Losing a pet is a frightening experience that no pet owner wants to go through. But when it does happen, what can you do to bring your pet home? In Minnesota, we're lucky to have The Retrievers to help.
The Retrievers is an independent, volunteer-based organization located in St. Paul, Minnesota that provides lost dog support services (tips, tools, consultations, and resources) for pet owners and rescues. Here's the process they recommend to pet owners:
How can The Retrievers help find your missing dog? Here’s the process they recommend to pet owners:
1. Immediate Response: The minutes and hours immediately following a dog’s disappearance are critical.
- Recruit friends, family, and neighbors to help search the area for your dog.
- Call local animal shelters, animal control agencies, impound facilities, and 24/7 animal hospitals to let them know your dog is missing and to notify you if there are any sightings.
- Find more tips for immediate action, including how to use scent articles to help find your dog, here.
2. Contact The Retrievers: They offer free consultations, tips, support, and encouragement on an as-needed basis for every pet owner that loses a dog, including dog owners outside of Minnesota.
3. Raise Awareness: The more people that know your dog is missing, the more eyes you have looking for him/her.
- Spread the word about your missing pet. Create flyers and online posts that include: photos of your dog, a description of your dog (gender, age, breed, coat color, eye color, collar color, and if your dog is microchipped), your contact information, and any important notes about your dog’s behavior (ex: if your dog is timid or aggressive).
- Place big, bright signs and flyers at intersections around your area. Use Google Maps to help organize your flyer placement.
- Post information online such as on your personal Facebook page and community pages (The Retrievers, Lost Dogs Minnesota, Lost Dogs Wisconsin, etc...). You can also set up a Facebook group dedicated to searching for your lost dog. For example, Buddy’s family set up this Retrieving Buddy Facebook page to get more people looking for him and to post updates. Please note: Buddy is still missing! Please keep an eye out for him if you are in the Twin Cities area!
- Continuously check in with local shelters, humane societies, animal hospitals, impounds, animal control, impound facilities, lost dog Facebook group, Craigslist, Find Toto, and PetAmberAlert.
4. Humane Capture of Skittish Dogs: Volunteers with The Retrievers are trained in humanely catching lost dogs.
- If there is a general area or sighting of the dog, call The Retrievers. They’ll set up a “trap” to help contain the loose dog and reunite him/her with the family. Read Toby’s story to learn how The Retrievers set up a trap using his brother's scent.
- If you spot a loose dog in your neighborhood, try to track down the owner before calling The Retrievers. They will not capture a dog unless they have a commitment from you that the dog will have a place to stay once it leaves the trap.
5. Lost Dog Education: A moment’s carelessness or the wrong fit for a collar can result in a loose dog.
- Make sure your dog has a proper fitting collar, ID tags, and is microchipped. Keep information up-to-date. Learn why it's important to have both ID tags and a microchip here.
- The Retrievers offer prevention education to decrease the amount of lost dogs each year. To learn more, look at these resources.
What is the outcome of The Retrievers’ efforts?
The Retrievers have helped many families reunite with their pets. Here is data from The Retrievers’ 2015 Annual Report:
In 2015, The Retrievers had 201 total cases. 118 dogs were returned to their owners, rescues, or caregivers.
In 2015, for dogs that returned safely, 88 of The Retrievers' cases were hand-caught by people not associated with The Retrievers. 14 cases were trapped by The Retrievers. 17 dogs were found in a shelter. Most dogs were missing for either 12-48 hours or 3-14 days.
If your lost your dog, don't give up hope! Contact The Retrievers for assistance. Contact them or visit their website for more information on their services and resources. You can also look into ways to volunteer with The Retrievers or donate to help this all-volunteer organization.
Thank you to The Retrievers for providing us with information for this blog.
The Animal Humane Society
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