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What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

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Lost Dog Returns
Photo:  Lost Dog Returns to Owner

One of the biggest fears of a dog owner is if their beloved pet runs off or escapes and does not return or worse still is stolen.

As a dog owner, you  should always make sure your dog is wearing an ID Tag on its collar then your dog can be quickly returned to you if it’s lost. Your dog should also be microchipped which will ensure that it has permanent identification so that there is more chance you will be quickly reunited with your dog.  Always ensure that you have an up to date clear photo of your dog in case you need to make a lost dog poster.

If your dog does is lost it will be extremely distressing for both of you so you need to act quickly. 

What to do if your dog is lost whilst out walking
If you lose your dog when you are out and about walking, you need to give it a little time to search in that area and allow time for your dog to come looking for you. Your dog may have momentarily been distracted and could be searching for you in the area, I know my dog doesn’t like me to be out of his sight and will come looking for me.

Go to the place where you last saw your dog and call it‘s name, shout “come”, whistle and do what you usually do when you want your dog to come to you. 

Tell everyone you meet in the near vicinity that you have lost your dog, giving them a description, the dogs name and your phone number.

If your dog does not return within about 5 minutes re-track your steps along the route you were walking calling it all the while, if your dog still does not return to you after a period of time, then it’s time to take further action.

What to do if your dog escapes from your garden
No matter how secure your garden is, some dogs are really good at escaping. If you notice your dog has gone then first of all check the surrounding area and knock on all your closest neighbours doors. Stay at home as your dog may very well return after a period of time. If your dog does not return it is time to take further action.

What to do if your dog is stolen
Reports of dogs being stolen are on the increase especially with the cost of popular breeds being so high, thieves are tempted to steal a dog for breeding or to sell it on. There are precautions you can take to prevent your dog being stolen

  • never leave your dog tied up outside a shop, it's a very easy target. 
  • never leave your dog in your garden when you are not close by or watching it.  
  • never leave your dog in the car
  • consider having a tracking device or GPS system on your dogs collar which would alert you if your dog goes a distance away from you. 
  • you should have your dog microchipped, if it is stolen it can quickly be identified if taken to the vets. 

If your dog is stolen you should alert the police , as it is a crime.

What to do if your dog has not returned to you or is not found :-

  • contact your Council's Dog Warden Service or Animal Shelter and see if they have it
  • contact every local dogs home within 30 mile radius and check if your dog has been handed in
  • check with your local police station, some people do contact them when they find a lost dog
  • check with all the vets in your area, people often take dogs they find to the vets to see if they are microchipped
  • make up a flyer/poster with “LOST DOG” at the top and a clear photo and description of your dog plus details of where it was last seen and your contact details. Hand them out to other dog walkers and place them everywhere possible within the area and vets, pet shops, groomers, dog trainers, local shops, pubs etc..
  • check your veterinary surgery and local shop or supermarket notice boards - someone may have placed a notice that they have found a dog
  • post notices on websites and other social networking sites such as twitter and facebook
  • advertise in the Lost Pet section of your local papers.

Unfortunately there are people who may take advantage of your misfortune, so it is best not to offer a reward on your posters and not to include your address.

In the UK,  if a council's dog warden has your dog and they are able to identify you as the owner, you'll be sent a notice to come and collect it. You are more than likely to be charged for the time it has been kept in a kennel and the council can legally keep your dog until you have paid all the charges due. If you don't collect your dog within seven days of the notice being served, the dog warden will try and find it a new home.

Always have hope and do not give up searching, many dogs are found a long time after they disappear.

Websites to post a Lost Dog notice:

If you are in the UK post your lost dog advert to the following websites:

If in Scotland
LostDogs Scotland

If you are in the USA post to the following websites