How can I Find my Lost Dog?

Michael Pollick

For pet owners, there's rarely a more frightening experience than discovering a pet missing. In the case of a lost dog, there's often a frantic search throughout the house or yard, followed by a few dozen anxious phone calls to neighbors and local animal shelters. After that, the search turns to a slow drive through the neighborhood alleys. Sometimes the initial search efforts are rewarded, but unfortunately a dog may remain lost for several nerve-wracking hours or days. There are steps a responsible pet owner can take to aid in the search, however, including keeping the animal registered, trying to think places the dog might be attracted to, putting up posters with a photo, offering a reward, and keeping in touch with local veterinarians and animal shelters in case the animal is turned in.

It may be helpful to post flyers with a photo of the lost dog around the city.
It may be helpful to post flyers with a photo of the lost dog around the city.

One important thing is to register the animal with a veterinarian's office or the city's animal control department. All of this registration information should be placed on a collar around the dog's neck, or even implanted under the skin in a small microchip. Rescuers are more likely to make contact with the owners of a dog if they can readily identify them through a collar or identification chip.

A lost dog may be taken to a local veterinarian.
A lost dog may be taken to a local veterinarian.

It also helps to think like a lost dog while searching for one. Dogs are pack animals by nature, so they may seek out other dogs for security while away from home. If you see a pack of dogs in the neighborhood, they may lead you to your own pet eventually. Strays often frequent the same feeding grounds and the same shelters, so your animal may do the same to feed himself or to get away from the elements. A domestic dog may not find acceptance in a pack, however, so your dog may also be roaming alone near the other dogs.

It may be helpful to check the classifieds in the local newspaper for any announcements that a dog was found.
It may be helpful to check the classifieds in the local newspaper for any announcements that a dog was found.

Flyers and posters also work when searching for a lost dog. It pays to have a recent photo of your pet, as well as a detailed description of his or her appearance, including the dog's name and breed. Include contact phone numbers, but not necessarily your physical address or other personal information. A financial reward is always optional, but money can be a strong motivator for rescuers to report their discoveries. Sometimes, a lost dog will be informally adopted by his or her rescuer unless the original owner makes a concerted effort to advertise the loss.

In conjunction with a local poster and flyer campaign, an owner can place a classified ad in the local newspaper under the "Lost and Found" category. Again, a brief description of the dog should be included. Mentioning the last known location can be very helpful, since rescuers may have picked up a dog in that area earlier.

A contact phone number and the word "reward" may increase your chances of recovery. It also helps to read the classifieds for any announcements of dogs that have been found. If the description fits your pet, you might have to help defray the nominal cost of the ad, but you'll also get your animal back from someone conscientious enough to place the notice.

Maintain contact with local veterinarians, animal shelters and city animal control offices. Some rescuers will instinctively drop off a lost dog at the closest veterinarian's office or animal shelter. Others may call the city's animal control office for an anonymous pick-up.

This doesn't always end up with the pet reunited with its owner. The dog may have lost its identification collar or the veterinarian may not have the instrument needed to read the subcutaneous microchip. Make sure all of these potential drop-off locations have an accurate description of your pet and a complete set of contact numbers.

Dogs should wear their tags to better the chances of being found if lost.
Dogs should wear their tags to better the chances of being found if lost.

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Discussion Comments


My beautiful Jack Russell dog, Billy, went missing last Tuesday morning from between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Someone came to our house when we were all out and left the gates at the side of our house open and Billy got out. As soon as my family came home and discovered he was missing, they immediately went in search of him.

When I arrived home at 6 p.m. I immediately wrote flyers. I stated the following in large writing on A4 plain paper: Lost Dog - 3 & 1/2 year old male Jack Russell went missing today. If you have seen him or know his whereabouts please call this number. I provided a mobile phone number. I sticky taped the signs up and down our street around wooden poles and at the nearby park. I think I only got three hours sleep that night due to the stress and worry. The next day I called all the lost dogs homes and the city council and by 2 p.m. we received a call from a lady who had our dog. The people she worked with had seen our dog wandering around and put him in the back yard of their coffee shop for safety then went home. Thankfully, this lady had seen my flyers the next morning and realized it was the same dog and called us.

Dad picked him up (about a 2 minute walk) at the end of our street. I believe by immediately putting up flyers in your street and neighboring streets in largish writing that people can read while they are walking by (without having to stop and squint to read the small writing) is the key to finding your dog. Put them on car windows and in letterboxes if necessary. You see, if there were no flyers, I would not have seen my dog unless he was handed in and his microchip scanned. My story has a happy ending because I acted quickly. Best of luck to all lost pets and their owners.


I have lost my brand new dog we have had her for four days now and I let her out to use the bathroom and she has wondered off.

I have traveled our neighborhood looking for her and calling her name. I have a few of my neighbors on search with me and very few leads on her. I have bonded with her and grown so close to her in the last couple of days. She is a 2 year old white schnauzer and she is wearing a black collar with pink paw prints.

She came from a home where she was not really played with or cared for, so she doesn't respond to her name very well but it is on the collar. Her name is Doodle. She has a little name-tag bone hanging from her collar.


My dog went missing this week but through word of mouth on the street we have been able to track him down. The problem is the person who has him is looking like they are not going to return him. The dog is microchipped. What should I do?


My female Lhasa Apso was stolen and sold I know who has her but have no help in locating her whereabouts, the police can't help till "I" know where she is being held.

The lady drives a black Jaguar and is a caregiver and it's the two of them who have her but everyone they come into contact with helps them. How can I get them? To follow is hard because the health facility helps them and has a tech drive the car and will not lead me to where she is.

I personally have no family or friends so I am alone but I want my dog back and then and only then will I have surgery.


my dog is lost. his name's pablo. i live in vallejo. can anyone help me?


My dog was lost a few days ago, and really, i never thought i loved him that much. he was everything to me. i am not feeling well without him. I searched him everywhere. We were together for nine years. i miss him so much! i need help.


i miss my dog so much. it has been almost two months since he went missing. i still cry everyday. we have gotten very few leads. my partner wants to move on, because she can't stand the pain of thinking that maybe he is still on the loose and cold (we live in colorado and it's January). I want him back so badly. we have offered a very large reward, but no one will come forward with him.

I really would love to have closure (even if it's bad news). the lack of closure keeps my heart from healing.


In early January, my dog was in our yard, and I believe he was stolen. he is a Shih Tzu four years old, white and tan. his name is Shaggy and he is the love of my life.

he is very loved by his family. he was last seen around the south richmond hill area around 126th street and 101st avenue. we have done everything possible to bring him home. I am so worried and scared for him. please help me pray for his safe return home. thank you and good luck to you all on your pets' safe return.


i lost my three year old dog a few days ago, after we came home from a family get-together for new years. i guess she got scared of noises outside and ran away.

we don't know how, but she has done it before and always stayed in the front door, but this time, she is really gone. We posted signs, checked everywhere possible, but no clues.

It is very cold out there, and we don't know if she will survive with hunger and a limping paw. i miss her so much, her cute face and her poppy eyes. i just hope she is all right and not hurt. she was an insecure dog and every time we left her alone in backyard she went crazy and damaged something, even when she became an adult dog.

The weird thing is that my phone hasn't rung at all for the last three days. I keep waiting to hear someone calling that they found her. i just hope she is all right.


My dog was lost the morning of dec 30 and really, i never thought i loved him that much. he was like a son to me. he was so lovely. I cried so much and looked for him everywhere. We were together but still couldn't find him. i miss him so much! god please help us!


Hello my dog is lost. last night and really i never thought i loved him that much. he was like a son to me,he was so lovely. I cried so much last night and looked for him everywhere. We were together but still couldn't find him. i miss him so much! god please help us!


my sisters darling baby, tyra, a black lab and Alsatian mix breed dog has been missing for the last 24 hours. her right ear falls like a lab and other is like an Alsatian. please tell me how to get her. please pray so that we can get her back. We are trying our best. We really love her and miss her. if anybody could find her do inform us. we'll be highly thankful to you!


I have three dogs that I love as they are all family which travel with me and sleep like kings.

Last year on about august my dog was stolen and held for ransom from me. Fortunately and thankfully I was able to recover her. Not too long afterwards she was stolen again and again ransomdd. I was growing tired of this but knowing I had to do anything to get her back and it is not like the police will really take this case seriously.

The third time stolen we grew frantic as no one would would call even after we walked door to door and posted flyers everyone offering a reward. I never saw her again and still question how could she have been stolen again.

Just now beginning to recover for the agony one gets of not knowing what happened to her on hoping she was stolen for her cuteness and is being well taking care of.

My other dog has been stolen, and i fear they are after the only one i have left and devastated. i won't hear back from this one either. I just don't know what to do and i am desperate.

I just finished paying for a surgery she just went through and she would never run away from home. As i hear about the black market on the above comments i am even more devastated. Does anyone think that's what could be happening in my situation? Is it a cruel form of entertainment for them? Please, if anybody knows anything about this give me more information.

i have to investigate but i don't know where to start.


i believe my dog was picked up by a neighbor and they won't return him.


Your dogs could have been stolen and sold to a research facility!! I have seen documentaries on this horrible event. Beagles are sought after.


Not sure however i will be looking at my local flea market here in south carolina this weekend- i am exploring all options even the crazy ones to find my dog "prince" and i suggest you all do the same!


I was wondering if anyone had ever heard of dogs being sold at a flea market? Our three hounds (basset, beagle, red-bone) were all stolen within a 30 day period. Someone said that in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina they have flea markets where they sell dogs that don't necessarily need "papers." Just curious... I have researched this on the internet and have found nothing to back this up, but I have met dozens of people who know about this practice, and suspect that many of the dogs at the flea markets are stolen...

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