign tasks to each. Enlist their help if they do not offer.. There is so much to be done and you will have to make decisions on where your time can best be spent. While you are out searching, it would be very helpful if a friend were calling the shelters. You can not be doing both at the same time.
  3. Drive or walk through the area where the dog was lost calling the dog. Have 2 people in the car: one driving and one looking. Be cautious calling for the dog at busy intersections. Your dog may try to cross the street to get to you.
  4. Notify all residents of the immediate area to be on the lookout for the dog.
  5. If your dog is friendly to strangers, check parks and schools. If it is shy, look for places that might provide instinctual seclusion. If your dog has a canine buddy, take the buddy along on your searches (weather permitting).
  6. Take a cell phone with you while searching. A group of searchers can use them to stay in touch with each other and a lone searcher can use it to call home for any messages about a sighting. (If you do not have an answering machine, buy one. You will need it to capture any reported sightings while you are away from home).
  7. Notify shelters, animal control, Vet offices, and police departments in the area where the dog was lost. In rural areas, you might also add the Sheriff's office, highway patrol, the game warden, park rangers, and hunting/gun clubs.
  8. Put your dog's crate where it was last seen. Leave some article of clothing bearing your scent in it. A tape of your voice played from dusk on might be reassuring and lure your furbaby to the safety of its crate. Leave a gate open at home in case the dog returns on its own.
  9. Make up flyers to be posted and small versions to be handed out. The large ones need to be attention drawing; the smaller ones can contain a lot more information as they will be viewed close-up.
  10. Place ads in all the large and small local newspapers. Some radio and TV stations will broadcast news about missing pets. Offer a reward, unspecified amount, for any information leading to the dog's recovery.
  11. Pass out the flyers to utility repair men, postal workers, school crossing guards, police offices, children and people walking dogs that you see. Notifying the police department does not mean that the patrol officers are aware that your dog is missing. It just means they have your report on file in case a found dog is reported to them. In an urban setting, cab and bus drivers might help in your search.
  12. Notify local dog clubs and e-mail dog subscriber lists.
  13. Do not dismiss any leads, no matter how remote they seem. However, keep your safety in mind when meeting anyone who says they spotted your dog or has it.
  14. If your dog is spotted, put out smelly food such as canned salmon.
  15. Find out if there is a tracking club in your area. They may or may not be willing to help. If they are, they would have a better chance of success if the trail were fairly fresh.
  16. If there are bridle trails near the area where your dog is, notify any riding stables that are close by. Riders on horses can see a lot of movement on the ground that you might not be able to see otherwise.
  17. If your dog is not found within several days or a week, expand your search area. Lost dogs have been found months later as far as 300 miles from home.
  18. Notify organizations that alert laboratories using animals for experiments, giving a description and a tattoo or microchip number.
  19. If you recover your dog, do not express anger but greet it enthusiastically. Have a treat ready to give it.