It is very upsetting and stressful to lose your dog. To give you the greatest chance of finding your dog should he or she go astray, act fast - and don't panic!
- Hopefully your dog is microchipped. Contact your microchip company and inform them your dog is missing - make sure your contact details are up to date.
- Spend at least 15-30 minutes calling and whistling for your dog - and try to sound cheerful. Circle the location in which the dog was last seen, but try not to leave the immediate area at first. Make your circles wider and wider before you eventually do leave, making sure you ask everyone you pass if they've seen your pet. Give those who seem helpful and trustworthy your number or your vet's number. In rural environments check rabbit/badger holes/sets and ask farmers if you can check their barns.
- If you have pet insurance then contact your company as they may provide financial assistance and advice on advertising for your dog’s return.
- Prepare a flyer with relevant information about your dog, including the name and physical description. Contact information should include your name, telephone number and email address. If possible, include a photograph and have these photocopied. Post and distribute flyers wherever your dog was last seen, as well as throughout your home neighbourhood and to any welfare services you contact.
- Call all local veterinary practices and all animal rescue centres with a description of your dog, and perhaps visit them with a flyer including a recent photo. Again microchipping means if they find your dog they can instantly contact you. If your dog is injured they will end up at a practice local to where the dog is lost, make sure they are looking out for him/her.
- Canvas the neighbourhood in which your dog was lost, moving from door to door with information. It's not unusual for dogs afraid of thunder, for example, to escape their homes or gardens and settle calmly in the garden or garage of a neighbour.
- Walk or cycle up and down the roads nearest the area your dog was last seen. People strolling or cycling nearby are another helpful resource for spotting your animal. Bring along a favourite treat.
- Put the flyer in your local newsagent, village notice board or post office (or the establishments close to where the dog went missing.
- Contact the local council, dog warden, police and animal control authorities with a description and the time and area in which your dog was lost. They will be the ones who will be contacted if your pet has been in a car accident, for example, or if your dog is reported as a stray.
- Take advantage of the lost and found ads in your local newspaper. Place a 'lost dog' ad as soon as possible, and be sure to check the column daily for any that have been found. If you have been walking some distance from your home, find the most appropriate local paper (the local shop or post office may help you with this).
- Some national databases for lost pets are available on the internet.
- You can offer a reward for any information leading to your dog's safe return. Even indirect information from someone who spotted a dog with your pet's colouring can be very helpful. However, be cautious as less scrupulous people may pretend to have seen your dog. Consider this option carefully and perhaps pursue other options first.
Many lost pets are also taken to local shelters. In addition, some other organisations can be a great help in locating lost pets. When you get in touch with any organisation, make sure you have the following details to hand: colour, age, size, temperament, identification on the dog (collar, tag, microchip, where the dog was lost), and your details.
The Blue Cross
Phone: +44 (0) 1993 822651
Phone: 0870 55 55 999
If you live in the Greater London area, try
Battersea Dogs Home Lost Dogs Line
on 0901 477 8477 (calls are charged at 60p per minute). They will enter your details into a central search system and see if any matches fit your description.
And if your dog is a pure breed, get in touch with the Kennel Club as well.