Can’t find your furry friend? Don’t despair. Here’s how to plan your search and get the word out quickly to others:
“Sometimes people think their dog will come home on its own, and they wait too long to start searching,” says Vicki Stevens of The Humane Society of the United States. “You need to start looking in your neighborhood right away.”
Start by knocking on your neighbors’ doors and asking if you can check their yards. Then canvass a mile or two around your home — many dogs can cover a large distance in a short time, Stevens notes. Enlist family and friends to help with the search. If your pet has favorite spots — a dog park or a pooch pal’s house, for instance — check those locations first, she recommends.
Distribute and post brightly colored flyers in your community as soon as possible after you notice your dog is missing. “Keep it simple,” Stevens says. “Put ‘LOST DOG’ in big, thick, bold letters. Include a photo of your pet.” List your phone number and/or email address on the flyer, but don’t include your name or address in order to help protect your privacy, Stevens recommends. Post flyers at eye level so they’re easier for pedestrians to notice and read. Also, make sure you post any sign in accordance with the rules of your local area. She also recommends pinning them on bulletin boards at local supermarkets and pet stores and dropping them off at community centers and veterinary clinics.
Promptly post an alert and a photo of your lost dog on the social media outlets you use. “It’s such a quick way to get the word out,” Stevens says. In addition to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, don’t forget sites like Nextdoor and EveryBlock, networks some neighborhoods use to share news among residents.
Next, you may want to do an online search for the pages of local animal rescue groups and shelters as well as any local municipalities that post “lost pet” listings, Stevens says. Post your own listing and then scroll through their “found” listings, too. Also consider spreading the word on lost-and-found databases, such as The Center for Lost Pets.
If possible, make an in-person visit to your nearest animal shelter rather than just a phone call, Stevens says. “What the person on the phone hears may be different than the description you’re saying,” she explains.
At the shelter, request to see dogs that are in the kennels and dogs that are in the infirmary. Try to return every other day to check for new arrivals, The Center for Lost Pets suggests.
If days go by with no reunion, consider purchasing a newspaper ad, the center recommends, and check with animal shelters, police departments and veterinarians in a wider radius. Some pet owners even hire a professional pet-finding service, Stevens notes. This may help speed along your search, since a pro can dedicate their time to finding your pet, whereas you may only be able to search during off-work hours, Stevens adds.
Hopefully you’re able to find Fido soon. If and when your dog is recovered, Stevens says consider these additional steps:
All these steps may help prevent — or shorten — another escape and keep your pet safely at home sweet home.