Has Your Dog Gone Missing? Don’t Delay and Carefully Follow These 5 Steps

When a beloved family pet goes missing, it can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved, including the dog. Don’t panic, though. Follow these five simple steps to increase the likelihood of finding the pet and bringing him or her home safe and sound as soon as possible.

Step One: File a Lost Pet Report

As soon as the dog goes missing, pet owners should file a report with all animal shelters within a 60-mile radius. Provide the agencies with a recent photo and an accurate description of the animal, including his or her microchip number, if applicable, and whether the dog was wearing a collar when he or she disappeared. Those who believe someone may have stolen their dogs should also contact the police.

Step Two: Enlist Some Help

One person or family can only do so much to find a lost pet. Even if owners drive around their neighbourhoods all day, they’ll only incrementally increase their chances of finding the pet. It’s fine to ask friends or family members for help, but it’s even better to head to to hire a private investigator. These professionals know exactly what steps to take to increase pet owners’ chances of finding their animals as quickly as possible.

Step Three: Post Notices

Post lost pet notices across town. Ask grocery store owners, community center organizers, veterinary offices, and pet supply stores if they have bulletin boards, and place posters at traffic intersections. Pet owners can also place advertisements in local newspapers or even with radio stations and post ads on sites like Fido Finder.

Make sure the notices and advertisements include identifying information such as age, weight, breed, or markings, but leave out at least one identifying characteristic. If someone calls about the pet, ask the person who found the dog to describe that characteristic to confirm that it’s the same animal.

Step Four: Be Wary of Scams

It’s not uncommon for desperate pet owners to fall prey to pet recovery scams. That’s part of the reason dog owners need to omit at least one defining characteristic in advertisements. It’s also part of the reason why many pet owners feel more comfortable working with private investigators who can handle these transactions safely.

It’s especially important to exercise caution when offering a reward for the pet’s safe return. Never send money to anyone via wire transfer. When offering a return, confirm over the phone that it’s the right dog first, then meet in a public place and exchange money only after the pet has been returned.

Step Five: Expand the Search with Time

If the dog has been missing for a while, expand the search as time goes by. Don’t assume that a family pet will stay close to home. Want proof that it’s worth expanding the search area as time goes by? Just look at the example of Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who traveled at least 2,551 miles to find his family.

Step Six: Don’t Give Up

Even animals who have been missing for months are often reunited with their owners eventually. Don’t give up the search.

The Bottom Line

When family pets go missing, it creates stress for everyone. Don’t panic, though. Just follow the steps above to increase the chances of finding the animal safe and sound as quickly as possible.

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