What to do if your dog is lost

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories recently about lost dogs. Of course the one that sticks in my head the most lately is this sad story out of Avon. These stories have me thinking about what I would do if I ever lost my dog. Of course I have already given my dog a lot of speeches about how he shouldn’t run away, but in case that doesn’t work I thought it would be a good idea to know what to do if my dog got away. Although it’s not something you want to think about happening, it’s always a good idea to be educated on what you should do. Here’s some ideas compiled from experts for what to do if your dog is lost.

Contact everyone

Still missing in Lakewood

Within the first few hours of your dog getting loose experts recommend putting out food, water, your dog’s bed or a favorite toy wherever he or she was last seen. This may help lure him back. If that doesn’t work you should begin canvassing the neighborhood, going door to door to drop off of your dog’s picture.

You’ll also want to contact local animal shelters, vets and police departments. There should be no limit to the amount of places you contact. Your dog could cover a lot of territory, so you don’t want to just stop with your local shelter or police department. Visit animal shelters regularly as well to check up on the dogs they take in. The Friends of the Cleveland Kennel has some good tips up on their site for who to contact as well: http://www.friendsofclevelandkennel.com/lost-found.html

Use social media

In addition to staying in touch with local shelters, one of the fastest ways to keep on top of dogs picked up by rescue groups is to follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter. Also, post your dog’s picture to Facebook, make it public and ask others to share. There are social media sites dedicated to lost dogs as well. Locally, there is a Cleveland lost and found pets page – https://www.facebook.com/LostandFoundAnimalsCleveland. It doesn’t look like it’s been updated lately, so maybe there’s a need for a new one (although people are still posting pictures on the page). I can also share any pet photos as well, feel free to send them to me at dogsinthecle@gmail.com, or post to the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dogsinthecle. There’s also a site for Ohio missing dogs – Home Again Ohio – https://www.facebook.com/#!/homeagainohiopet (That’s my friend Shelli’s dog as the profile pic. Her white miniature schnauzer has been missing in Columbus since November sadly). It’s a good idea to keep an eye on Craig’s List’s lost and found postings, as well as keep an eye on dogs that are posted there for sale. There’s even a Pet Amber Alert site that will do a lot of the work for you – http://www.petamberalert.com.


Lilly - missing in Columbus since November.
Lilly – missing in Columbus since November.

The first thing all experts recommend as a preemptive measure is to microchip your dog. The microchip will allow an animal shelter or vet who picks up your dog to scan the dog and get your contact information. Of course, you also want make sure that your dog always wears a collar with a ID tag, since that is the easiest way to get him or her returned, but collars can come loose or tags can go missing, so you don’t want to rely on that alone. It’s important to remember if you do microchip your dog, you’ll need to register your pet with a microchip company so that the scan actually pulls up your information. Also, make sure to update your contact information with this company should you move. I have heard many stories of dogs being reunited with owners months later due to microchips.


What to do if you find a dog

Use caution – The dog is likely scared, or could even be injured, so any sudden movement could send him or her running. Instead of walking toward the dog, you want to try and get him or her to come to you, so luring with food, if possible, is a good idea. Do not chase or run toward the dog, as that will most likely cause it to run away again.

FOUND DOG - dropped off at Style Mutt March 11
FOUND DOG – dropped off at Style Mutt March 11

Contact local animal shelters – If there is no ID, or you can’t get a hold of the owner, you should file a “found” report with your local animal shelter in case the owner calls or goes there to search for the pet. You can also drop the animal off there, especially if there is no tag, since they can scan for a microchip or may have a database they can check to see if the dog was reported to them as lost. According to the Lost Pet Partnership, many people don’t take animals to shelters out of fear the animal will be killed. Although it is true most can only hold dogs for three days, many times local rescues step in after that to take the dog. If you are worried about this though, you can offer to foster the dog, providing the shelter with your contact information in case the owners contact them. Then the work will be on you to track down the owners.

Check the laws – If you are considering taking the pet in, you should check into local laws about pet ownership. According to Humane Society, there are laws in almost every state that an animal is not “owned” until the holding period for strays (as specified by state or local laws) is over. The finder should also have tried to find the original owner and taken steps to vaccinate, license, collar and ID the dog to prove their ownership. According to the Plain Dealer article, after three days, a dog not wearing a dog license in Cleveland is considered to be abandoned. Another reason why properly IDing and microchipping your dog is so important!

Found wandering around W. 129th in Cleveland. Contact  Adrienne  440 856 6511 if you recognize this dog.
Found wandering around W. 129th in Cleveland. Contact Adrienne 440 856 6511 if you recognize this dog.

Have you seen these dogs? (Click on the picture for more info)