Help! – My Dog is Missing!
Unfortunately, many pets go missing on a daily basis. The number of missing pet posts on local lost and found sites daily are both sad and surprising. Pets can go missing for many reasons, not always at the fault of the owner. There are many precautions that can be taken to keep your pet as safe as possible from going missing. if your pet is lost, there are steps to take that will help you find your pet promptly.
Steps you can take now
Make sure your pet has been microchipped. If your pet is microchipped, make sure you have registered your pet’s id number. Also, if you have moved or changed your contact information since the initial microchip registration, double check to ensure that all information is current.
Renew and or get a dog license for your dog. A dog or cat license is the law and each county in Maryland requires a dog or cat license. A license is like having extra insurance for your pet. By having a license number, if your pet does get lost it will make it easier for a shelter, animal control or rescue to find the owner. For a nominal fee and proof of rabies vaccination, you receive a license. Visit your local counties website to download the form, some even allow you to renew online.
Always keep your dog on a leash when out and about, hiking, at parks, unfamiliar areas, and in the yard if there is no fencing. There are leash laws in every county. Dogs can also become spooked by noises or chase an animal and get lost easily.
You would think your dog would be safe from harm in the confines of a fenced in yard after all that is why many invest in a fence. However, in some areas dog theft is a sad reality. Especially in the city dog thefts have increased over the years. Criminals are waiting for you to put your dog out and then enter the yard when no one is outside, stealing the pet. Keep an eye on your pet while they are enjoying the fenced in yard and a good lock on the gate to keep criminals from entering.
Take photos of your pets. Make sure you have a few printed out and put aside that show full body at different angles and anything unique such as markings, scars, etc. The photos will help in making signs, showing neighbors, and in providing proof of ownership. (see below)
If your pet is missing
Get help from your family and neighbors if your pet has escaped from your home. If your pet went missing while out ask those you trust around you for help. Having a pet lost is an owners worst nightmare, emotions of panic and sadness will certainly take over, however trying to stay calm will help in taking immediate action and locating your pet.
_____ Call the local Animal Control and Humane Societies to file a Lost Pet Report! With the report make sure you include a photo of your pet and any markings that will help identify your pet that might not show up in the photo. Make sure they attach the photo with the report. A lost pet can travel great distances so be sure to file a report at every Animal Control, SPCA, Humane Society and rescue outside of your immediate area as well as those close to your home.
_____ Visit your local rescues to make sure that your dog isn’t there. Depending on who answers the phone that person may think your mixed breed is a pit bull when it is really a mixture of many different breeds. Bring your proof of ownership in case your dog is there. (See below for proof of ownership.)
_____ Place a piece of their bedding, article of your clothing, a shoe, some of their favorite food or treats outside your home. A dog’s scent of smell is very strong; they can smell for miles. A familiar object with their scent may help guide your pet back home. Also leave a bowl of water and some of their food out.
_____ While searching bring a treat bag and one of your dog’s favorite toys with you, especially if the toy makes noise. While calling their name also use the toy sound. Be careful not to call your dog’s name while standing near a busy road. If your dog is close by and comes running it could be very dangerous.
_____ Look in hidden places that a dog may hide if injured or scared.
_____ Call local veterinary offices to let them know about your lost pet. Someone may have found your injured pet and taken them directly to the vet vs. a shelter.
_____ Make signs – Include a photo, description, day and evening phone number. DO NOT put your address for your safety.
_____ Stay Safe While Searching – Never search for your pet alone. If someone responds to your sign, and you have confirmed that it is your pet always meet in a public place. Unfortunately, there are many scams and horrible people that prey on owners of lost pets.
_____ Use the internet – All counties in Maryland have a Lost and Found Facebook page, there is also a Lost and Found Animals of MD page. The above safety warning also applies to the internet, there are even more criminals that try to take advantage of lost pet owners so be careful.
_____ A very popular local group, Dogs Finding Dogs is also an option for finding your missing dog.
Proof Of Ownership
When your dog or pet is found, you will need to provide proof of ownership. The best way to do this is by the pet’s microchip being matched to your proof of address and identity. You should also bring a few photos of different body shots, especially if there is a marking unique to your dog make sure you have a photo of your dog showing the marking. Bring your proof of identity, showing your address and proving you are who you say you are so they can match with collar, tag, microchip, and license information. Unfortunately if someone finds your animal, they may not be willing to return your pet to you, especially with certain breeds. If this happens contact law enforcements to help and have an officer accompany you to pick up the animal if it is safe.