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Helping Families Find Their Missing Dogs

Lost Dog Quick Action Plan

Losing your dog can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. At Granite State Dog Recovery, we developed a lost dog quick action plan to help you reunite with your lost dog as quickly as possible.


Begin the Search Immediately

Do not wait for a dog to come home! The sooner you start, the greater the chance that your dog will be returned uninjured. Also, never assume your dog was stolen!

Call for Help

Contact animal control offices, police department, veterinarians, and animal shelters within a 20-mile radius. Give them current information (color of collar, tags, current pictures, breed, etc.).

If your pet has a microchip, contact the microchip company to make sure your pet’s registration is up-to-date with current phone numbers and contact information. 

Search Your Home

Start in the house and look in every closet, cabinet, bureau drawer, and under beds. You should also search behind appliances, in the hollow under reclining chairs, under the couches, and the bottom of drapes or blankets. Consider looking behind clothes washer and dryer, in any hidden recesses, basement crawl spaces, and under decks.

If your dog bolted out of your electric fence, please turn off the electric fence so your dog will be able to get back into his or her own yard.

Check your bushes, garage, under the vehicles, and other small den-like areas on your property to see if your dog is frightened and hiding. 

Check With the Neighbors

Have your neighbors check their yard, under porches, garages, open basements, sheds, under boat docks, wells, barns, broken down cars, and chicken coops. Remember to ask permission before entering their property.

Bring a Leash

Don't go out anywhere without a leash on your person. You would be amazed how at many people forget this one simple item and lose the pet again after capturing it! Also don't forget the stinky treats, such as hot dogs, etc.

Consider Where Your Pet Was Last Seen

Place a blanket/crate where your dog was last seen and put a bowl of smelly food (canned Alpo, Pedigree, Tripe) or human food near the blanket. If you have a hunting trail camera, set it up in this location.

Please put out an article of your clothing (socks, dirty t-shirts) at the location where your dog was last seen. There is a good chance that your dog may return.

Set Up a Perimeter

Looking at Google maps, draw a circle in a 3-mile radius around the last sighting, and send out flyers heavily in this radius. Never assume that your dog will not cross a highway, pond, railroad tracks, or power lines.

Get Police Assistance

Notify the local police department and give them a few flyers so that they can help you look and contact you if they find or see the dog. Notify police dispatch that you will be in an area looking for your dog in the event they receive sightings also.

Distribute Pictures, Posters, 

and Flyers

Create a simple flyer with large type, and print 250 copies to start (color can be expensive, so at the very least use color paper). Your flyers should be kept simple and readable. Please put in plastic sheet protectors with an opening on the bottom and be sure to staple in all four corners, facing the direction of travel.

People take lost pets to local veterinarians, police stations, shelters, animal hospitals, kennels, groomers, even pet stores. Make sure all local places where your pet might turn up have your missing dog poster.

Ask businesses to put your flyers up in their windows. Be sure to canvas all the local drive-thru restaurants and bank tellers. Ask for the manager and request they leave some flyers for in break room or drive-thru window.

Send shelters within a 20-mile radius a poster of your dog along with details for returning him/her if someone should bring your dog to their facility.

Give copies of your flyers to people that walk their dogs in the area. Remember that placing posters in mailboxes is illegal. 

Call Local Highway Departments In Nearby Towns

If a pet is hit by a car the highway maintenance department is called to pick up the dog. Contact them directly to see if they received any calls. Although this would be very difficult news to receive it would give you closure. 

Put Ads Online and Offline

Post ads on relevant Internet sites, as well as in the daily paper and any weekly community papers that your local towns might publish. Don't forget to read the local papers to see if there's a found dog ad for your dog.

Consider using Find Toto’s emergency phone alerts. They will send telephone alerts to 1000's of your neighbors within minutes and immediately deliver a description of your lost dog.

Please be aware however, of similar pay-per-click services that charge more, take your money, and never make the calls.

What are the demographics in your neighborhood? It might be helpful to print some flyers in Spanish, French, or another language.

Most dogs are recovered within 2-3 miles of their home. Put flyers up in your neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods with a current, clear picture of your dog. We suggest placing them on every other telephone pole for easy visibility, always facing the direction of travel.

Intersection signs work great in the city and rural areas. You can create this type of Poster using neon poster board and black magic markers. List only the basic details with big bold letters. Intersection signs are highly visible, easier to read than flyers and are known to generate sightings.

Enlist Your Friends and Family

It takes a village to find a lost pet. Go out and create the village by talking to your neighbors. Recruit family, friends and other volunteers to help you in printing posters and posting them as quickly as possible.

While friends, family members, and well-meaning people will want to "physically search" for the dog, it is actually the wrong thing to do. This will create additional fear in the dog as he or she may feel threatened or hunted. This will send the lost dog further and further away. It is best to get the posters up in the area as quickly as possible so you can start getting calls with sightings. Remember to record all sighting of the dog with time, date, and exact location and direction of travel.

Instruct everyone that is helping you not to call or chase your dog. This will prolong your search. If your dog is seen, you may sit, or lay down (no eye contact) and gently toss out treats to lure your pet in. Soft talk to them using a cute nickname you have for them at home.

Lost dogs use their natural instincts in order to survive. They have only three things on their brains: food/water, shelter, and keeping themselves safe, even to the point of staying away from their owners. Every time people are out searching in the area where your dog was seen, they think of this as a threat, which then increases their fear towards people and causing them to move out of the area.

Dogs lost in stressful situations such as car accidents, changing fosters homes, veterinary clinic, groomers, and rescue transport: these dogs usually do not travel far unless they are pushed out of the area, chased, or when search groups go out searching. 75% of these dogs are eventually recovered on the property they bolted from.

Remember, if you spot your dog, do not whistle, chase, or call him. This could cause him to panic and run into traffic, causing great injury. If you live in the area of snowmobile trails, please do not go out on your snowmobile or on 4x4 vehicles as this will terrify him and push him out of the area. 


Visit Animal Organizations

Go to animal shelters, animal control offices, and vet clinics, and hand them a flier. Remember to include Microchip identification numbers if applicable, and ask that they scan and verify ownership of any pet matching the description or photo you provided.

Tag Your Car Using Neon Markers

Turn your car into a billboard! Use bright florescent window markers to advertise your lost dog as you drive through your community. Be sure to include: the breed or description of your dog (if it is a lesser known breed), your street, intersection, or neighborhood name, the city or town, and your phone number.

Keep it to 3-4 lines of information. The letters should be three to four inches tall – easily visible. Use different colors in your message to make it easier to read. You can also include a color photograph of your dog inserted inside a plastic sheet protector and secured to your window with tape.

Man Your Phones

Your telephone should be manned 24 hours a day. If your dog has an ID tag with your phone number on it, you may very well get a call.

If you have a lost dog reported with us we use our toll free answering service number on lost dog posters unless otherwise requested. Once messages or sightings are received we forward all information immediately to the owners. This ensures you will never miss a call.

What NOT To Do

1. Don't panic.

2. Don't wait.

3. Don't believe everything people tell you.

4. Don't call the name of a lost dog.

5. Don't chase a lost dog.

6. Don't give up!

Remember do not put flyers inside mailboxes; it is a federal offence.

Never give up on your dog! He or she needs your help to get home! If you need further assistance, get in touch with us in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Print the Lost Dog Quick Action Plan 

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