The Lost Dog – Don’t Let It Happen To You
There is nothing more heartbreaking or distressing to the animal lover than the frightened, lonely eyes of a weary, half-starved animal trying desperately to find the owners he has lost or who – inadvertently or intentionally – have lost him.
Millions of pets each year become separated from their people, the number reunited being insignificant except for those few lucky individuals involved.
How do you keep your dog or cat from being lost and what do you do with a lost animal you have found? Let’s explore the subject of the lost pet in the hopes that fewer such tragedies will occur in the future.
As a precautionary measure – even if your dog is never allowed off his leash – your pet should always wear identification. You have no way of knowing when a leash may snap. The I.D. Tag should include your name and address, your telephone number, and the word “reward” clearly engraved.
Do NOT Place Your Dog’s Name On His Tags
Placing your dog’s name on his identification tag often helps the dognapper to lure him from you. Dognapping being a serious problem in many areas, never help these criminals by leaving your dog’s name on his I.D. Tag.
Make sure your dog’s collar fits properly. It should be large enough to allow two fingers to slip in between it and the dog’s neck, but not so large that it can slip off over his head. If you prefer using a chain training collar to walk your dog, by all means do so, but let him wear a leather collar with identification in addition to it.
Tattoos: Always A Good Choice
A more effective method of identification is tattooing. With a minimum of discomfort to your dog and a minimum of expense to you, your dog can be tattooed with your Social Security Number, giving him life-time protection, especially against the would-be thief.
The tattooed number is then registered with a central organization, such as the National Dog Registry, which will instantly supply your name and address should someone report finding your dog. Tattooing further ensures that your pet will not be used for vivisection or laboratory experimentation, since no reputable laboratory will buy an animal bearing a tattoo.
Of course, an obvious but often overlooking solution to the lost dog problem is never to allow your pet to run free. While it seems on the surface that running loose will provide your dog with exercise and enjoyment with minimal effort on your part, it will in the end cause both of you more headache than it’s worth.
Aside from potential injury by cars, other dogs and the ever-present dog-hater, your dog stands a good chance of straying so far from home that he cannot find his way back. If he does, he may starve to death, be picked up and kept by some good samaritan, or be picked up and put to death by a dog pound or humane society.
The Lost Dog – Don’t Let It Happen To You (Part 2)
Don’t let your dog off the leash if you value him or her as a pet. It’s only looking for trouble. Even the best trained dog will stray from your house or yard to follow a female in season or a companionable pooch eager for a side-kick.
Keeping your dog confined helps keep him safe. If he is allowed outside alone in your yard, make sure that the fence is too high for him to scale, too deep for him to dig under, and latched with a lock that he cannot learn to open up by himself (never underestimate a dog’s intelligence to do this).
Be sure your fence, doghouse, or run can be locked at night, or when you are not at home to prevent thieves or vandals from turning your dog loose.
Teaching Your Dog The Impossible
It is a good idea, too, to teach your dog food refusal. While this may seem to be an insane concept to consider (a dog refusing food? Yeah right!), it is indeed possible to make your dog to understand, that while he is out of doors, he is under no circumstances allowed to accept food handed to him or thrown to him over the fence.
Any good dog training manual will instruct you how to teach him this important lesson. It could very well save his life one day!
The Busy City
For city dwellers, it is important to know that tying your dog outside a store while you shop is inviting disaster, especially if your pet is or looks like a purebred. Thieves planning to sell your dog or to return it to you in exchange for a steep reward may be on the lookout for just such a tempting situation.
And kind-hearted people, positive that the poor pup has been abandoned, have been known to innocently walk off with the dog without checking if the owner is anywhere nearby. For these same reasons, a dog should never be left unattended in a car.
To keep the dog from suffocating, it is necessary to leave the window partially open. Only a small space is needed for a thief to successfully enter a locked car. If you must enter an establishment where pets are prohibited, leave your dog at home!
Countless times I have heard stories of pet owners that “loved their pups too much to keep them at home”, only to have lost their dog forever, and without knowing where they are, or if they are being kept from harm. It’s just not worth it.
The Lost Dog – Don’t Let It Happen To You (Part 3)
If your dog ever becomes lost or missing, you should teach the rest of the family to heed the following advice:
1) Comb the local area carefully. Call out your dog’s name. Have neighborhood children give you a hand and give them a reward for their help.
2) Post eye-catching signs on trees, fences, and in local stores, indicating that you are offering a reward for his return. A photo of your dog is a great help in describing him to others.
3) Call your local police precinct and give them a description of the dog.
4) Visit all animal shelters and pounds in the vicinity and explain the problem to them. Don’t just call and leave word. Shelters are far too busy to thoroughly check all their wards each time someone reports a lost pet. Go see for yourself.
5) Place an advertisement in local papers and online services. Indicate that you will handsomely reward anyone returning the dog to you, no questions asked. Some localities have radio or television shows that will help in the search for a lost pet. Contact them as well.
6) Show photographs of your pet to all involved in the search: youngsters, shelter personnel, neighbors, police, and store owners.
Finding The Owner Of A Lost Pet
If, on the other hand, you find yourself in the opposite position – trying to locate the owners of a lost animal – we suggest you proceed in a similar manner.
First, however, the animal should be given a complete physical examination by a veterinarian. Use a veterinarian in the area. Ask him if he’s ever seen the dog before. Perhaps it is one of his patients. Have the dog inoculated against distemper and leave information with the doctor about the dog in case he is contacted by the owner.
Check the Lost & Found listings in local papers. Walk the dog around the neighborhood to see if he seems to recognize anything or to see if anyone recognizes him.
Call area police stations, dog pounds, and animal shelters to see if the dog has been reported missing. Leave a “found” listing with these organizations. Do not describe the dog in great detail. Just name the breed, sex, and give a brief description. Make sure anyone responding to your listing can give you a complete description of the animal before you release him to his care.
Never, under any circumstances, turn the dog out into the street again. For to the desperate, defenseless dog, to be deprived of the love and care of a home of his own, is indeed a punishment far worse than death.
The information shared on this site is for information only. It does not take the place of professional advice from your pet’s healthcare provider.