Lost Dog Search & Rescue
The Logical Steps to Take in Assisting Recovery
You have already done tons of looking. It hasn't worked yet. Take a deep breath. Let's start all over again. Let's think about the most likely reason your pet ran away. Let's think about the size and fitness of your pet. Let's draw a circle around the spot you lost your pet. Half a mile? A mile? Five miles? You decide.
Let's think about the places in that circle where you pet would likely go to find company, comfort and food. A school yard? A house where your pet sometimes gets treats or has a buddy it looks at during walks? A stranger's open car door?
Let's think about all the people who live inside that circle, who go to school there, who play in the yards, who come and mow the lawns and deliver the mail and read the gas meters and deliver the packages. People who spend lots of time outside and are likely to see a lost dog. People who drive through your part of the world regularly as part of their work, who you don't know and who don't know you.
Let's get all of them looking for your lost pet. Let's add a thousand people to the search.
You need to make up big signs, colorful, eye catching signs. You need to include the word Reward in big letters, to make everyone understand that this is really important to you. You have to include a photo of your pet. If you don't have an appealing photo, then you can create one by copying an image off the internet. Use one of the major search engines, select images as the filter, put in a description of your dog and suddenly you will have dozens of images to choose from. Don't worry if you are borrowing someone's holiday photo of their dog - they will probably be only too happy to learn they are helping yours come home.
If you are in a bilingual community, put your sign in both languages. The major search engines on the internet translate your text immediately and for free.
Take your text on and your image of your pet on disk or in photo form to the local copy / print store. They can quickly turn it into a large colorful poster for a very small fee. Please help us find ….. She was last seen at the corner of ….. She is a Golden Labrador, 3 years old. She was wearing a red collar. REWARD of $300 for information leading to her return.
Have them print up 10 to 20 large signs, and 100 small versions that you can mail.
You want to put the signs where the most people who either live, work, or regularly travel through the circle will have a chance to slow down and see them. Major intersections controlled by traffic lights. Entry and exit to parks. Where all the school children get off the bus or are dropped off in the morning, so both parents and children can see them. Entry and exit to grocery store. The local espresso bar.
Now you have added a thousand people to your search.
The person who took your dog to their vet in the next city. The child who saw a dog in the back of their yard. The new neighbor who didn't know that was your animal. The truck driver who stopped on a route to pick up a lost dog, but couldn't do anything about it until he had finished his delivery, 2 hours down the highway. They are out there looking with you.
Go home. Open the yellow pages. You need to mail your small version to the groomers, vets, kennels, animal hospitals, animal shelters and pet stores in the area at least double the size of your circle. Don't be shy. While all of these places will notify the local animal shelter when a pet is found, you need to understand that animal shelters are under different city and county jurisdictions. They are, sadly, not unified. They do not share information. A pet store taking in a stray without a tag would have no way of knowing if that dog is 2 miles or 20 miles away from home. If they contact the animal shelter near them but far from you, your pet may be going to the wrong shelter in the wrong direction. Some shelters only hold a pet for 4 days, then give it out for adoption or destroy it. Maybe the pet store will solve the mystery correctly. Make it easy for them to get it right and help bring your pet home.
Now, get on the internet or find someone who can get you on the internet. Many shelters are on line. They maintain lists of found pets. Some have photos of lost pets. Look over the ones in a huge circle from your home.
There are many rescue organizations which regularly publish current lists and digital photos of found pets at the shelters, as a way of helping them go home or be adopted.
Use a major search engine. Try pet rescue California and you will see them. These are wonderful dedicated people who are out there looking. Look over their lists and photos.
Use the internet to get the names and addresses of shelters in the 3 to 5 adjoining counties. Mail them your small mailer. Although officially they need you to come in and fill out their form, that is most often not practical without extended driving. But they will almost always post your photo mailer, which gives you one more chance to bring your pet home.
If you want to be more intensive with your mailer, contact a company such as sherlockbones.com, who for a fee will prepare a mailer and posters for you, and will send the mailer as a post card to 500 or as many as 1,000 homes in your circle. You can also look at the bulletin board of your local shelter to see what mailers look like and identify other companies offering the service. The mailer raises the awareness in the community. It adds more eyes to the search. It helps connect your dog who wants to come home with you, who are desperately trying to find it.
You can run an ad in the local paper's classified section for lost pets. Please be careful of the people who call you. You are vulnerable. There are people who use these ads to con and scam reward money for pets they do not have. Check the found ads as well.
You have posted your signs. You have mailed your flyers. You have visited the local shelters. You are checking the internet postings once every day. You are watching the classified found ads.
It is time to start calming down.
It is okay to keep walking and driving in search of your pet, but set hours for yourself. The best ones are early morning before the traffic starts up.
Keep doing the normal things in your life. It isn't for your pet. It is for you. The wear and tear of all of this is substantial. The more you can keep to normal patterns for yourself, the more you can stay focused and productive.
As part of checking with the local animal shelter, you should consider checking the list they maintain of dead animals they have picked up. It may sound like a grim exercise, but every time you do it and do not find your pet, your hope has reason to continue. The substantial majority of lost pets are not on that list. The odds are in your favor. If your pet has passed on, you and those who care for you need to know.
And now, it is time for you to wait patiently as you continue your normal life. Most people get the call that their pet has been found. I did. I pray you do too.
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