4 Things You Can Do If Your Dog Runs Away
It's something every dog owner never wants to happen.
You go outside and discover someone left the fence door open or somehow he magically got off his leash.
Either way your beloved dog is gone and you're instantly filled with heartbreak, fear and the instinct to take action immediately. What are you supposed to do?
While finding your lost friend isn't always a guarantee, there are a ton of things you can do to increase the chances of finding him!
Search for Your Dog– Don't Get Frustrated!
If you need a minute or two to calm down and collect your thoughts, do so. It won't do you any good if you're in a panicked state. Once calm, begin a search around your neighborhood. Pass out current pictures of your dog and ask neighbors, delivery drivers and the mailman if they've seen your pup.
Make sure you provide contact information to these people in case he does turn up!
Canines go where their noses take them, and they relate to familiar smells. Something like a local coffee shop, store or restaurant that you've been to together can trigger their noses and attract them.
Or he could be out back in the dumpster helping himself to some great treats!
No one knows your dog better than you do. What are your dog's habits? Does he have a buddy a few streets over that you visit often? Or perhaps a dog park he loves? Those are terrific places to check too.
Gather a bunch of friends and family members and perform a larger search. If your dog is a roamer or runner, you'll need to widen your search a few miles from where you last saw him.
File Lost Pet Reports
It's a good idea to fill out lost pet reports using your computer or phone. Fill one out at each of these places:
- Animal shelters in a 60-mile radius
- Humane Society
- Local police station
Also, make sure to notify your vet as well as other local vet offices. Be sure to give all of these organizations a recent picture and complete description of your pooch. If he has a microchip, make sure to provide them with the microchip ID as well. If he's wearing a collar with ID tag, let them know that too in addition to your contact info.
Visit your local shelters often to view their newest members and check their kennels. The person you spoke with on the phone might not be the same person when you visit the shelter; so nicely explain your situation and give them a picture along with all the pertinent information before you leave.
Use Social Media and the Internet
The internet can be quite handy for things of this nature. There are some terrific sites that are very helpful:
Many pet parents have been reunited with their lost fur babies through social media. In fact, many animal shelters have social media pages for you to post on.
Post a picture and description of your adored pup on your own Facebook page and allow your friends and family to share it on their Facebook page. Twitter can be a good resource also; just put in links to organizations and make sure to tweet your location. The more people who know about your missing canine, the greater the chances are of his return.
Hang Up Notices
Technology is great but you just can't beat the old standby—a "lost dog" sign. But some communities have rules about hanging personal signs so please do your research ahead of time.
Once the research is complete create a sign with a font that's bold and easy to read. Make room on the poster for a color photo of your pooch. Along with your name, email address and phone number, include the following details about your dog:
- Special markings and color
Always make sure to leave something out of the dog's description—something that stands out and can identify him. Perhaps he has one brown eye and one blue eye or his tail is crooked. Leaving this info out of the poster will prevent you from getting pet recovery scams.
If a stranger professes to have your dog but can't name that special characteristic, chances are he doesn't have your dog. So do not give out your home address or any information unless the stranger can give a full description of your pup.
It may be tempting to offer a reward but it's probably not a good idea. If your pup was stolen or in the wrong hands, they could see that as a value placed on your dog and try to sell him. People who love dogs and are honest will know that returning a dog safely is the greatest reward for both involved.
Some wonderful places to put up signs are:
- Community centers
- Traffic intersections
- Fitness centers
- Bus stops
- Grocery and department stores
- Veterinary offices such as ours
- Pet supply stores
- Post offices
- Doctor offices
Above all, never lose hope or give up. There have been many dogs returned to their owners even after months of searching. Continue to check in with shelters and neighbors. When you get your cherished pup back be sure to get him an ID tag, microchip or both—if he doesn't have one already. If you need help or would like us to examine your dog after he's been returned, please contact us.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.