What to Do If You Find a Lost Dog

The idea of a missing pet is terrifying for all those loving pet parents out there. Seeing a lost pet wandering the streets is also one of the saddest sights for animal lovers everywhere.

If you’re like me, you probably wonder what you can do if you find a lost dog. You want to return that beloved pet to his pet parents immediately, but how do you do that?

Let’s take a look at the best ways to reunite a stray animal with his loving pet parents.

What Should You Do If You Find a Lost Dog?

what to do if you find a lost dog

You can take several actions to return a lost dog to his loving pet parents as quickly as possible. Let’s take a look at several things to do.

Call Your Local Animal Control Agencies

The first thing many pet parents will do when they lose their best friend is to call the local animal control agencies like the humane society and other local animal shelters. They can report their beloved pet as missing, which means the agency will create a pet report, give the agency their contact information, and let them know of any identifying information their pet has. This might include an ID tag or a microchip.

If you have a found dog, take him to the local shelter or humane society so they can scan him for a microchip. If he’s got one, they may be able to contact the pet parent quickly since the microchip company will have contact information on file. Additionally, his pet parent might have already called them with a description, so even if he doesn’t have a microchip, they might already have his description.

Most animal services agencies have a lost and found pets department that handles these problems, so you can just ask to speak with them. This is a good place to start, given that it’s the first place most pet parents will call when they’ve lost their dog.

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Post a Picture of the Found Animal on Social Media

Our modern technology now gives us more ways than ever to reach out with information about lost and found dogs. Your community might have a Facebook page or a Facebook group where you can post that information.

This lost dog’s parents may also have posted a pet report on site with their telephone number or other contact information. If so, you can give them a call to come to pick up their best friend.

Post a Notice on Craigslist & NextDoor

Craigslist is another popular site where people will often post about lost pets. In fact, they have a Lost & Found Pets category for every location. If the lost puppy has wandered far from home, this may be a better option than your community’s social media pages.

Check your local NextDoor neighborhood listserv as well.

Go Old School and Local

You can also post notices in your local grocery stores, your local newspaper, throughout your local community, and in area vet offices about the found dog. You might even check at the veterinary clinic to see if they recognize the found dog. They would have the owner’s contact information too.

Another good place to post notices is pet supply stores, so anyone who goes there for dog food might see the notice. Petco Love Lost is an excellent example of a pet lost and found a site where you can post information about lost and found pets.

Be sure to leave your phone number on those notices so the pet parents can quickly contact you. Another place to contact is the local police department as some people might call them about their lost buddy.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Pet from Getting Lost?

Remember the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It’s best to take steps to ensure that even if your best friend gets lost, he can easily be returned to you when found.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure he finds his way home to you.

Use a Dog Collar

Don’t think of a dog collar as something that restrains your best buddy; think of it as something that identifies him. It should have your contact information, including your phone number. That way, someone who finds your beloved pet can easily and quickly get him back to you.

Get a Microchip

pet microchip cost infographic

I know there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there about this one, but a microchip can make it so much easier for someone who finds your beloved pet to return them to you.

Microchips are tiny transponders the size of a grain of rice that your vet or local animal shelter can implant just beneath your dog’s skin. They are a great backup option to a dog collar as a means of identification.

Moreover, in those places where stray dogs are euthanized if they aren’t adopted or recovered after a certain amount of time, a microchip just might save your best friend’s life. While this should not be your primary way of identifying your pet, it’s a great backup.

Keep Your Pet Photos Up-to-Date

Keep your pet photos up-to-date so you’ll have a recent photo of your buddy. That will make it much easier to post both lost and found notices.

Remember another old adage: a photo is worth a thousand words. A picture will make it much easier to identify your best friend than a description of what he looks like.

Keep Your Fur Baby in a Fenced Yard

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Make sure you have a fenced yard and stay on the lookout for any holes where your pet might escape. You’ll want to maintain the fence regularly, and if you’ve got an escape artist, you might need to take extra precautions to ensure he can’t get out of the yard.

You might be considering a shock collar to prevent your dog from leaving the yard, but you’ll want to check out this post about those collars before you go that route. It’s better to have a good, old-fashioned fence rather than something like that.

Spay and Neuter Your Pets

Not only does spaying and neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it also reduces your pet’s desire to wander. This will make your dog more likely to stick around the house, and if he does get out of your yard, he won’t wander nearly as far as he might if he’s not fixed.

Watch Out for Scams!

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It’s also important that you watch out for scams involving lost pets. One common scam is that a person will call you to tell you they have your lost dog, but they want a reward sent to them first. Don’t do it. If you think they might have your dog, let them know you’ll exchange the reward money for your dog.

Another common scam is that a person will call you and tell you they’re a long-haul truck driver who found your dog and now has the dog in another city or state. They may ask for money to send your pet back to you or board him until they can send him back with another driver.

If you think this is possible, ask them to send you a photo of your pet standing with them by their truck. If they seem to have your dog, ask them to take him to the local humane society or animal shelter, where you can arrange for him to be held until someone you trust can pick him up. Let the truck driver know you won’t send any reward money until you have confirmed your pet is in safe hands.

Another version of the truck driver scam is the airline scam. Someone calls you to say they found your dog in another state but need money and an airline ticket to have him shipped back to you. It’s almost always a scam.

Most people who care about returning a lost dog to someone are animal lovers who are happy to meet you to exchange the dog for any reward, and most true animal lovers won’t even need the reward.

If it seems fishy to you in any way, don’t give the person claiming to have your dog any money until you see your best friend.

What to Do If You Find a Lost Dog: Final Thoughts

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A loving pet parent’s worst nightmare is a lost pet. If you’ve found a lost dog or cat, you can be sure your efforts to return him to his home will be greatly appreciated. in fact, I can assure you that they will think of you as a hero! Taking these steps will help you find his loving family and get him safely back home.