Dear Lola: My neighbors found a lost dog what should they do? Their kids really want to keep the dog, but their parents keep reminding them that she has a home & family who love her. Right now the dog is staying at their home and they have put signs up but have not found the owners. So, what do you do if your pet goes missing and gets lost?
Sincerely, LOST & HOUND
DEAR LOST & HOUND: I want to applaud your neighbors for being the saving grace for a furry friend and opening up their hearts and homes even if it’s momentary. I agree with the parents, although the kids have fallen head over paws for this dog and there will be teary goodbyes and barks. It is important to reunite her with her family, just remind them of how it would feel to lose their pet. As Dorothy from the Land of Oz would say, “There is no place like home”. Unfortunately, unlike Dorothy and Toto there are no ruby red glass slippers to click together. So it is up to all you dog lovers out there and readers to help send them home.
We all know the feeling of losing or misplacing our wallet, a pair of glasses or important papers (which by the way may have been chewed up by the dog). My parents always say if their heads weren’t attached they would lose that too. But imagine the stress of losing a wandering family pet. Yes... even the dog that chews through your shoe closet will be missed. All pet owners would agree that regardless of the number of opened toed heel causalities, they would rather live with Spot & Felix then live without the,. So it is important to remember that at the end of every leash is not just a dog & cat owner but a loving parent. Here are some helpful tips for searching for & reuniting a lost dog or cat with family. Always be prepared for the worse, because you never know when you will need to put your sleuth cap on.
1. Don’t Panic- Although this can be a traumatic experience for you and the family it’s important to stay calm.
2. Form a Search & Sniff Party- Get family and friends together to find Spot or Felix the cat in an organized fashion. In the first 2 hours tell your family and friends to search within a 2 mile radius of where your pet was last spotted. It is a good idea to give your search party a recent photo and a detailed description of your pet so they can ask people in the neighborhood if they have seen your dog or cat. Many times a pack of pups may have spotted your dog or cat a short time ago wandering the streets.
3. Bring Along Pets Favorite Toy- While you are out searching, bring along your dog's favorite toy (in my case my recyclable bone), or sound a noise that makes him come running. Dogs can hear sounds from very far away and may come if they hear a comforting sound! Shaking a treat bag or something else a dog knows can help.
4. Have someone stay at the home just in case your pet shows up at your doorstep. With the lack of opposable thumbs your dog won’t be making a collect call anytime soon to tell you of his or her where about. So one person should be in charge of making phone calls to your local Humane Society, animal shelters, and rescues, vets, and police departments. Contact your neighbors to be on the lookout. If you're close to a county line, contact similar places in that county, too.
5. Leave a Scent Trail-Put articles of clothing or a dog's favorite toys outside the house. Dogs are attracted to things that bring them comfort. A scent of you, whom they love can lure them home and will have Lassie come running.
6. Contact local TV & Radio Station-Besides getting your dog his or her 15 minutes of fame, TV and radio can aid in the search. If your local TV and radio stations make community announcements, ask them for help.
7. Call & Check local pound or animal shelter-Notify the local pounds and shelters your dog is lost and give a proper description. Dogs & cats are often brought in as strays. Better yet, stop down with a recent photo for them to hang or hold on to. Because their sole mission is to find dogs loving home, they are always excited when they can help reunite you with your furry loved one. Also, if a kind stranger does find a dog and brings it there, the staff will know to reach you. NOTE: If they do call with a dog that matches, make sure to VISIT YOURSELF. Their description and yours can easily vary.
8. Go to familiar places! Dogs tend to wander where they go frequently or are familiar with, perhaps in a neighbor’s backyard or at the nearest dog park. Be sure to put extra flyers around that park, or notify the owners of that dog park to keep a lookout. If you ask they may let you post pictures of your dog around the park for other pups to see.
9. Create Missing Fliers- Even after it’s too late to search anymore don’t give up. Create an ad with a recent picture of your dog. If you don't have a photo, and your dog is a purebred, use a picture from a book. Describe the dog so an average person or pooch walking the streets would recognize him if he saw him. Include identifying information about him like his collar, dog tags, birth marks, identifying features like scars or unusual coloration's, or microchip ID number.
10. Make detailed Fliers-Be specific: "LOST: (Dog's Name) a brown dog with white face and paws, SPAYED female; got loose from yard on Dec. 1, 2005 (Location where lost) near the post office in Our Town, PA around 4 p.m. Wearing a pink collar with rabies tag and license. Is on anti-seizure medication. Family pet. REWARD. Call …
11. Read the newspaper-Check the "found" ads in they newspaper each day your pet is lost.
12. BEWARE OF FALSE ALARMS: Never respond to a found pet claim alone. Take a friend and ask to meet in a public place such as the park.
13. Day 2: Intensify the search. Start ads posting on bulletin boards and in high visibility areas like gas stations and grocery stores in your neighborhood. Tape flyers to phone poles. Ask friends and family members to distribute flyers door-to-door.
14. After 2 days: Extend your search. Go a little farther by vehicle or bike and start spreading the word to your local mailmen, UPS and Fed Ex drivers, joggers, runners, bikers and anyone else walking around the search areas.
15. Expand Search Radius- Expand the radius of your search area by several miles - call shelters even beyond the area you think your dog could have reached. Give surrounding shelters a detailed description of your pet. Drop off or fax a copy of your ad.
16. Visit animal shelters on weekly basis to check in on lost pet. Start visiting the animal shelters and rescue leagues to look for your pet every other day. Just keep in mind that if a dog goes lost for a few weeks their appearance can change from clean cut to disheveled, dirty & matted. Don’t worry with a little primping & pampering your dog will be back to his or her old self, winning best in show.
17. Don’t give up your search & hope for the best. Persistence often pays off. Thanks to your persistence and the kindness of strangers pets that have been lost for months have been reunited with their families.
All you reunited lost pups & felines tell us your encouraging stories by commenting below. We know your uplifting stories will inspire those searching for a lost pet to not give up hope.
Barkingly yours,Lola the eco-dog
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