As much as we don’t want anyone to lose his or her dog, sometimes it happens. Despite our best intentions and our years of dog-owning experience, sometimes our dogs get loose, especially around holidays like the 4th of July (thank you, fireworks) and Halloween (frequent opening and closing of doors, scary masks, constant doorbell ringing, etc.).
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a lost dog in the backyard. I had let my senior Dobe-mix, Tula, out on her long leash outside and gone back indoors. Shortly thereafter, I heard a dog bark (not Tula) and went out to investigate.
An unfamiliar dog was playing with Tula. I had never seen him before and knew he didn’t belong to any of my close neighbors. Because he was unaccompanied by a human, I quickly realized that this happy dog was out on an adventure—and his owner was probably worried.
So I did the only thing I could think of: I called fellow pack member Bri to get some advice. Luckily, she had just done a stint with Lost Dogs MN and instructed me with these quick easy tips for what to do if you find a lost dog.
- If possible, catch the dog. If the dog doesn’t want to approach you on its own, grab some high-value human food and sit on the ground. Surround yourself with the food and settle in to wait. Once they’re with you (be patient: it may take a while), leash ‘em up or keep them contained.
- If they’ve got contact information on an ID tag, get in touch with the owner. They’ll a) be thrilled to hear from you or b) be surprised to learn their dog escaped the yard. Either way, you’re a hero.
- If there’s no contact info available, take a good picture of the pooch and head on over to Lost Dogs MN to file a Found Dog Report.
- Call the local police to tell them you’ve found a dog. They’ll file a report and if the owner calls the police too, which they should, the police will be able to connect dog and owner.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, bring the pooch to your local vet. Call ahead to confirm, but most veterinarians will do a free microchip scan for lost dogs. If the pet does have a chip, you’ll be able to contact the owner directly. Voilà!
- And even if you can’t catch the pooch, fill out a Sightings Report at Lost Dogs MN. Every little bit helps!
So how did things turn out for my new furry friend? Well, I quickly attached him to my side (I’m a good ear-rubber) and checked his collar to find his owner’s contact information. Unfortunately, the only tag this pup had on him was a proof of vaccination. Sidenote: If your dog’s ID tag doesn’t have some sort of contact info on it (for you or even your vet), you should change that ASAP.
Lucky for us, though, the dog’s owner came walking through our neighborhood calling the dog’s name just a few minutes later. Happy endings all around.
[Sidewalk Dog Editor’s Note: If you have lost your dog, call the police and then turn to the pros at Lost Dogs MN. Once you submit your Lost Dog form, they’ll send provide you with tips of other things you can do to find your dog.]