Monday, 18 August 2008

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed - What To Do If Your Dog Goes Missing

Losing your pet dog is upsetting and worrying, but there are practical things that you can do to find your missing dog. All common sense things to do, but, in the panic of the moment, easily forgotten.

If you are on holiday still do this. Your dog won't be familiar with the local territory unless it has been there before.
  • Search the area systematically and call your dog's name loudly!
  • Your dog may find its way either to the car or back home, so phone home and keep checking the car.
  • Ask other people to keep a look out. Give them a contact number.
  • Put up posters with a clear picture of your dog, a description and your dog's name. Add your contact details. Consider offering a reward.
  • Contact the local dog warden. They work for the council.
  • Contact all animal rescues in the area.
  • Contact local vets
  • The local radio station may have a spot for lost animals or may put out an appeal.
  • Try the local police station. The police no longer have a responsibility for strays, but may have had a report. Also, they will know if dog thieves are operating in the area.
  • Go nationwide if necessary. Put an ad in the dog magazines and papers. (e.g. Dogs Today, your Dog, Dog World)
  • Don't give up. Check with everyone at regular intervals. Missing dogs do turn up - even after some time.
  • If your dog has pet insurance, you may get a sum of money to help you recover your dog, e.g. to pay for advertising.

Prevention is better than cure, so I advise doing the following.

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identity disc securely attached. This should have your name and address (this is required by law) and a phone number. Keep the details up to date.
  • Have your dog microchipped. If it loses its collar or disc the chip is still there. Dog wardens, vets, and many animal rescues have scanners and will check any stray that comes in.
  • Make sure that the microchip registration details are kept up to date.
  • Don't leave your dog tied up alone outside of shops, etc. They can be stolen in seconds.
  • If you have to leave your dog alone in a vehicle (with windows open enough for ventilation and in the shade!) make sure that it is in public view.

One last thing - dog theft. This is a nasty business which the police are starting to take seriously. Dogs can be stolen because of their value. They can also be kidnapped (dognapped is a term sometimes used) for ransom. The people who do this sort of thing are scum. Threats of mutilation and death are made. I've heard of dog owners paying thousands of pounds to get their much-loved pets back.

Good luck to anyone in this position and don't give up hope. There's a lot of goodwill and help out there.

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