No one ever likes to think that one day their dog might go missing. However, it provides a great deal of peace of mind should that day ever come, if you've had the forethought to: have him microchipped and/or tattooed (and have the chip/tattoo registered with the AKC's Companion Animal Recovery service), have a tag on his collar with your name and address, and have recent, full body photos of him that you can use to make signs to post. Here are steps you should take in order to ensure his recovery. Post your signs on Post Office and veterinarian bulletin boards, on phone poles and in other public areas within a three to five mile radius of where the dog was last seen. Enlist the help of friends and family to help you search. The sooner a widespread search is begun after the dog is lost, the faster he is likely to be found.
Alert your local animal shelters, dog pounds, rescue programs, veterinarians, dog groomers, police and neighbors. Ask the shelters if they scan for microchips. Be aware that many shelter workers do not really recognize breed types ... they very likely could have your dog and not recognize him by your verbal description. It is always wisest to visit the shelter and see for yourself, particularly if your dog is of a type that is likely to be mislabeled. Border Collies, Australian and English Shepherds are frequently confused as are many Sporting breeds.
Create flyers and distribute them EVERYWHERE. Prominently feature your dog's photograph and the approximate area in which he went missing. Place the word REWARD in large letters beneath the photo. If you've reason to believe your dog was stolen, add, "No Questions Asked!" Remember, your goal is to get your dog back. Make sure your contact info is clearly visible. Make a fringe at the bottom of your signs with your name and number so that people can tear off your info for later, in case they see your dog. Go door to door in the area where the dog was lost, handing out your flyers. Talk to children. Children often notice dogs more readily than do adults.
I've lost count of how many times members of my local kennel club have notified one another about missing dogs, and gathered to help someone look for their dog. Dog people understand, and know how to approach a frightened or runaway dog. Ask your local dog clubs to distribute your lost dog flyers and info to their membership.
Most local newspapers will post lost and found ads for free. Post your lost ad, but don't forget to read the found ads as well. Also, there is a plethora of websites that are devoted to listing lost and found dogs. Google these and post there. Find Toto is worth mentioning ... for fee, they will send out a phone alert to hundreds, even thousands of your neighbors at once. Pet Amber Alert has a similar plan, and claims a 70% success rate if the alert goes out within an hour of when the dog went missing.
Don't neglect going door to door. Its been my experience that when others see your commitment and sense the urgency, they do become more watchful, and tell others. I've seen many dogs reunited with their owners simply because the owner did not give up, and by talking with enough people, eventually reached the ones who had found the dog nosing around their trash and taken him in.
When you find your dog, take the time to notify the major organizations you had contacted when the dog was lost and let them know he has been found!
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