One of the biggest nightmares ever for any pet owner is to wake up and find that their beloved pet has gone missing. There are many reasons why this can happen: someone in your home accidentally left the back door open, the dog escaped her leash or dug a hole under the fence, or she got distracted by some scent and wandered off to find its source. No matter the reason however, it definitely counts as something that you would never want to happen to you.
Once you discover that your dog is missing, the first thing you should do is keep calm. You definitely don’t want to panic, as the first few hours are crucial in preventing your dog from getting farther away from you. After you’re sure that your canine companion isn’t just pulling a regular game of hide and seek with you, get in touch with your friends and remember these tips:
- Devote as much time to finding your dog as possible. If you have anything planned for the next couple of days, it’s advisable to put them off for now or postpone them. The more time you set aside into finding your dog, the faster you’ll find her. But if you really can’t cancel your immediate activities, make sure that someone else can pick up the slack for you — friends, family, even volunteers — until you get back.
- Search your neighborhood from top to bottom. After your home, search your neighborhood from top to bottom. Bring along your dog’s picture and something that she is quite attached to, like her favorite toy, blanket, or the treats you’ve been feeding her. Call her name from time to time. Ask your neighbors if they’ve seen a dog that fits the description of your pet. Use a flashlight once it gets dark outside.
- Keep your mobile phone charged and by your side at all times. You need to make sure that you’re easy to get in touch with at all times, especially if the ‘missing pet’ ads that you may have already posted has your mobile phone number on it. If not, you might miss important leads to your dog’s location or updates from friends or family members who are helping you in the search.
- Make flyers and notices to let people know about your missing pet and how to contact you. Before heading out and asking people, make a poster with a clear, colored image of your dog, a short description of her appearance, and a list of items that might help people identify her, such as the custom martingale collar that she is wearing. Keep the poster simple and straight to the point. This makes it easier for people to see and remember what your dog looks like.
- Sign up for an automated service. There are automated services such as Find Toto or Lost My Doggie that you can use to automatically notify your neighbors through phone or mail about your missing pet. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re bothering them with these notifications; your canine companion’s welfare is at stake after all, and they’d do the same if their dogs were the ones missing.
- Check with animal shelters, rescue groups, and animal control agencies around your town. If your town has an active pet owner’s community and there are animal shelters and rescue groups nearby, then check with them first. There’s a chance that a Good Samaritan has found your dog and dropped her off with these organizations. Be sure to bring proof of ownership like papers, pictures, and certificates so you can quickly prove that you’re the dog’s owner in case she did end up in the shelter.
Above all else, remember: don’t give up. Always keep searching, always keep checking with the local authorities and animal shelters until you’re reunited with your canine companion. After all, your pet wouldn’t give up on you – shouldn’t you do the same?