When you see those posts on FB, on a telephone pole, on your vet's wall or elsewhere, the first thing anyone with two heart-cells thinks is, "Aw, poor people! Hope they find their doggie!"
Now sometimes I will actually call the people if their number is posted and give them some suggestions, most of which, surprisingly, they HAVEN'T DONE yet.
So, here's hoping this handy list will help someone somewhere.
PREEMPTIVE STRIKES...BE PREPARED!
1) Take pictures. Good ones.
Too many people, even in this digital age are woefully UNPREPARED and under-photographed of their KIDS, not to mention their pets!
No shitty, blurry cell phone pictures! Stop being lazy. Get out your decent/good camera and take pictures outside in good light. I cannot emphasize this enough. Most pet owners don't have one decent picture of their dog and esp. their cat.
Ask a friend or co-worker to take pictures if you can't. If you know me, I'm happy to help for a small fee, swap or trade.
You want your dog's face, front, side view and back view if s/he has an unusual tail or distinguishing mark on the hindquarters..
AND you want to take decent-to-great photos often. Every month if they are beginning to gray or age. Graying and/or older dogs change their appearance very quickly month to month. Just as you would photograph you kid, you NEED TO HAVE GOOD PHOTOGRAPHS with GOOD DETAIL of your dog.
2) A Flat Buckle Collar That Fits. Many smart people with big shouldered dogs (where the collar slides off easily) keep harnesses on their dogs. For a nice, rarely-rubs harness, invest in the Freedom Harness. It's not that expensive: around $25.
Make sure your dog has tags and they are securely attached. If you don't like that hair ridge that comes from a flat collar, get a good, rolled leather dog collar.
Cats are more challenging than dogs to collar which is why #3 is vital! And why is your cat outside ANYWAY??
3) Microchip your animals. I'm also a big fan of tattooing my dogs as well but tattooing has somewhat gone out of fashion. The last place I knew that registered them is Tattoo=A=Pet. Keep your information current and correct and pay the darn yearly fee thing. Same with the old dog license.
4) Get to know your neighbors and especially the kids in the neighborhood. Get out of your house and be neighborly, for heaven's sake. Let the nice neighbors meet your nice dogs, or at least throw his nervous nerd self some cookies on the sidewalk. My neighborhood kids retrieved my wandering red and blue dogs more times than I care to say.
5) Make a flier or poster of your dog NOW. Make it so you can always plug in new pictures if need be. You can do this in a wide variety of programs and formats: Windows, Corel, Photoshop, Paint. There is a way to make a simple flier with text for PC, Mac or Linux.
That way, if the unthinkable happens you are ready to print.
Make sure that your neighborhood allows stapling stuff to phone/utility poles. Many don't allow this.
You want the dogs' pictures, contact information (a phone number will do), description of dog and any characteristics ("frightens easily, friendly" etc.). Some experts say don't use your dog's name, others say of course use the dog's name!
Reward offer? I've heard both pros and cons on that. I'd use your best judgement.
6) Invest in some basic training for you and your dog. "Come!!" and the Emergency Recall can be truly your best safeguard against losing your dog! It's a behavior that you need to reinforce throughout your dog's lifetime. And yes, you can teach some cats to come when called.
7) Secure your containment area, yard, whatever. Check your parameters often. Make sure the invisible fence is working and re-train your dog now and then.
Secure your dog in the car, teach him that jumping out whenever he feels like it is a no-no. Never release your dog from the car in a strange or exciting area unless he's leashed.
8) Prepare your network information:
Take the time one yucky, rainy Saturday and do research for your area.
If you live near a large park, state park, national park, get contact information for rangers etc.
Find all police stations, local shelters vets, rescues, trainer, training clubs, purebred Kennel clubs and purebred breed clubs. Make a list and update it every six months.
Alas, now your dog has gotten lost. He's been injured, chased a squirrel, bolted through your invisible fence, whatever.
Use social media!!
Post your flier on Facebook, Twitter etc.
AND, here's the big one....KEEP IT UPDATED EVERY FEW HOURS.
The minute Fluffy is found, TAKE IT DOWN and thank every one for their help and concern.
Too, too many people do not update those darn things.
WHEN YOU POST ON FACEBOOK please remember to include:
Those good photos of the dog. No photos, people don't give a crap. Sad but true.
Closest intersection where last seen AND City, county, state, country. DON'T FORGET THIS, Too many people DON'T post the darn city and state!
Really???? If you're lucky, that sucker is going to be cross-posted nationwide and you forget what city and state? Come on.
Your contact info etc.
Now, get away from the computer and.....remember the rules:
RULE A: ASK, ASK, ASK!
RULE B: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO OR WHERE YOU MAY GET HELP. YOU NEVER KNOW.
RULE C: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. If your gut tells you to do something, you get that niggly feeling, that little inner voice is shouting at you: PAY ATTENTION! See Rule B!
1) Call all your neighbors, better yet, go to their houses. What, you don't know your neighbors? See Preemptive Strike #4 and The Rules.
2) Call the cops. I know, you don't LIKE the cops. Call them anyway. Bring them a poster with your dog's pictures and pertinent contact info which you have printed out and ask nicely if they will post it and ask the officers to keep a look-out.
3) Start driving around. I rarely drive but I will still get in that car and drive around my neighborhood. Have treats and a loop leash with you!!! If you see folks out walking, riding bikes, stop and ask them. Remember The Rules, esp. Rule B!
It's been 4-6 hours. Still no dog.
4) Have a friend post fliers on telephone poles in the area where the dog was last seen.
5) Go to your local shelter or animal control if it's during opening hours. Tell them your dog went missing. Don't call them especially if you have a bully type dog and live anywhere remotely close to a bully-intolerant area. Just go. Even shelter workers will tell you, don't call.
Time is of the essence.
If your dogs gets lost in the evening, your first morning stop is the shelter. Go every day until your dog is found, if necessary. Give someone at the shelter your flier.
Now that Rainy Day Network Research comes into play:
5a) Contact all local dog rescues, regardless of breed or type. Don't do it by email if at all possible. Try and talk to a human being. This can be challenging!
5b) Contact all local dog trainers, training clubs and your local AKC or UKC kennel club.
6) Call every vet in your county or in a 25 mile radius. Seriously. If yours or another are in reasonable driving distance, take your posters to them.
If you haven't done Preemptive Strike #8 just get out the old Yellow Pages and start calling. Your dog could very easily be brought in as injured. There still are good people out there. And since you've microchipped your dog....you did microchip, correct? See #3.
7) If you dog bolted into the woods, again, time and bodies are of the essence. Arm everyone with treats and slowly make your way into the woods, running in lines, just as folks would do for a lost kid. If your dog went into private property, a park, a national park, you need to contact the right folks (such as rangers) right away.
7a) If there is a Search and Rescue team in your area, and there just might be, you could try to enlist their aid. This is a very long shot, and you'd have to "know" some people but I have known people whose dogs were found by SAR teams.
It's been 2 days. No dog. You've continued to post on FB, call the cops, neighbors, vets' offices, visiting the shelters as well as your own on-foot or in car search. Now it's time to make the hard call.
One is to Road Crews. Those lucky folks who pick up deer carcasses. Alas, some folks' dogs have been hit and killed and that's where their bodies ended up. At least you'll have some closure. If there are any construction sites etc. near where the dog got lost, you need to have contacted them as well.
If you are moving or traveling with your dog, you must be even more prepared with your Preemptive Strikes #1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Be overzealous and over-cautious!
And a good dose of praying and find-me energies to your Higher Power won't hurt one little bit. Prayers, postive energies can truly help.