Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of missing pet posters popping up in the Grey Bruce area. While it may seem like the number of missing pets is increasing, in actuality the process for alerting the public is improving.
Much of this is thanks in part to volunteer organizations such as 'Helping Lost Pets Find Their Way Home', managed by Jodie Hawker, Head Dog Trainer at the Georgian Triangle Humane Society, and owner of Happy Paws Canine Solutions in Meaford.
We interviewed Jodie, and asked her to share her most essential tips for locating lost or missing pets. Here’s what she had to say:
1. What are the first steps to take if your dog goes missing?
a) Awareness: Get the word out to your community as soon as possible. Post to Facebook community groups, and lost-and-found pet groups; alert local radio stations; file a missing report with your local animal control; advise your microchip company of lost status if your dog is chipped; file a free listing on helpinglostpets.com, and your listing will generate a flyer you can use right away. It’s critical to advise people to not chase your dog, call it, or whistle; they should instead contact you with exact location and direction of travel.
b) Be sure to leave an access point open for your dog around your property. Most dogs will try to return if not interfered with.
c) Hang worn clothing with your scent around the perimeter of your property, and put your dog’s favourite bed outside as well.
d) Have friends and family help you create large neon lost dog posters, which should be affixed to major intersections ASAP.
2. What do you do if you spot a lost dog?
a) Contact animal control during their business hours. If seen on a highway or very busy road, contact the police immediately.
b) Post to social media, and try to include a photo if possible.
c) Do not call out or chase a lost dog. If it approaches you, try to lure him/her into a fenced backyard or a safe enclosed area.
3. Why should you never try to catch a lost dog on your own?
Even the most social dogs go into survival mode very quickly when lost. This means they are not approachable. They will run in the opposite direction if you call out or try to approach. This can cause the dog to run farther from home, or into traffic.
4. What are the names of the organizations that you work with?
In my opinion, the best organization to give expert advice on lost and missing pets is AID 4 PAWS - Search & Recovery. They are experienced in lost dog behaviour, and treat each case differently based on the particulars of the dog and the situation.
Helping Lost Pets Find Their Way Home is locally based in Meaford. We are a Facebook page that shares lost dog information in Ontario. If anyone is missing a dog locally, we will assist any way possible.
5. Are there volunteer opportunities to help search for missing dogs?
We are always looking for volunteers to help put up posters and get the word out. Sometimes live humane traps need to be set. Volunteers are needed to check on them from a distance.
6. Any other tips or important info?
Large neon posters/signs are so important when a dog goes missing. It's important to make them highly visible. We like to use fluorescent bristol board with clear and minimal writing (Lost Dog at the top, phone number at bottom), along with a clear photo of the dog in the centre.
Paws up to Jodie and others like her who donate their time to help lost pets find their way home. When it comes to lost and missing dogs, time is of the essence. Knowing the right steps, and taking immediate action will profoundly increase the odds of locating a lost dog quickly and safely.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.