What do you do if Skittles or Xena go missing? Pets unexpectedly escape or go missing every day. Some slip through an open door, others break their chain or slip their leash and take off running. Frantic owners search the area calling their pets names, then desperately blast the information on social media.
But what information do you include? Is there too much information or not enough? Who else can you contact to help?
According to Missing Pets in the Northland Facebook group, owners should call 911 and report the missing pet as a non-emergency. Next, call the microchip company to flag your pet as lost and call the local veterinarian offices.
Put out unwashed clothes from a favorite human to help guide the dog back home. Also set out smelly food that will attract them and put up bright signs around town. Keep it simple and write something like, lost dog, the breed, phone number and a photo if you like.
Pass out flyers, check at local shelters and go door to door.
Do the same for a lost cat but also immediately put out their used litter box and check all garages, sheds, window wells and under decks.
Search at night using a high-powered light and look for eye-shine.
There are several missing pet organizations that help reunite lost pets with their owners. Post the information on Missing Pets in the Northland, fill out a form on Lost Dogs of Minnesota and contact the Retrievers.
Do not put your pet’s name on the sign or on social media, cautions Amy Addy, Case Manager and Lead Safety Coordinator for the Retrievers, a volunteer lost dog team based in Minneapolis.
Melissa Bieber did many of the items on the list when her big fur baby disappeared from her rural Hinckley home in August. Her dogs discovered a broken spot in the fenced in yard and made a run for it. The others came back, but not her two-year-old brindle English Mastiff.
“He’s the biggest cuddle bug,” Bieber said. “He would move in slowly and then move onto the couch with me. He’s super sweet and a big goofy sweetheart.”
She worries that someone picked him up or someone found him and decided to keep him. A person commented on her missing dog post and asked if she contacted the Retrievers. She did and they made the distinctive yellow signs set up around Hinckley.
“They’ve been great,” Bieber said. “It’s been pretty heartbreaking.” She said she thinks most people are unaware of the steps they should take once they find a lost pet.
Many dogs go into survival mode and will run away if anyone calls their name or chases them. Instead Addy recommends if you find a lost dog, do not make eye contact but sit or lay down and gently throw treats to bring them closer until they can be caught. She has used rotisserie chicken to successfully catch several elusive dogs that were deep into survival mode.
Be prepared before your pet wanders off. Microchip both dogs and cats and remember to update address or phone number changes with the microchip company. Dogs should have the owner’s name and number on the collar in case tags come off.
“I hope he’s okay wherever he is,” Bieber said softly. “Yeah...I’d like him back.”
Her mastiff is 180 pounds and wears a wide leather collar that is black on one side and red on the other. Bieber is offering a reward for the return of her dog. Anyone with information can call 320-267-8034.