lost dog Archives - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

Steps to take if your dog goes missing & preventative tips to keep your pups safe

April 23rd is National Lost Dog Awareness Day, and here at Hot Diggity, we know just how much your dog means to you. In honor of this day, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to get your best friend home safe as quickly as possible should they ever become lost, as well as a few preventative measures you may take to avoid this heart-wrenching experience to begin with!

Prevention before panic!

In a perfect world, you’d never have to experience the panic of losing your dog to begin with. Thankfully there are steps we can take to protect our pups and prevent our potential heartache!

Spay & neuter your pets

Spaying and neutering has a plethora of benefits. Not only will you be helping to reduce pet homelessness, studies have shown that neutering will decrease sexual roaming in about 90 percent of cases! The sooner you spay or neuter your pup, the better – intact males may continue to roam after being neutered if they have established a prior pattern.

Pet-proof your home & yard

Outside, ensure that your fence is secure and there are no gaps that your dog can squeeze through. Fluffy dogs can be surprisingly small underneath all that floof – make sure there is nowhere they could wiggle through. However, even with a secure fence, it’s best to never leave your dog unsupervised. Dogs can frequently find a way to dig their way out even if security measures are taken – or they could eat something that could be potentially dangerous.

If your dog has a tendency to door dash when indoors, you can install baby gates to block them from bolting to the door when people are coming and going. Make sure to let people know that you have a pet before they arrive to your home and communicate with them how best to enter and exit without your pooch escaping.

Leash up your pup 

Keep your dog leashed when outside – even the most well behaved dog may get startled or decide to chase something unexpectedly.

Identification 

All of your pets should have identification that includes your contact information. A tag on their collar with your address or phone number works well, but microchipping is the ideal choice, because tags can be ripped off or become worn to the point of being illegible. Animal shelters and veterinary offices can scan microchips to get your pet’s ID and contact you immediately. 

If your pet is already microchipped, please be sure your microchip data is current. For example – did you change your phone number from the date of your pets’ chip implant? Move to a different address? Do you know where your pet is registered? Are they registered? Do you have to pay an annual fee to remain registered? 

Most microchip companies have an online system where you can update your contact information, and most veterinarians don’t update microchip information. Take the time to find out this information now and not when you’re in search mode – in an unexpected circumstance, it could save the day!

Get your pup a license!

Did you know most counties require your pup to be licensed? Many veterinarians also sell licenses for the convenience of their clients when your dog gets their rabies shot – ask your local veterinarian! Once you have one, make sure it’s kept current (typically, there is a yearly fee associated with them). The main benefit is that if an Animal Services Officer finds your dog loose and your dog is wearing his license tag, they can often return your dog directly to you without your pup ever going to the shelter. It will also save you money! Impound fees for a licensed dog are typically much lower than an unlicensed dog.

Addressing behavioral & emotional issues

Even the most well-behaved dogs may try to escape if they’re scared enough. This problem is especially common during summer thunderstorms or fireworks. These loud booms can send even mild-mannered dogs into a frenzy. In a desperate attempt to escape the terrifying sounds, dogs may leap through windows, bust through screen doors, or even scale high fences. Securing your dog during thunderstorms and fireworks will help keep her safe. We recommend soothing your pup’s fears of loud noises with calming treats, white noise, or calming shirts.

Maybe your dog is running away just because they’re bored? If you’re not providing your dog with something to do, there’s a good chance he’ll come up with his own ideas. In many cases, this means he’ll take himself on an adventure! Solve this by supervising your dog, giving him proper exercise, mental stimulation, and of course plenty of love!

So your pup is lost, what now?

Even with proper prevention, animals can go missing. While panicking is inevitable (this is your best friend after all), take heart in knowing the vast majority of lost pets come home! An ASPCA survey found that 74 percent of lost cats and 93 percent of lost dogs were recovered.

Beginning the search

Start your search right away! Search nearby by car and foot first to see if you can spot your dog before he gets too far. Call your pet’s name in a happy tone, shake a box of treats, or squeak their favorite toy. Ask neighbors, delivery workers, and letter carriers if they have seen your pet. Generally, dogs are found within a two-mile radius of their home. Remember, you know your dog best! Outgoing dogs may seek out other dogs and friendly humans likely to comfort, feed, and shelter them. Search neighbors’ yards and public spaces where your dog may like to roam. Dogs that are shy, older, or untrusting of strangers may hide in places like bushes or under cars.

Spam social media

Post a lost-pet notice on your Facebook page and ask friends to share! Then post on local lost pet Facebook pages, and sites like Craigslist and Nextdoor. Facebook groups for lost pets tend to be extremely friendly and helpful – may of them have moderators passionate about reuniting people and their pets and will offer to help you search in person or begin searching known online databases for found dogs that match your pups description.

Contact your local animal shelters & animal control

Checking with your local shelters and animal control is critical, as that’s most likely the first place someone who has found your dog will go. Going to the shelter in-person is best, as no one knows your pet better than you do! Many shelters have a holding period of less than a week so it’s crucial to check if your pet is there daily. Be sure to contact animal control agencies and file a report at shelters within a 50-mile radius of your home. Don’t trust the shelter to call you if an animal comes in that looks like your lost pet; they are extremely busy, and you wouldn’t want to chance them missing the connection.

Scour the internet

There are many online databases that you can use to post lost and found pets. PawBoost, Fido Finder, and Finding Rover are popular ones. Be sure not to restrict your searches to a specific breed, as others may describe your pet differently.

Flyers, flyers, flyers!

Post flyers in your neighborhood and public places like grocery stores, veterinary offices, and traffic intersections. Describe your pet by age, sex, weight, breed, and color – adding a photo if possible. Be sure to include your contact information, when & where the dog went missing, and what you want people to do if they see your dog (call you, try to catch him, etc.) Consider using neon posters instead of standard paper which can be easily overlooked.

July 4th usually means lots of fireworks, and lots of fireworks can cause some serious anxiety for your pets. Here are a few friendly ways to help keep your pets calm when the show begins:

  1. Keep your pets indoors before the fireworks are set to begin. If they need to go outside, be sure to keep them on a leash.
  2. If possible, keep your pets with you. They will feel the most at ease in your presence.
  3. If you plan on being away from home, avoid leaving your pet alone. Having someone around with whom your pets are familiar with is a great alternative. (We’ll be there with extra snuggles if you need us!) If you plan on taking pets to a boarding facility, take them for a visit beforehand or use a place they are already familiar with. A new experience combined with the loud noises can cause extra stress.
  4. If there are lots of fireworks in your neighborhood, it’s not a bad idea to start preparing your pet by acclimating them to the sound of fireworks. Playing recordings or videos will help prep your pets so they’re not completely caught off guard the night of the celebrations.
  5. Drown out the loud booms by playing music or having the TV on at a decently loud volume.
  6. Make sure the blinds and curtains are closed.
  7. Keep in mind that many pets love to crawl into confined spaces when they are scared. Dogs, in particular, may want to be in their kennel or hide under the bed. Allow them access to these spaces to seek out extra comfort.
  8. For pets who already have major anxiety, you may want to ask your vet about a mild sedative or look into purchasing a ThunderShirt.
  9. Provide your pets with lots of extra exercise that day to help wear them out.
  10. Give your pets something fun to play and occupy their attention such as a Kong toy filled with treats or xylitol-free dog-safe peanut butter or new catnip toys for your cats.
  11. Make sure all garbage cans and bags are well sealed so a curious or anxious dog doesn’t decide to go after the leftovers from your BBQ or picnic or munch on shiny fireworks remnants looking for food.

And remember, all pets should have their collar on with identification tags in case you get separated. If they’re microchipped, make sure the information is up to date. New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July are the two biggest days of the year for pets on the loose.

By taking some precautions to comfort them we can help keep our furry friends safe and calm so we can all enjoy celebrating!

Sources: dovelewis.org, positively.com, cesarsway.com

 

Have you ever walked or driven down the street and noticed a stray dog nearby? We have too, so we put together this guide so you can help reunite a lost pup with their family.

Here are 14 tips to help ensure a happy ending:

  1. Assess the safety of the situation. You don’t know the medical history of the pet or how fearful they are of people or other animals, so be very cautious to watch their behavior to  avoid spooking them or getting nipped yourself. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. If it’s not quite an emergency, but you’re unable to help the dog, call your local county animal control services. For county resources, see below.
  2. If the situation does seem safe enough to proceed, be sure neither of you are in a position where trying to catch them will put either of you at risk of getting hit by a car. If you discovered the lost pet while driving, make sure you’re parked safely and legally.
  3. If they’re not dragging a leash, it’s a good idea to have a spare leash handy so that you can lead them away safely. If you’re with your own dog, don’t remove their leash to use for the strange dog. You don’t want to put your dog at risk of running away or getting hit by a car either.
  4. Dogs will read your body language so try not to act scared or surprised at seeing them. They’re likely already afraid and you acting strange compared to how anyone normally behaves around them will likely make them even more fearful and distrustful of you.
  5. Sometimes if you act excited to see them (as if you’d seen them while they were on leash with their owner) then they’ll respond positively. Smile, use a happy voice, act as if you’re happy to see them. Lots of dogs find car rides really exciting and may even jump in your car easily if you hold the door open like you’re about to take them to the dog park.
  6. If you can catch them, make sure to first check for a collar and any information on it. Oftentimes dogs have just escaped from their backyards nearby. If they still have a collar on, there is likely a phone number or an address.
  7. If there is no identification on them or you found them far away from any residential dwellings, a vet might be able to scan for a microchip and provide contact information.
  8. If the dog is injured or ill, DoveLewis will not turn them away. Once they are well enough to go to a shelter (usually within 24 hours of arriving at DoveLewis) they will be transferred to the local shelter.
  9. But first, stay in the area for a little while (if it’s safe for you and the dog) and keep an ear out for owners in your area who might be yelling for their lost pet. If you’re in a neighborhood you might try walking the dog around a bit to see if they get particularly excited toward any specific homes.
  10. Check the LOST pet sections of Craigslist as well as your local animal services agency and then check again in a few hours or the next day if you still can’t find the owner. Below we’ll include a few local Portland lost dog resources.
  11. Make a post on Craigslist, but be wary and ask for pictures from the owner to confirm that the dog is theirs. Unfortunately there are less than honest and potentially even dangerous people on Craigslist who try to sell lost pets or use them for other purposes.
  12. Make posts on social media and community sites. If you found the dog in a Portland area dog park or hiking area, you might want to check the Hiking with Dogs in Portland Facebook Group where owners who lose dogs will often make posts. Nextdoor, Rooster,  and a public Facebook post might also be helpful in getting the word out, but again be wary of people trying to scam you.
  13. And of course, post FOUND posters around the neighborhood where you found the lost pet: on post boxes, light poles, and community message boards.
  14. Finally, if you can’t keep the dog while waiting to find its owner, find a local non-kill shelter or rescue organization. However, beware that many shelters have a fairly short period of time where if they can’t locate an owner they will claim ownership of the dog and adopt it out to a new family. This has caused several heartbreaking situations when there were extenuating circumstances such as the owner was out of town when their pet was lost and then adopted to a new family. Check with shelters and rescues about their policies if you have concerns about this.

Here are some additional local PDX resources for lost pets:

  • Craigslist Portland has both a Lost and Found section where people often post lost or found pets and a Pets section where those listings are also common.
  • Willamette Week has a Lost and Found Pet section as well.
  • Washington County Animal Services: Note that pets without identification will only be held for 3 business days before being put up for adoption. For pets with identification, they will only be held for up to 7 business days before being put up for adoption.
  • Multnomah County Animal Services: Note that pets without identification here will also only be held for 3 business days before being put up for adoption and pets with identification will only be held for up to 5 business days before being put up for adoption.
  • Clackamas County Animal Services: Note that pets without identification here will only be held for 3 business days before being put up for adoption, although they do not say how long pets with identification will be held, it is still not likely to be any longer than Multnomah or Washington counties.
  • All the Animal Services pages have additional resource suggestions, especially for counties outside of these three.
  • You can check our Community Partners page to see more local vets and rescue organizations that might be able to help out too.

And of course, please let this serve as an important reminder to always keep your pets tagged and microchipped with up to date information. If the worst happens, these can be the most helpful tools in reuniting with your pet!