Six tips to prevent lost dogs, and find them quickly

"My grandkids left the back gate open. I didn't even realize they were gone until someone called saying they'd both been hit on the ring road."

"I was watching my friend's dog and don't know what happened. He backed out of his leash and just ran. I didn't think he'd do that."

"OMG. The contractors were in doing the hardwood floor and just left the door open."

This sample lost poster contains all of the right elements: good photos, where/when he was last seen, a description and phone, text and e-mail contact information. Plus it's brightly coloured to stand out when shared. 

No one thinks that their pet will run away, but they do - all the time. Check out any shelter and you'll see a very busy lost and found space.

You can do plenty of things to prevent your pet from going stray, and if they do get out, get them home safely while saving hundreds of dollars on fines and fees.

1. Wear Identification

Be sure your pets are wearing identification: a tattoo, microchip, collar, name tag and city license. If your pet isn't already microchipped, ask your veterinarian about it. A microchip is the best way to get home, and they're cheap and easy to install and don't get lost. A name tag should contain your current cellular phone numbers. A city license is like run-away insurance - if your licensed pet is lost and found, you'll save hundreds of dollars in fines and fees. If you move or change phone numbers, remember to contact your microchip provider to update your pet's file.

2. Secure doors and fences

Keep your doors and fence gates secure. If your dog is a bolter, consider using a baby gate or some other obstacle to keep him safely in the house. For garden gates, a padlock is ideal. You may be very diligent about blocking your dog, but pets are notorious at getting away when company and contractors are visiting or working. Padlocks are also great at keeping thieves out.

3. Be wary of friends

If helpful friends or family are watching your pet at their home, inspect their home to make sure it's secure enough for your pet. They mean well and know how to handle their pets, but not necessarily yours. Your friend's shepherd may not get through that small hole in their fence, but your nervous bichon might easily be able to squeeze out. They may also not be as careful as you would be to secure doors and open windows.

4. Secure leashes

Dogs constantly back out of collars that are on too loosely. Collars need to be tight enough that the dog can't pull out of them. A well-fitting halter is much more reliably safe.

Keep your dog on-leash. In cities, it's selfish not to. When dogs are off-leash, they chase rabbits, cause traffic accidents, and destroy service dogs by making them too distracted to work. If you want more dog parks, don't just use a space you think is ok, lobby your city council for more off-leash spaces ... but that's a whole other issue!

5. Prepare files

Keep a pet file on your smart phone. Include a current photo and microchip numbers. Consider creating a lost pet poster now that could be updated and sent out immediately if your pet becomes lost. Be sure to include a good photo, where/when he was last seen, a description and phone, text and e-mail contact information. Too often people post lost pets on Facebook with no contact information.

Consider pre-registering on PetLynx. Lost and found animals are registered then connected through this virtual system.

6. Act quickly!

Speed is of the utmost importance. If your pet does not have identification, you've got three days to find them before someone else can legally claim them as their own. Three days. If they're microchipped or wearing any identification, you've got 10 days. More time, but not a lot. If you're away over a long weekend, your pet could be someone else's property before you return home!

If you're lucky, someone will find your pet and call your cel phone number from their collar. The second best case is that someone turns your pet into the shelter and he's safely looked after until you retrieve him. However, often, when lost, they suffer injury by vehicles, wildlife or extreme weather. 

  • Contact everyone- humane societies, animal shelters, animal control facilities, and rescue groups within many kilometers from you as soon as possible. They are all independent organizations, and animals can be picked up and delivered out of your market. Go to your closest shelter in person. People describe animals differently and in a busy shelter environment your pet could be overlooked. It is always best to look for yourself. Visit frequently. If you're in Regina, file an online lost dog report.
  • If you haven't already pre-registered on PetLynx, register now. There is a free 7-day trial, and you'll need that system now. Search the system to see if someone has found your pet.
  • Advertise your lost pet everywhere. Put a poster with your dog's photo, home location and your contact information on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Print posters and circulate them in your neighbournood. Post your lost pet on Regina’s Lost and Found Dogs Facebook page. Be sure that the privacy settings on your posts are public so your friends can easily share your lost post. 

Found

Once you find your pet, take down your posters and update your social media posts. Many people will be rooting for you and be very happy to learn that he's made it back home safely.