We are grateful to Sharon Ellis for sharing her comprehensive advice on what to do if your dog goes missing.
When our friends told us their dog had been missing for about 45 minutes, not only were we worried, but we felt useless as we couldn’t join in the search. However, it turns out that even if you’re hundreds of miles away, as long as you have a phone and access to the internet, you can still help. Listed below are some of these ways:
- The first thing to do is contact the dog warden in case the dog has been found and handed in before the microchip company updates their systems – details will be found through the local authority website. Also, contact neighbouring local authorities in case the dog has moved across local council borders
- Set up an account on Dog Lost (doglost.co.uk) and register the dog – try and get the following information from the owner:
- Description of the dog, including any identifying marks, age, size, neutered, name, colour, collar, sex, etc.
- Where the dog was lost – the more precise the location description the better.
- Microchip number (if available).
- A clear photograph (if the owner is on Facebook, you can probably get this from their page).
For the contact number, use both the owner’s details as they will be out searching and your own number as you are in a place where you can keep your phone fully charged.
Once registration is complete, Dogs Lost will populate a poster that can be put up in the area the dog was lost (we were going to get them printed and couriered to our friends). If you don’t have access to a laminator, put them in upside-down poly-pockets so they won’t be ruined in wet weather. Posters can also be used as flyers for doorstepping local properties and for putting up in local establishments.
Keep updating the Dogs Lost entry with any sightings or news.
- Get the message out to as many people as possible on Facebook – there are groups that have been set up specifically to help with dogs that are missing – these include:
- Dachshund Watch UK
- Local missing pet groups (e.g. Edinburgh and Lothian Lost Dogs, Dana’s Angels Fife) – remember to check previous posts as well as writing your own as the dog may have already been found by somebody and details posted.
- Find Jeff
- Harvey’s Army
- Drone SAR for lost dogs UK – this group consists of drone pilots who may be able to assist with an aerial search (if the dog is in an area where they are allowed to fly). Some drones are also equipped with thermal cameras.
- Drone SAR ground search teams for lost dogs UK – who will help with trying to organise ground searches
- Pets Lost and Found Nationwide UK (Dogs)
- National Dog Finders Alliance
- Also, post on Dachshund groups – we used the following (although there are many more pages):
- Our local dachshund group (Dachshunds in Scotland)
- The Red Foundation
- Miniature Dachshunds UK
- Dachshunds UK
- Dachshunds Needing Homes
- Simply Sausage Dogs
- Dachshunds Anonymous (UK)
Once the dog is on a few pages, people will soon share it with other groups. However, make a list of where you post as once the dog has been found (hopefully), you should edit all posts to say REUNITED so that people don’t still go out searching.
- Message any Facebook groups that are specifically for local dog walkers – this group of people are out walking most days and cover a huge area.
- If there is a local community group, give them a description of the dog and details of where it was lost.
- Post details of the missing dog on local selling sites – they have a wide audience in the local area and it is likely that people may come out and help search. People will also question any posts about similar dogs for sale to check whether it is the missing dog.
- Check to see if there is a local ‘spotted’ Facebook group (i.e. a local group set up to let people what is going on in the area) and if there is, post details about the dog.
- Contact the following to check if the dog has been handed to them – leave your contact details in case the dog is subsequently handed in:
- Microchip company
- Local police
- Local vets (when you register on Dogs Lost, you receive an email with advice on what to do to try and find your dog – there is a ‘click here’ button in this email that gives you details of local vets)
- Rescue centres
- Park rangers (if applicable)
- Remember that not everyone is on Facebook – contact places where people congregate in the local community, e.g. village halls, local churches, pubs, cafes, etc, to give them details about the dog. If the dog is missing more than a few hours, give them posters to put up. Similarly, give details and posters to any local business that people may visit, e.g. the local sorting office.
- If the dog has been sighted, contact The Dog Trapping Team Search and Rescue Network to see if they have anyone in your area that can help with setting a trap. (If they don’t have anyone, they may still be able to point you in the direction of someone else in your area, e.g. my local lost pet Facebook group has a dog trap).
- Send details to local radio stations – by phone and by message.
- Try to find tracker dogs in your area – e.g. K9 Search Dogs UK, K9Tracker, K9 Tracking, Lost Dog Tracker.
- If the dog has been lost in areas where there are known rabbit warrens, contact local drain inspection companies who may be able to help search any underground tunnels.
- There is an organisation called Animal Search UK who can help with advice, searches, thermal imaging, specialist publicity, etc. However, there is a charge for their service, although this may be covered by insurance. (There is a similar group called The Pet Detectives for dogs that are believed to be stolen).
- Set up a dedicated Facebook page for the dog so that all information and updates, including sightings, can be detailed in one place.
- Set up a thunderclap (an online message that reaches thousands of people) – go to thunderclap.it/start for instructions on how to do this.
Losing one of my boys is one of my worst fears. However, on the night we were looking for Hermann, I learned that there are things I can do things to be prepared in case one of them does go missing. So now I’ve:
- Registered with Dogs Lost.
- Created a folder on my phone in which to store photos of Ollie and Luca. This means that I have instant access to pictures that can be used on a poster. The photos are clear and are of one dog only – you don’t want people being confused about which dog is lost. Their microchip numbers are also in this folder.
- Bought two new toys, one of which has only been played with by Luca and one by Ollie. They are now tied up in a plastic bag with each dog’s name on it and stored at the back of a cupboard. That way if I ever need to get a tracker dog, I have something that has just one dog’s scent on it.
- Registered on my local lost pets Facebook page and on a few more national dachshund groups.
- Compiled a list of the phone numbers of local vets, the dog warden, the police and the dog shelter.