Have You Seen My Dog? Top 10 Tips for finding lost pets

Nyla - found safe and sound

Yesterday, a 10:00 a.m. Text Message from friend stated:

My Dog Nyla had disappeared. I could use some help.

My reply:

Whatever you need.


I know what it is like to have a missing pet. When my cat Tucker slipped out two years ago around the winter holidays, I was distraught. I feared he was stuck in the garage of a vacationing family, hit by a car, starving in an alley, wet, cold and crying for me somewhere in the streets. I did everything to find him, creating a 'CSI Oakland' headquarters at my house. Though I did not find Tucker, I did feel at peace with my efforts and felt able to advise my friend on his search. The trick is to turn your guilt, fear and sadness into positive energy and to take immediate action!

1. Reach out to Friends and Family: Right away, reach out and ask for help. You would be surprised who steps up and offers their time, so give them the chance to do so.

2. Create an e-mail list of your team and keep them updated.

3. Flyers, postcards and business cards: It is PR time. Arm yourself with the flyers, tape, staplers and tacks and hit up the neighborhood. Use your most current photo of your dog and create bright-colored flyers, as well as smaller postcards or business cards. Post your flyers right away and everywhere within 1 mile of where the pet went missing. Post in coffee shops, store windows, video stores, parks, pools, churches and local hangouts. State clearly, "MISSING DOG". Include what neighborhood the dog is missing from and when he/she was last seen, as well as your phone number and a description of the dog. If you are offering a reward leave out one detail of the description (eye color or odd patch on belly) in order to weed through responses.

4. Network: Set out in teams and talk to people. Give out the cards to your neighbors, dog walkers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, local police, neighborhood youth, the postman, garbage woman and everyone you meet. Give them away at the farmer's market, shopping center and BART station, wherever you can encounter the most local people. Almost everyone can relate to a lost pet and most will be sympathetic to your mission.

5. Contact Pet Places: visit your local Animal Control, Humane Society, rescue places, veterinary offices, pet stores and pet supply places. Check their found dogs and give them flyers to post. With Animal Control, you must go in immediately and visit often. You can post in their Lost Dog binder and check the Found Dog one. Staff will show you current found dogs and, sadly, the police deceased animal cards. Bay Area Shelters are at www.animalservices.org/uploaded_files/shelterlist.pdf or www.labrescue.org/Pages/bayareashelters.htm.

6. Craigslist: As always, a fantastic resource. Use Craigslist to list your missing pet, but also use it to check for found dogs. Try the newspaper, as well.

7. Call the Police: Most officers are quite willing to take a card and keep an eye out.

8. Look: With a friend, look for your dog in his/her favorite places, like a friends' yard or the local dog park. Call to them, rattle their leash, squeak their favorite toy or use an Acme dog whistle as you walk.

9. Stay Positive

10. Do Not Give Up! Pets have been known to find their way back home after being lost for several months.

Now for the good news: thanks to flyers (#2 above), someone called with a lead late last night and Nyla was found. Hey, it works!