Prepare a Missing-Dog Kit for the Family Dog

by TerryMcNamee

Someone leaves a gate or a door open. It's panic time: the dog is gone! Having an emergency search kit ready can prevent wasted time in tracking down a lost pet.

By Terry McNamee © 2013

When a beloved dog disappears and a search turns up no sign of him, people tend to panic. Preparing ahead of time for such an event is easy and could save the dog’s life. The first thing to do is make a folder, envelope or box to contain all the information needed for a search, and mark it with something like “Lost Dog Emergency Kit” so it can be identified quickly. Keep it in a secure place and make sure all adults and older children know where it is. Put a spare collar and leash in the kit, in case the dog got loose while wearing his regular leash and collar. They could come off while he is lost. It is essential to include current photographs. They should be clear and show two views of the dog standing on a flat surface and one of the face. Include close-ups of any identifying marks such as a tattoo or scar. These photo can be taken specifically for the kit if none are already on hand.

This photo shows the markings on the dog's left side and face.
This photo shows the markings on the dog's left side and face.

Kit Should Contain Proof of Ownership and List of Emergency Numbers

If the dog is taken in by someone else, has been stolen or ends up in shelter, proof of ownership may be needed to get him back. Have a copy of the dog tag numbers, microchip number, registration certificate (if there is one) and a couple of photos of the owner and the dog together. A copy of a vet bill for him shows that the dog is being cared for and that a vet can verify ownership.

Since a missing dog is an emergency situation, include phone numbers and street addresses for all area animal shelters, pounds, vet clinics, dog obedience clubs and rescue centres. It’s easier to have the numbers readily available than trying to look them up during a stressful time.

If the dog isn’t found quickly, call all these numbers and describe the dog in case he has been turned in to one of them. If he has been injured while loose, he might have been taken to a vet clinic for treatment.

Facebook has been used very successfully to spread the word of a lost dog and help reunite him with his owner. Get his photos and your contact information posted quickly.

Put Up Lost Dog Posters

If the dog doesn’t show up in a few hours, canvas the neighbourhood. Make posters with his photo on them and a contact phone number. Dogs can roam a long ways, so keep widening the circle with posters as time passes. Put them on poles, in convenience stores, at pet food stores, vet clinics, animal shelters, even the library if allowed.

Schools are another place to look. Ask in the office if a missing dog poster can be put up where the students will see it. Children tend to notice loose dogs, and many dogs often gravitate towards groups of children at schools, playgrounds and parks when they are lost.

If the dog has been purchased from someone else fairly recently and it’s possible he’s trying to find his way back there, call his former owner to be on the lookout for him. If you have moved recently, call your former neighbours and ask the realtor or landlord to contact the new residents to watch for your dog in case he returns to his former home.

Vacationing, Boarding or Using a Pet Sitter? Keep a Kit Handy

When at the cottage or visiting away from home, if the dog is with you, bring the kit. And if the dog is boarded or left with someone else, leave a duplicate of the kit with the person caring for the dog. If using a pet sitter, be sure the person knows where the kit is and what it is for.

If you decide to board the dog or use a pet sitter, make sure other people know you are doing it and who has your dog. If the dog is stolen or lost while in the other person's care, it will help prove that the individual did have custody of the dog when it disappeared. Sadly, there are people out there who use home care for pets as an opportunity to steal and sell your dog.

Having a dog disappear is terribly stressful for the family he belongs to. Take all precautions to prevent a dog from escaping, but be prepared by putting this kit together, just in case.

Finally, be sure your dog is microchipped. If he is found, that chip could be the key in getting him returned to you.

Four-Legged Miracles: Heartwarming Tales of Lost Dogs' Journeys Home

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Updated: 05/13/2013, TerryMcNamee
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