As a dog owner, one of the worst things that can happen is the disappearance of your pet dog. It’s important to learn how to protect a lost or stolen dog.
Many dogs that escape from the confines of their homes will run off to explore the neighborhood, but are unable to find their way home. They may dig under your fenced-in yard, or dash from the car when you open the door.
What’s even more tragic is when a pet is stolen, which most often happens with purebred dogs. There is a continual thriving black market for purebred dogs, and thieves will often steal valuable ones and resell them to unscrupulous breeders or advertise them for sale in local newspapers. I have even seen purebred dogs advertised for sale on grocery store bulletin boards at prices that are drastically lower than what a purebred dog should cost. An obvious sign that something’s not right.
You should learn how to protect your dog from becoming lost or stolen and also take actions that will help increase the likelihood of finding your dog if the worst does happen.
Being responsible for your dog means protecting it, supervising it and knowing where it is at all times. Avoid leaving your dog alone in the yard for any lengthy period of time. Dogs need companionship and they will become easily bored when left alone. They’ll dig under the fence and escape, or try to jump or climb over the fence. In some suburban areas, dog nappers (yes, there is a term for these thieves) patrol neighborhoods looking for dogs left alone.
If your yard is fenced and your dog spends time there alone, you need to secure the fence to protect your dog. Don’t let your dog run off its leash in an unfenced yard. If your pet is prone to trying to get past you every time you open the door, keep your foot in the way of the open door to block the exit. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car or leave it tied to a post or bench outside a place of business while you run inside “just for a minute.” A minute might be all that is needed for your dog to escape and start exploring, or for a dog napper to come along and steal away your prized possession.
Your dog should have its collar on at all times, and the collar should always have current identification attached. Too many dogs are picked up by animal control officers, and with no ID to identify a dog, you would never be notified that your dog is in an animal shelter. Dogs not claimed in shelters do not have a long life span. Buy the best collar and ID tag for your dog that you can afford and keep them on your dog. If your dog is lost and then found, the ID will help it to be safely returned to you.
Sometimes it can be tempting to let your dog run off-leash but every time your dog is off-leash in an unfenced area you’re taking a risk of losing it. Even well-trained dogs can run off. A passing cat or other small animal can send your dog racing after the prey. If you lose sight of your dog it may not find the way home. Always using a leash is the safest way of keeping your dog in sight.
Microchips are a great way to permanently identify your dog. The chips are as small as a grain of rice and are implanted under the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. They can’t fall off or be removed like a collar can, and they last for the life of your dog. If your dog is lost and subsequently scanned by animal control, the chip can be traced back to you. This not only makes it easier for you to get your lost dog back, but also proves that the dog belongs to you. You do need to be sure to keep your contact information current with the microchip company. It is still important to keep a collar with ID on your dog, just in case your dog ends up in a place where no scanner is available.
If despite your best efforts, your dog becomes lost or stolen, take immediate action. If you suspect theft, contact your local law enforcement agency. Post signs where they are easily visible, contact local animal hospitals and shelters, and canvass your neighborhood. If you are unsuccessful at locating your lost pet at an animal shelter or pet hospital, post a lost dog ad in the local newspaper and list your dog online at lost dog databases like Fido Finder which is the largest public database of lost and found dogs. Lost dog owners and lost dog finders can post classified ads, search listings, print posters, and receive automated email notifications when matching dogs are registered on the website.
Learning how to protect your lost or stolen dog increases your chances of bringing it safely back home.