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What to do if you lose a dog?
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What to do if you lose a dog:
Act immediately!


Get as many people together to help you as you can: family, friends etc. and ask them to work in pairs, if possible, searching for the dog up to a 2 mile radius from where it was last seen.   Tell anyone you meet that you are searching for a lost dog and that posters will be up the next day with a description of your dog and a contact mobile no.   Make a point of talking to anyone and everyone: those delivering post, papers, milk etc., refuse collectors, people working on roads/buildings etc., schoolchildren and their parents.   Carry leaflets with you at all times (see Publicity).  Drive or walk the area calling the dog.   Have 2 people in the car, one driving, one looking.   If your dog has a favourite squeaky toy take it with you as dogs can hear sounds over long distances.   If there is a comforting sound, or a sound such as the noise of a treat bag it normally responds to, then try that too.   Take some smelly food with you such as liver cake. Always drive slowly making stops every five minutes.   It is important that you allow your dog time to determine the direction of your calls.   Tall buildings, high hills, wind can all distort the direction of sound. Check parks and schools, especially if your dog is friendly to strangers. Carry a strong flashlight at all times as it could be frightened or injured and hiding in a secluded area.   A dog that is frightened will bolt in any direction, but usually to a quiet, dark area, so it would choose woods over open fields. If you see your dog, do not run towards it, stand still or sit down and let it approach you.   It may be frightened or hurt and panic, so allow it time to feel safe.  If the wind is blowing into the dogs face it may not recognize you right away.   If your dog runs away, don’t give up, leave some food and stay/return to that area.
If practical leave an article of your clothing bearing your scent where your dog was last seen.
Leave the gate to your home open in case it returns.


Report your dog as missing to the police straight away – if you suspect your dog may have been stolen, report it as such, ask for this to be recorded and get a crime no.
Contact local dog wardens
Contact R/SSPCA; Dogs Trust and all rescue kennels in the surrounding area.    Don’t just contact those nearest you - dogs can travel very far in a short period of time.
Contact all local Vets
In case there has been a road traffic accident contact your local Refuse Dept and Highways Dept.
If your dog is a pedigree or particular combination of breeds contact breed rescues throughout
the country.   Keep in touch with them and keep its profile high.   There are many kind
volunteers out there, but this is your dog and you are the one who thinks about it constantly and
loves it most.
Use the internet and contact “Lost and Found” sites.   Post a recent photo and detailed
description of where it was lost and when.   This is the quickest method of spreading information
throughout the country.
It is important that you visit local rescue organisations every few days to ensure that your dog is
not there.   This applies even if your dog is micro-chipped, or has tattoos.   Mistakes are
sometimes made.   No-one knows your dog better than you!

Publicity!   Publicity!   Publicity!

Make up some posters and put them up on lampposts around the area and beyond where your dog went missing.

Posters: use 8.5” X 11” fluorescent laminated paper as this is highly visible and will withstand the weather conditions; use a recent photo if available - if not, describe your dog as clearly as you can, using a breed photo if that is applicable.   Say whether it is micro-
chipped or has tattoos, or has any unusual features.   Give age, sex, size; describe collar if any;
state where and when it went missing.   Give a contact mobile phone no: in case of nuisance calls
this can be changed.

Offer a Reward?   This is subject to debate, but it could encourage someone who otherwise might not bother, to contact you about your dog.  Take a poster to each of the rescue organisations you have alerted locally and ask them to display it.   Ask if local Vets,
newsagents, supermarkets, pet shops, petrol stations, any businesses that people use locally, will
display them.   Put them up along your regular walk route.
Have some leaflets printed and put them through letterboxes.   Hand them out to postmen, dustmen, those doing paper deliveries, milk rounds and anyone else you can think of who travels throughout the area.


If your dog is a show dog, stud dog or has had specialist training it is not advisable to advertise this fact.
Don’t put your name or address on the poster.
Never go on your own to meet someone claiming to have your dog.   Go with a friend in daylight
to a public place.
Difficult as it is, initially be cautious of “found calls” as sadly there are some very unscrupulous
people out there.

Other things you might do:

Find out if your local paper might consider printing a small article along with a photograph – try to think of some particular characteristic of your dog, the effect on your family, or the way in which it disappeared which might make them think it would be an interesting feature.   Try contacting your local radio station.
Put an advert in your local/national paper, preferably with a recent photograph.
Consider offering a reward.
Check Found columns in newspapers every day.
Make it clear that you are out there looking for your dog and in case of theft - make it too hot to handle!
Always remember some dogs have travelled hundreds of miles over a long period of time before being re-united with their owners.
You Love Your Dog – Don’t give up!

Useful organisations to contact:
Police (local and surrounding area’s)
Dog warden
Local Rescues
Breed Specific rescues (post on all forums)
Local vets
Local pet shops


Thank you to Denise MacGregor for writing this article for Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary.