What if your dog has gone missing?
This blog was prompted by multiple “missing animal” listings on my neighborhood network. What should you do if you turn around and your companion animal is missing? Have a plan. The first two parts of this blog discussed prevention and planning ahead in case of a missing pet. This third part covers steps to take if your animal has gone missing.
1. Immediately call your Animal Control Officer. If after hours, call the non-emergency police phone line, and give the information (location, where last seen, dog’s description), then follow up with ACO on the next business day.
2. Send out the word about your dog:
(a) Put up flyers in the area where your dog was last seen, with the current pictures of your dog;
(b) Notify your neighbors;
(c) Notify local neighborhood groups on Facebook, Nextdoor.com, etc.;
3. Request that people not chase dog, but call you immediately if there is a sighting.
4. Provide accurate contact information where you can be reached, and monitor that line consistently. Have a backup person who can knows your dog and can respond if you are unavailable at any time.
5. Contact local dog recovery groups and groups that post about missing dogs. In Connecticut where I live, there are several groups including:
CT Dog Gone Recovery Volunteer Group, with dedicated and knowledgeable
volunteers who are able to assist with searching for and securing frightened lost dogs.
CT Lost/Found Dog Group. This group shares the word and contact information.
What to do if you see a lost dog or a dog who appears to be lost:
These recommendations are adapted, with thanks and permission from, the CT Dog Gone Recovery Volunteer Network (https://www.facebook.com/CTDogGoneRecoveryVolunteers/):
Where did you see the dog? Note the exact location, with street number or any other precise identifying information. Report to the owner and the recovery group.
If possible, unobtrusively take a picture of the dog.
Do not call, whistle, approach or follow the dog. This may alarm the dog, who might run into traffic or further away out of the area.
Note what the dog is doing.
Call the lost dog's owner immediately if you have become aware of the lost dog’s identity on Facebook, through flyers, etc. If there is a dog recovery group working with the owner, also notify that group. If there is a dog recovery group or owner who have posted about the dog, do not put posts on Facebook, because other well-meaning individuals might try to approach the dog and frighten him out of the area.
If you sight a dog who you believe is lost, immediately contact the Animal Control Officer or non-emergency police line. The goal is to keep the dog calm and remain in the area while the owner, recovery group and/or ACO are notified.
Ask the owner before putting out any food in the area. Food may help a dog stay in the area; it might also undermine efforts if humane traps are already set for the dog or make the dog less likely to approach experienced recovery volunteers.
Try to keep the area quiet so that the dog will be likely to remain.
When your dog has been found:
Many of us worry when we hear that someone’s pet has gone missing. If your dog was lost and then recovered, please:
Post on the social media sites where your dog was listed as missing, to advise your animal has been found.
Take down the flyers that were posted about your pup.
The best way to avoid losing your dog, is to never take for granted the precautions suggested in this article. Anticipate stressful events, such as fireworks, and keep your animals safely secured during those events. And if you do lose your dog (or you are helping someone else who has lost their dog): think with your head, not your heart, and follow the instructions given by the owner or recovery group.
Michele McLeod CDBC, CBATI, CPDT-KA, VSA-DT
Sirius Positive Dog Training
203 788 7647
About the contributor: Michele provides private in-home training, behavior modification solutions, and board/train using positive reinforcement-based methods for clients in the tri-state region. Her professional certifications include: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (International Association for Animal Behavior Consultants); Certified Graduate of Distinction (Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior); Certified Behavior Adjustment Trainer (Grisha Stewart BAT); Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer; and Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CCPDT). She lives with her horses, donkey, dogs and cats at Rainbows End Farm in Sandy Hook, CT.