Grief. Terror. Guilt. If you are experiencing the dog guardian’s worst
nightmare, you must not
panic: there are many
steps you can take to locate him, and a calm and thorough approach will become a critical asset. Swift action, coupled with aggressive neighborhood networking, will increase the odds of having your companion return home safely. The key is
to get the information out
to as many people
and posted in as many
places as you can,
and to enlist the aid of family and friends in a coordinated search effort.
(PAGE 1 of 2): BEFORE YOUR DOG IS LOST—advance preparation is critical. Up-to-date photos.You should have photos of your dog (both head and full-body profiles), no more than six months old: ideally, these should be digital, so that you can forward them electronically to newspapers, animal control officers or shelters, to your local printer, online pet-finder resources, or friends.If you don’t have a camera: borrow one, or minimally, virtually every cell phone has this capability.To send a cell phone photo to your computer: simply enter your E-mail address into the “contact list” of your phone (using the numbers as a letter-keypad, or select “ABC”), and forward the photo to your E-mail, from which you can then open the text message and and save the photo attachment to your computer.
Ensure that your photos are sharp, well-lit, with an uncluttered setting that doesn’t distract.Have photos when he has first had a professional grooming or “summer cut,” and during re-growth—especially for long haired dogs—as his appearance can change considerably.Consider that your dog may look different to others than you perceive him: he may be frightened, injured, or wet; so have on hand photos that provides reasonable detail about how he looks, particularly when he's dirty or ungroomed, since the missing dog rarely remains natty for more than a short time.
Sadie: auditioning for a position with DPW?
Collars & Tags. Microchips. Tattooing.
Bear in mind that in Connecticut—and in most jurisdictions—dogs arerequired to be vaccinated for rabies, licensed, and registered with the state, and if allowed outside at all (even if on a leash) are required to wear a collar displaying the ID and rabies tags.
The ID tag should have your name and a current phone number.Absent identifying information, dogs are often euthanized in municipal (or even private) shelters after a relatively short period (perhaps even immediately)—identification buys time—a move or change of contact info necessitates new tags immediately.Think ahead: don’t endure the mistake of assuming your indoor dog doesn’t need to wear a collar & tags: a small dog will end up slipping out the front door at least once in his life.
ID tags should include: the word “REWARD” in capital letters on the first line; your city and state, your home & work phone numbers (with area codes); and a friend or relative's phone number. Other practical ideas include reflective and glow-in-the-dark collars which dramatically increase the chances that your dog can be seen at night.
Jade: elderberries & licorice
The ability to identify your dog through license tags, a tattoo, or a microchip may represent his ticket home. Counties and municipal shelters will hold records of all license numbers, and chips are registered with national databases. Many shelters will scan for a microchip when they won't roll a dog over to look for a tattoo.
About the size of a grain of rice, microchips are painlessly injected under the skin (usually between the shoulder blades) by your veterinarian: typically, your dog won't be aware the procedure has been done. The pet identification microchip has a number embedded into it that can be read by a hand-held scanner. That number is entered into a database containing your personal contact information: should your dog go missing and wind up with local animal control or at an animal shelter, they would only need to scan for the microchip to see that he is not a stray and would be able to reunite you. A microchip will also remain as backup when a collar with a detachable safety-clip fulfills its design to release if your dog gets hung up
during his wayward journey.
Today, the majority of animal control facilities, shelters, and veterinarians have and use the scanners when stray animals are brought in, (modern scanners are universal, and can detect microchips from any vendor). Remember, however, that the company can only contact you if you have provided information about a changed address or phone number since registering the chip:you may forget about this when upgrading a cell phone, for example, and good advance preparation should include a repeating reminder set into your E-mail calendar (perhaps, every month) to ensure that
this information is up to date.
Missy & Reilly: (an aggreeable) sibling rivalry
Contact information should preferably include a cell phone number that you can answer any time of day (or when you are outside looking for him), as well as a back-up contact as a safeguard.Costs of microchipping have dropped dramatically and are generally quite modest (enfolding the vet fee to inject the chip, and one to have your information entered into the parent company database). Today, many states, municipalities, and private charities or rescue groups operate programs to subsidize these costs as a community service: contact your town hall or access a state website for contact information.
Although rare, in an especially athletic dog, a microchip might migrate somewhat, slipping towards his shoulder, elbow or chest. Have your vet scan your dog annually and they’ll be able to reassure you; however, as ordinary practice, conscientious veterinary clinics or shelters will broadly scan a dog's entire upper body.
Embroidered collar can be read from a distance
Consider a nylon web collar on which you can have your phone number embroidered: this may be helpful in the event that your dog does not want to be approached, as they can be read from a distance.
Clip-on tags that can be scanned by any Smartphone enable anyone who finds your pet to quickly access a profile that can include not only your own, but other family or friend’s user-determined contact information, as well as important medical alerts. A fee-based subscription enables a “passive” search that sends a real-time email with a GPS map of the location where the scan took place.
If tattooing is offered anywhere in your area, you can have your dog tattooed on the inner thigh. A tattoo is likely the most effective means of identification available. Then, you can register that tattoo with a national organization such as National Dog Registry (800-NDR-DOGS), since an unregistered tattoo cannot be traced back to you. Police can trace a tattoo that is identified as a state drivers' license (remembering again, that you should then provide follow-up information upon a move out of state). The brief process does not require anesthetic. Tattooing is a visible ID that works: no scanner is needed to read one. Under federal law, research labs cannot accept a tattooed animal.
GPS Tracking Devices. Clip-on tools to track lost pets are available in two types. High technology global positioning devices (GPS) similar to what you use in your car, use satellites to locate a tracker, and then transmit non-ionizing radio frequency data through a cellular network (assuming coverage is available). Single-dog outfits are available for less than $100; a monthly service (monitoring) fee is additional for most vendors (refurbished past-model units can offer further savings). The products are generally water-resistant. Battery life can range from 1 – 4 days; some are rechargeable. Less sophisticated (but not necessarily less expensive) “radio tracker” models utilize a somewhat dated technology, and cover distance similar to the use of a walkie-talkie’s range (with a range generally linked to cost), and don’t require a monitoring subscription fees. Of these, manufacturers market capabilities for programming multiple dogs at once; more substantial units scan the dog’s location every few seconds (even in dense cover) and
transmit to a hand-held map screen.
Oliver: artful negotiator
Neither type of tracking system is invasive or requires the installation of sensors. Of the GPS-type, many vendors offer “geo-fencing,” which allows the guardian to establish an electronic perimeter: dubbed a “safe zone.” Now programmed, the device clips on the dog's collar and “senses” when the wearer leaves this configurable boundary. The guardian is then alerted via text message, Email, or both to the dog's real-time location with turn-by-turn directions to that exact spot; smartphone users have access to live map applications. Multiple zones can be programmed and operated simultaneously. Increasingly stylish and unobtrusive, some are built-in to collars, and have LED lights visible at night from significant distance. Others are equipped with a rescue button so that a “Good Samaritan” who finds the missing dog can notify the guardian and monitoring service immediately.
Around the yard.Gates leading to the street should be equipped with spring closers, and locked. Remember that visitors will generally not have the heightened sense of vigilance that you need, and even friends and family need to be educated—often—on the importance of this issue to you.If service persons need access to your yard insist on firm schedules so you can put your dog elsewhere when they are expected.
Luna: shoreside sportster
•Garbage: Put the cans outside the gate yourself
the previous night. •Meter readers: Request a scheduled appointment, and they will likely cooperate; also many utility companies will teach and allow you to send in your own readings (augmented with a quarterly or semi-annual check on accuracy by utility personnel). Modern meters can be read electronically from outside the gate; ask if this is available
in your area; •Pool or yard maintenance personnel: Choose companies whose employees are bonded, as they will be trained to be more sensitive to pet security issues, since you’d have contractual recourse if they carelessly cause damage—or leave your gate open. Insist on meeting the person who will be coming to your home, and stop him before work begins to stress that your dog will escape and will not return if the gate is left opened for even a moment: workers should accurately sense your intensity on the issue. You should feel comfortable repeating your instructions from time to time to ensure urgency. Have a secure place to leave your dog on the days such maintenance is scheduled.
Ginger: circumspect, hoping to have spied a friend...
Long walks benefit both you and your dog. Invest the time to introduce your dog to the neighborhood
beyond just a street or two.
Let him learn landmarks to help him find his way home (or, to distract him and limit the distance he might travel) if he does escape. More importantly, introduce to him to the neighbors—particularly children who may play out front and retired people who may spend time watching what goes on—they may be among the first to notice him when he does ramble. Encourage willing neighbors to let your dogs interact and become familiar with each other:your dog might "stop for a visit" if mistakenly out on his own, buying you valuable time.
Emphasize that your dog is never let out alone and exchange numbers where you can be reached if they do see him—or you see their dog—outside.
Szasabu: "Beach wrack is the BEST for an itch!"
Teach your dog a specific signal. Lost dogs often become fearful and “hunker down,” remaining unseen perhaps only feet away from your increasingly tense search.
Your call might be: “Cookie! Cookie ! Cookie!”
Always give a treat and affection when he responds to this, and don't use it to catch him for things he doesn't absolutely love (grooming, "tricking" him to coming inside, going to the vet, etc.).
Have friends do this with your dog as well, to condition him that it is adistinct cue to come for goodies. It is even easier to teach than a formal obedience recall, may aid you in finding him when lost—and could save your dog's life in a different type of emergency.
Belle: demure, blushing... enchanting
Spay and Neuter. Travel. Boarding facilities.Further to the ethical reasons and medical benefits the procedure imparts, a spayed or neutered dog is less likely to roam or engage in risky romantic escapades.
When traveling by car, ensure windows aren't open enough for your dog to inadvertently leap out should he become startled, or impulsively pursue something outside. Likewise, take extra caution when stopping or opening car doors (as your dog may be unexpectedly agitated); and travel with his leash attached to his collar (you may be able to step on it if he does momentarily get loose).
Never leave your dog tied unattended in front of a supermarket, store, bank, or restaurant; or leave him unsupervised in an automobile (especially in an urban area, tying an unsupervised dog can result in him pet being attacked by another dog, stolen, harassed, or poisoned).Be especially watchful when it is snowing, foggy or near-dark outside... as well as whenever traveling or visiting an area unfamiliar to you or your dog: these settings can abruptly become dangerous. In all of these situations, think ahead: a modest/healthy degree of "paranoia" is valuable.
When considering a boarding facility, examine the grounds, facilities, and equipment to thoroughly analyze all the business metrics for safety:is the entirety of the facility fenced? ...do gates automatically close? ...is there protection against strangers entering the premises? ...does any equipment provide an unintended means to scale the boundaries of the property? ...are there at least two doors or other barriers between your dog and the outside at all times?Be blunt: ask what their track record is and what the business protocols are, should a dog escape.
Bertram: conspicuously aristocratic
How well do you know what your dog looks like... really? Take time to examine him closely, and write down markings or colorings that may in fact, be distinct to him: turn over his paws and note the color of his pads (sometimes it varies from paw-to-paw...
or even on the same paw),
... where an oddly-shaped patch of color (or a beginnings of grey?) is, any bumps or scars from old injuries, illness or surgery, the hue (not color) of his eyes (or that stubborn, sleepy “third eyelid” on one eye…), a spot on his tongue or end of his nose, a slightly bent ear, a chipped tooth… a perpetually weepy eye (is it left or right?) or runny nose from allergies… Measure him so that you can provide information about his height and length, and know his current weight.
The ability for you to provide specific or unique details may trigger recognition for an unfocused passer-by
or overwhelmed police or shelter worker who might otherwise see your labrador as just another “black dog.”
“The dog was cold and in pain. But being only a dog, it did not occur to him to trot off home to the comfort of the library fire and leave his master to fend for himself.”
—Albert Payson Terhune
Kinn: never less than an assiduous stroll...
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N.B.: This article is written for informational purposes. We draw your attention to issues and consumer products that are important to the subject at hand, but do not consider that our interpretation is necessarily complete. We would welcome your comments. We do not specifically endorse any of the products or services discussed here, but interpret that they may be of interest, and have provided links to stimulate creative thinking so that you may conduct your own research (links are in blue & will illuminate when you pass your mouse over them: click to be directed to a site).
You can brighten the long, lonely day of a needy dog:consider volunteering at a shelter. Your used but servicable linens, towels, bathmats, or cushions can provide comfort while he waits. Need help affording veterinary care? click HERE • Find low-cost spay neuter services: click HERE
Food & Safety Recalls/FDA Advisories for Dog Foods: click HERE
To think about: American taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to fund municipal animal shelters.
In those facilities, 14,000 animals are killed each day, often brutally: even in archaic gas chambers...
many within merely hours of their arrival: why are they called shelters?