Check Animal Shelters
Be certain to check with every animal shelter or humane society in your vicinity daily, or at least every two or three days. Click here for a list of some of the local shelters. You must go in person, as it is very difficult for busy shelter personnel to identify your pet by phone. Take the extra time to visit each shelter to avoid an unfortunate oversight. Stray dogs picked up by animal control are often misidentified as the wrong breed, wrong age, or even the wrong sex. Check every department of the shelter, including the hospital room, holding area, or quarantine area. Don’t think that because your pet is purebred that he or she was stolen. The shelters are full of purebred animals of all ages waiting for their owners to pick them up!
Check the Shelter Websites
Many of the animal shelters now maintain their own websites, posting photos and information about the dogs at their facility. Click here for a list of some of the local shelters and their website addresses. While these can be useful, don’t rely solely on the shelter websites — not every dog in the shelter gets his or her photo and information posted! In some cases, by the time a dog is posted to the website, his or her time at the shelter is almost up!
Keep Checking the Shelters
Continue to check shelters for weeks after your pet has disappeared in case it has been temporarily taken in by someone. Even if your dog was wearing an I.D. tag or microchip, go to the shelter and look for yourself! We’ve seen dogs wearing collars and I.D. tags waiting at shelters for their owners to pick them up. If you have moved or changed your phone number, the shelter may have no way to get in contact with you.
Check with Neighbors
Someone may have taken your pet in with good intentions, especially if it was not wearing I.D. Take a photo of your pet door-to-door, covering several blocks around the area that it was last seen. Be sure to also check with neighborhood kids.
Check Local Parks and Schools
Stray pets are often attracted to areas where there are trash cans filled with discarded food and plenty of water to drink. Check locations near where the pet was lost that might be sources of an easy meal.
Type or print a bold poster containing your pet’s photo, so that it’s easily and quickly legible to passing motorists. Including a photo greatly increases your chance of recovery. Post copies of your poster at local veterinary offices, pet supply stores, animal shelters, groomers, grocery stores, busy intersections, etc. and throughout your neighborhood in highly visible places.
Call Lost & Found Services
In addition to animal shelters, some services and organizations take calls regarding lost and found pets, and can assist in recovery. Try these resources:
Call (888) 85FOUND
Call (714) 978-PETS
Place “Lost Dog” Ads in Local Papers
Some publications will run free “lost pet” ads for a few days. If not free, the cost is usually minimal, and well worth increasing the chances of recovering your pet.
Check “Found Dog” Ads
Check “found pet” ads in newspapers daily. Call any ad that remotely resembles the description of your pet, since the people placing the ad might not describe your pet accurately.
Don’t Assume Your Pet was Stolen!
Occasionally, we hear reports of puppies or toy-breed dogs having been stolen from their owners, but it is very uncommon for a large-breed dog such as a German Shepherd to be taken by a stranger. Often, owners assume that the reason their dog is suddenly missing from their yard could only mean that someone entered the premises and took the animal. In every one of these cases, we have found later that the dog either jumped the fence or escaped the yard in some other manner. In one case, the dog had gotten under the house and became trapped. Don’t assume that someone has taken your dog!
Don’t Give Up!
Depending on the circumstances under which your pet was lost, and where it has ended up, it could take several weeks, even months, for your reunion. For your pet’s sake as well as your own, never stop looking. When you do locate your pet, RUN — don’t walk — to the nearest pet supply store and get an I.D. tag on his or her collar IMMEDIATELY. An I.D. tag is the best way to help your pet to find his or her way safely back home.