Losing an animal, be it a dog, cat, rabbit or hamster, is one of the worst feelings a pet owner can experience. However it happened, when a pet is lost, panic can start to take hold and potential scenarios begin to unfurl. There are some immediate steps one should take if a pet is lost and there are some alternative steps one can take as well. Keep in mind, in Chicago, if a lost dog or lost animal is picked up by Animal Care and Control (312-744-5000), an owner has only five days to reclaim their lost dog or animal before ownership rights are terminated. (PAWS.org website)
First things first, it is important to remember social networks online have a much broader and faster reach than traditional paper flyers. That being said, yes, print out and post flyers (BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE DATE ON THE FLYER!), with pertinent information about your lost pet: time, date and place last seen, the animal’s name, important traits (is the dog skittish or aggressive?), phone numbers, email addresses, and perhaps a quick response code a smartphone user can scan to find a facebook page or contact information or a community blog with a posting about the lost animal. Some sites suggest including a photo and others do not. Including a recent photo is probably a safer bet than not including one.
Post these flyers where people congregate and communicate like coffee shops, dog parks, shelters, pet retail stores, the vet’s office in your neighborhood. Do not try to hit every spot, but try to focus your efforts on places where dog owners/animal lovers would likely be communicating with one another.
While someone is posting flyers around the neighborhood, someone else can immediately start going online and letting the internet work to find your lost pet. Community blogs, twitter accounts, facebook pages and websites are a great resource for putting your community into action. In Chicago, neighborhood blog sites like DNAinfo, the Logansquarist, Wicker Park Bucktown Insider, etc. have a large, local reach with many followers who will keep their eyes peeled for you. These sites may be able to post your lost pet’s information and picture on their twitter and facebook pages. A quick google search should bring up your neighborhood’s relevant local blogs and community posting sites. Do not underestimate the reach of community posting sites like Everyblock.com. These sites work and your neighbors will respond to you.
For a broader online reach, lostdogsillinois.org is an excellent resource for finding a lost dog. Fidofinder.com is a national (and international) database that can focus on specific cities and areas. Craigslist pet’s section is an additional option that has a large reach and potential for success.
Reach out to local dog walking companies and ask them to use their reach and resources to help. We often take pictures of lost dog flyers we see and post them on our facebook and twitter pages. It is also a good idea to include pull tabs on your flyers with contact information or ask the walkers to take a picture of the flyer to have the information stored with them.
We’ve had folks reach out to us over the years and more often than not, their efforts are met with success. Remember to communicate with your local shelters and community organizations. If your lost dog or animal is microchipped, a vet or shelter can scan for that information. Lastly, make sure your animals tags and microchips are up to date and accurate. We hope this information can help if you ever find yourself in this position.