By Maja Ferrell
Customer Service Follow-up Specialist
Just this past weekend my husband and I opened our home to a lost dog. We decided to spend our weekend enjoying a short camping trip with our own two dogs. Our car was packed and we were ready to have a great time hiking in the fall. We were about two hours away from our home, driving along a rural dirt road when suddenly we came upon a dog. We pulled over and quickly discovered that the dog was incredibly friendly with both us and our dogs. He accompanied us on our trip down the road while we continued to actively search for his family. Though we don’t know what his owners call him, we’ve been referring to him as “Dingo” since he is an Australian Cattle Dog. Dingo asked that we share with you his top 5 tips on helping a lost dog make their way home:
- Approach with Caution
First and foremost, it is important to remember to be cautious. As you are approaching an animal that you are not familiar with, it is essential to be aware that often times scared or injured dogs that are normally very friendly may become aggressive. Use treats, talk in a slow calming voice, and stay close to the ground as you attempt to gain the dog’s trust, and have them approach you. Do not chase the dog as this may cause them to run out of the area that they have become familiar with and may potentially prolong the time that they are lost. If you are unable to safely get your hands on the dog you can report a lost dog sighting to the local animal shelter.
- Look for Identification
Once you have determined that the dog you have found is friendly, you can begin looking them over for anything that could help identify the owners. Does the dog have a collar with tags? Even if the tags are not current the local police department or animal control may still be able to locate the family based the information. Even a collar without tags can help identify a dog to a family that is searching for their pet. For example, a black lab found wearing a red collar may stand out to someone that knows the dog and can alert the owners. If the dog does not have a collar or tags it is important to bring them to a local veterinary clinic where they can be scanned for a microchip. Microchips have been proven to be lifesaving in reuniting lost pets and their owners.
- Start Calling
If the dog you have found does not have any tags and is not microchipped, it is time to start calling around. By contacting local veterinary clinics, the local police, and animal control, you are able to get the information out and make it easier for the owners to contact you. Based on where you found the animal, the local police or animal control may have laws on what you must do when finding a lost pet. It is important to ask them what guidelines you should follow.
- Use Social Media
With the gravity of social media now you may be able to locate the animal’s family by simply making and sharing a post. Ask your friends and family to ‘share’ your lost dog post in order to reach a wider audience. Often times there are “lost dog” pages in your area or state that will happily share the animal’s information. Craigslist is also a great resource to utilize and post a lost dog ad. It is important though to confirm that the people claiming the dog is in fact theirs. You can do this by leaving out a piece of information. For example, you can leave the fact that they have a white spot on their back out of your post and ask potential owners about it. You can also confirm ownership by asking to see a photo of the dog prior to being lost.
Occasionally, it can take a little while for you and the dog’s owner to get in contact with one another. If you are not able to keep the dog at your home you can contact the local animal shelter or veterinary clinics in the area to see if they will be able to keep the animal while you search for the owners.
Sadly, we have not yet been able to reunite Dingo with his family, but we are following the above tips and are checking our phones often in case the owners try to contact us. In the meantime, he has been enjoying spending time in our home and having a “sleepover” with his new dog friends. Dingo thanks you for helping lost dogs like him!