The worst has happened. You turned your back for a slip second and your 4-legged best friend took off. What do you do? Who do you call?
Below is some input from a local super hero named Dee Ryan, who has an excellent ability to track lost dogs, even those brand new to homes (and our owner Heidi can attest to that!).
Call all local police agencies, shelters, and animal controls as well as adjoining areas/counties. Some shelters/animal controls only hold a stray animal for 48 to 72 hours by PA State law before they go up for adoption or are transferred to other animal agencies. Chipped animals are usually given more of an extension if they are scanned but many dogs are never checked for chips. Please make sure you report to the chip company immediately that the pet is lost and make sure your information is updated with them in the event the animal is found and eventually scanned. Be proactive and keep checking shelters/animal control as well. Having a friend or family member who is not able to physically help search for the dog assist with these calls is an excellent idea.
Make a Craigslist Ad, Pawboost post, use Next Door and any social media page within your neighborhood. Make sure the ad has a link to the owner's original social media post as well (if possible) including a phone number to reach the owner or rescuer involved. Time is of the essence and real-time tracking needs to be used. It is best to avoid emailing or DM/PMs on social media as they can delay the dissemination of vital information.
Place scent items like bedding or something scented related to the owner and/or animal on porch, in yard, or nearby the home. Examples can include pillow cases, clothes, used bath towels, a favorite toy, or the pup's bed. This tactic should be used only at the home of the dog: if scent items are placed throughout the neighborhood, the pup will become confused. The goal is to get the dog home.
Flyers should be out within the FIRST 24 HOURS of the pet missing. The community around you can be the biggest asset in animal rescue (remember, not everyone utilizes social media!). Have around 200 flyers printed and hang at intersections and local businesses and keep some to handout to neighbors. Wordy flyers cannot be seen by passing drivers, so keep the information clear and simple: a photo, name, and phone number. Keep a notebook handy to record sighting information like date, time, exact location, what the dog was doing, and the direction of flight. Do not disregard any sighting: old sightings can be beneficial in rescue as it illustrates the path of the animal.
Dee stresses this is a guideline to get a rescue started. Each rescue and animal can be different and not all suggestions work for every dog every time. Keeping the rescue organized is key: working as a team will yield a better chance of locating someone’s precious family member.
If you need help with a lost pup, please give our shop a call at (724) 719-2788 and we will do whatever we can to help you!