Today, I’m taking a break from skin care advice to give you tips on how to find a missing pet. Recently, there was a mishap with someone walking our dog, Baci, and she was left on the sidewalk in downtown San Francisco. We had no idea what to do, so I’ve put together some information that I learned through the process.
The first tip is to expect the unexpected. Our dog ran 7 miles in the opposite direction of our home. We kept hoping that she would show up at our door, so we posted flyers in the neighborhood where she had been last seen. Practically everyone asked me “did you have your dog chipped?” and were surprised that I couldn’t find her with the chip. The pet has to be captured first in order to be scanned.
Microchip versus Tracking Devices
Most pets these days have microchips implanted just under their skin by a vet. These chips store a unique ID number that is used to retrieve the pet parent’s contact information. Veterinarian clinics and shelters have the equipment to scan the chip and collect the data stored inside. While contact information is essential, chips cannot be used to track the whereabouts of your pet. Tracking devices with GPS (Global Positioning System), are used for tracking, and require a power source such as a battery. At this point, they also need a small amount of cellular data. We found several interesting brands. However, we decided to purchase the Whistle. We bought it on sale for $50 along with a cellular package that is less than $5 a month. Well worth our peace of mind! If our dog gets lost, we can use the app on our phone and click a button that says “Directions to Baci” or zoom into her location.
There are other tracking devices out now like the TrackR Bravo and the Tile. Currently, these wouldn’t be ideal since the range uses Wi-Fi alone. These are great tools if your pet is in your home or yard and you are having difficulty finding their hiding place, but not out on the street.
Make sure you always have a collar with tags on your pet. We were contacted immediately by the police officer who found our dog. If she hadn’t had tags, she would have ended up at the shelter, and the whole chip scanning process would have taken longer.
Notify the City
Call your local shelter and ask to file a missing pet report. They may ask you to come in person to fill it out, but some shelters take it over the phone. You will want to visit the shelter daily and walk through the kennels.
File Missing Pet reports with as many of the local police stations as you can, and bring or send photos for the beat cops to have on hand.
If you have Microsoft Word, you can type into the search area: Lost Pet Flyers, download the template, and insert your pet’s picture, and specific information. If you don’t have a printer, you can find your local print shop, e.g., FedEx Print Shop and email them the file. Once you have flyers in hand, tape them with an easy-to-remove tape or use a staple gun because you will need to remove all the flyers later.
Ask as many friends, family and neighbors to help spread the word. We are part of a neighborhood network called Nextdoor.com, and we were overwhelmed with gratitude at the number of neighbors that came out to help us.
Nextdoor – Post in these three sections: Lost and Found, General, and Alert
Facebook has pet lost and found sections for each area
Craigslist has two sections: Lost and Found and Pets
Unfortunately, some animals are found or stolen and held for ransom and rewards, so keep checking the online sites.
Recording Your Voice or Whistle
On the day our dog went missing, I had a cold and had lost my voice. My friend and I came up with the idea to record myself calling Baci’s name and, also, the way that I use to call her. Since it’s a digital file, you can email the recording to your search party network, and they can play it from their phone while helping with the search.
If you see a scared animal, who is obviously someone’s pet, here is a link to some tips on a safe capture, which has surprisingly interesting information. Once captured, take them to a vet clinic or animal shelter, and the pet will be scanned for a microchip and returned more quickly to their family. If you are unable to capture the pet for any reason, please call the local shelter to report it. Shelters send officers out regularly to catch lost pets.
Lost Pets in the Woods
A dear friend sent me the note below. I don’t know who the original author is, but I found value in it.
“On day 12 of searching for my dog in a heavily wooded area, distraught and hopeless, I ran into a couple of hunters and they gave this advice:
The dog owner(s) should take an article of clothing that you’ve worn at least all day, the longer, the better, so the lost dog can pick up the scent. Bring the article of clothing to the location where the dog was last seen and leave it there. Also, if the dog has a crate and familiar toy, you can bring those too (unless the location is undesirable for the crate). You might also want to leave a note requesting item(s) not to be moved. Leave a bowl of water there too, as the dog probably hasn’t had access to any. Do not bring food as this could attract other animals that the dog might avoid. Come back the next day, or check intermittently if possible. Hopefully, the dog will be waiting there. I was skeptical and doubted my dog would be able to detect an article of clothing if he didn’t hear me calling his name as loud as possible all day for 12 days. But, I returned the next day and sure enough found him sitting there!”
Prepare preemptively by storing the contact information of your local shelters and police stations in your phone. Every minute counts when you’re missing your best friend. During times of stress and grief, you can’t think clearly, so it’s best to have everything at your fingertips. Hopefully, you’ll prepare yourself, get the GPS tracker and never have to use any of these tips. Best of luck to you and your furry friends.