Read over these simple steps so if you lose your pooch, you can hopefully find them again in a heartbeat.
It’s every dog owner’s nightmare to find their pup has gone missing. It can be an unimaginably stressful time, especially if you lost your pooch away from home like out on a trail where they’re not necessarily familiar with the area.
It can also be even more overwhelming when your dog disappears and you’re not sure where to start.
However there are some simple steps you can take to make sure if the worst comes, you’re prepared and ready to act fast to get them back home with you as quickly as possible.
1. Search the immediate area
If you’ve gone out on a walk and you suddenly realise your pooch has disappeared, don’t panic. Collect your thoughts calmly - they might have just found an enticing smell that they’re getting stuck into a few paces back behind a tree or bush.
If not, retrace your steps and gather a search party of friends or fellow hikers and dog walkers. One tip by the BCSPCA is to shake a bag of their favourite treats - if you have them on hand - and call their name as you search.
2. Tailor your approach to your dog’s personality
The Ontario Humane Society recommends putting your pet’s personality first when thinking about your next steps. If your dog has been frightened or is anxious, they may have bolted and ran for several kilometres before hiding in a concealed area such as a bush.
In this case, your pooch may not react well to strangers and may only come out once the trust of a favourite human has been earned - or if they are motivated by hunger.
Think carefully about how your pup might react to you or others calling their name and adjust your approach.
3. Post on social media
If you haven’t had any success just yet, don’t worry. In an age where social media is ingrained in our society and people are glued to their phones, the next step is to post in local community pages, as well as on national missing pet pages, about your pup.
Make sure to include a recent photo, vital details about where they went missing, what they look like, their breed, your contact information and their name - if you are happy for strangers to call for them. The Humane Society of the United States recommends leaving out one key characteristic so if someone does find your pet, you can verify their call is legitimate.
4. Create a chat group with your core search party
If other strangers nearby are willing to help in your immediate search or friends and family have arrived to help you, ensure you take everyone’s details and add them to a messaging group like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger so you can update each other on sightings or if your pup is found. It’s also a great way to also plan out where different members are planning to search.
5. Grab a phone charger and battery pack
You’ll need your phone more than ever at this time, so it’s crucial that it’s charged for all the social media swiping you’ll be doing as well as answering calls and texts which can drain your battery. If you’ve chosen to stay where you are, ask if a friend or family member can bring you a portable charger and cable so you can keep up the search.
6. Notify the authorities and shelters
Time is ticking by and there’s no sign of your dog anywhere. Call your local authorities to lodge a missing pet report so if your pup is picked up by an officer or handed in to a station, they know who to call.
Also call whichever city or municipality your pet is registered with. If a bylaw officer or city worker picks up your pet, by searching their tag number they can reunite you with your pup and even drive them straight home to you. Report your missing pet to the City of Vancouver here.
You should also call local shelters within a few kilometres of your search area to see if your pup has been found. If not, let them know who you’re looking for and they can keep an eye out if anyone comes in with them.
7. Leave a piece of your clothing or something of your dog’s nearby
Sometimes we forget how strong a dog’s scent is, but if you’re still struggling to find your pup and it’s getting dark and late, leave a piece of your recently worn clothing near to where they disappeared and they’re likely to reappear.
Even leaving your dog’s bed or crate is a good idea - it provides a safe, trusted spot for your pet to shelter and be close to you, even if you’re not around.
It can even be a good idea to watch and see if they come out once you’ve popped down the item - we’ve heard of reunions where this was the key to success, so don’t miss this step!
8. Print posters and share them locally
The search has been going on for several hours or into the next day. It’s time to go old school and get some posters printed of your pup. Make sure you have a recent photo of them, and like your social media post, include vital information that could lead to them being found. PETA recommends adding a reward to your poster to encourage people to join your search.
You can also search the BCSPCA’s Pet Search site where you can create a free lost poster and ad.
9. Bring enticing treats or foods
Sometimes the smell of a tasty sausage might be all you need to recover your pet from their hiding place - plus if they’ve been missing for an extended period of time, they’ll likely be very hungry and will be more motivated by hunger rather than fear to come out of hiding.
10. Visit where they went missing at night
A night-time visit to where your pup disappeared could also help find them. When other hikers or walkers have gone home for the day and traffic has died down it will be much quieter for you to hear if your pup lets out a whimper or whine you might not have heard during the day.
Preventative measures you can take to avoid your pup going missing:
Develop a solid recall
Ensure your pet has a tag with your contact information on it
Get your pet registered
Ensure your dog is microchipped and the information on the chip is up to date
Consider buying a GPS tracker for your dog’s collar
Websites or pages to look for lost pets in BC:
PetFrenzy also has other sites they recommend to check for different regions of BC or provinces around Canada.