If the statistics reported in the National Dog Registry are to be believed, there are about two million dogs lost each year in the United States and fewer than 60,000 are ever found. Thanks to the Internet though, pet owners are using whacky ways to finding them back. Nothing is more harrowing to a pet owner to find that his cat or dog is missing. The initial hours are crucial though as they can greatly increase your chances of finding the lost pet. So let us study some effective ways to find a missing dog or cat.
1. Wait for a day or two
Most dogs and cats have a way of finding their way back home. Even if you live near the woods, your dog or cat can track the scents and come back. So, sometimes, it is best to wait for a day or two before contacting pet search-and-rescue organizations or websites. You can do a preliminary search yourself but always make sure that you give due importance to your own safety. Take the help of neighbors and friends in organizing the search. Unlike the case of missing persons, the chances of finding lost dog after 24 hours usually do not diminish; but that is subject to the area and other circumstances in which he/she was lost. Dogs and cats have been successfully found after weeks, months, and even years. So keep up the faith.
2. Get in touch with pet detectives or search-and-rescue professionals
Search-and-rescue professionals are trained in finding lost and missing dogs and cats. They understand lost pet behaviors and will know exactly how a missing cat or dog in trouble will behave. The rescuers will show you exactly where to search for missing pets in the woods and other areas. Pet detectives will not wander aimlessly in the wilderness; rather, they will have a plan in place and knowledge of behavioral patterns of lost pets. A simple Google search can help you get in touch with pet detectives near you. Always read reviews and find out how many cats or dogs s/he has rescued and reunited with their owners. Do ensure that your pet isn’t stolen since many of private pet detectives/agencies refuse to handle stolen pet cases.
3. Visit animal shelters nearby
Good Samaritans who rescue your dog or cat might have dropped off your pet to the local shelter. So visiting a couple of animal rescue shelters is the best way to find a lost dog or cat. Many rescue organizations also have their social media pages and websites where they update information about lost and found pets. So check their sites to find if there is an update about your missing dog or cat.
4. Use your pet’s microchip
Many rescue shelters use the dog’s or cat’s microchip to find their owners. It is always a good idea to microchip your puppy as soon as you bring him home from a breeder. The chip is inserted in the pet’s shoulder and it is a painless procedure that does not cause any allergic reaction in your pet. If your pet is lost, the shelter can scan the microchip to get the owner’s information. If you do not want to microchip your pet, at least use an identification tag with your phone number and dog’s name to get back your pet quickly in the event it goes missing.
5. Start a lost-dog campaign
Losing a dog or cat can be devastating but you must think with a clear head. The first few days after your pet goes missing are critical and you must act quickly. The best way to find a lost dog is to start a missing dog campaign. Call your friends and neighbors to help. Here are some things you will need:
- Recent photographs of your dog/cat
- Your contact numbers printed on strips on the bottom of the page
Paste the dog/cat’s photo on the paper. Write a brief description of your pet; be clear and give as many details as you can. Mention the name your pet responds to. Give details about any special features that can help identify the pet. Include your phone number in the description as well as on the bottom half of the page in strips so people can take one as needed. If you plan to give a reward, include the description of that as well. Make several copies of this flyer. You need enough copies to cover a distance of at least one mile in all directions from the area your pet went missing.
6. Go door-to-door
With your family, friends and neighbors’ help, distribute lost dog flyers from door-to-door. You can also tape-up the missing pet flyers in supermarket windows, local shops, libraries, and lamp-posts.
7. Seek help from local veterinarians
Use the telephone book to find local veterinarians in your town within a 5-mile radius. Fax them the photo and description of your pet. Even if they haven’t seen it themselves, they might have clients who may have.
8. Use the newspaper
Get your pet’s information and photographs printed in the local newspapers. This is an effective way to find a lost dog or cat.
9. Use missing dog websites
The Lost Dogs of America website can help you report lost pets and even find your missing pet. The site can guide you to Lost Dog websites in your own state. The site is full of useful information such as:
- Places where you can and cannot post your missing-dog flyers
- Lost dog strategies
- Recovery stories
10. Use social media
Many social media groups and resources exist on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These are often free of cost and report lost and found or missing pets. NextDoor is another great way to spread information and news about a lost dog or cat locally.
11. Understand that dogs change if they are missing for long
As a well-meaning pet owner, you must understand that some pets change drastically after their traumatic experience in the wild. Many dogs even run away from their rescuers. If your dog has been missing in the woods at night for several days, the light and noise made by search-rescue teams can actually frighten him and cause him to bolt into the traffic. Some dogs even become feral and aggressive after weeks of scavenging trash cans for food and avoiding predators. Many fail to recognize their owners. This can be alarming to pet owners. So work patiently and seek help of experienced canine rescue professionals. Things do not always come to that and you must keep a positive mindset about finding your lost dog. Good luck!