This article is inspired by the many posts that I see daily on the Lost Pets of the Hudson Valley Facebook page. This is a tremendous resource for local residents and dog owners. It has enabled many dogs and their owners to reunite.
However, it pains me to see so many dogs getting lost and separated from their loving families. That is what motivated me to write this article, in hopes of outlining some proactive steps owners can take to help prevent their dog from getting lost; as well as options to help reunite dog and owner if they do get lost.
1. Have your dog wear an appropriate collar with dog tags that indicate important information such as any health related issues and the owner’s contact information (name, address, phone number(s), etc.)
2. Consult with your veterinarian about having your dog micro chipped. It is relatively inexpensive, and almost all animal shelters/veterinarians scan incoming stray dogs for microchips.
3. If you want your dog to run free in the yard, make sure you have a securely fenced in area. The fence should be able to prevent them from digging under, climbing over (make sure it is high enough), and free from holes or inadequate gates for them to go through.
4. When taking your dog out for a walk, make sure to secure the leash on your dog’s collar before exiting the house.
5. All individuals, especially children and guests, need be careful when opening and closings doors and windows. Dogs can be opportunistic little Houdini’s, and as soon as they see a chance to go outside and explore…they will.
6. Even if you have been successful (or in most cases lucky) with your dog coming to you when called or staying in the yard (when you don’t have a fence), don’t leave it to chance. Keep your dog on a leash or leash type system, in order to make sure he is safe.
1. If your dog does run away, post the dog’s picture and short stats sheet along with your contact information on as many news outlets as you can (facebook, radio, local newspapers). Post signs around town and in your yard (so people will know where to return if they find him). Time is of the essence, so don’t wait. Contact local business in your area to help keep an eye out. You may also want to tell your local post office and supply them with a picture. Mailmen are out in neighborhoods all day, there is a good chance one of them may spot your dog. Note: Make sure you have a high quality recent photograph of your dog - take a new one each year.
2. Contact all local (and not so local) veterinarians and animal shelters. Dogs can travel far and fast, so call in a large radius from where your dog was lost.
3. And don’t give up. Dogs have gone missing for extended periods of time and then have been found. Keep searching and keep spreading the word. The more people who are looking for them the better chance you have at finding your dog.
A complete fence for your yard may seem expensive now, or always having to put a leash on your dog when outside may seem tedious, or being cautious of opening windows and doors may sound excessive; but these are far better options then the agony of wondering where your dog is on a cold winter night, or having to search neighborhood after neighborhood just hoping to find a clue that they are still around.
I hope you never are put in this situation, so please be proactive in keeping your dog safe, that’s one way we will “Change the World for Dogs”.