It's something we all dread - one of our dogs running off & losing sight of them. It's our worst nightmare when we're at home but when we're away? I can't think of anything worse. Would you know what to do if, heaven forbid, the worst happened & you lost one of your dogs when on holiday?
These days lots of accommodation owners, including us, offer temporary holiday dog tags for your dogs to use. Ours have the property address on & our contact numbers. So, if your dog runs off, someone finds him or her, reads the tag & calls us, we can then call you. Phew! But, what if nobody finds your dog? What should you do? Hopefully these tips below, which I'll be including in our house books will help. We have fist hand experience of one of our dogs going missing & were lucky enough to have a fabulous friend who completely took over the practicalities whilst we set about searching for our girl. We can be your practical friends & help you with these steps or you can pass this information onto one of your party to deal with:
Firstly, make sure you know how to contact us. Put our phone numbers in your phone. They're our mobile numbers & with us at all times.
You will more than likely be scared & panicking but if you can try to keep calm you need to tell us the following: description of dog (breed, colour, size, sex, name, tagged, microchipped (if chipped try to find out with which company)), where he/she went missing & when, if they were wearing a collar/harness/lead & colour of those. Where we can get access to a photo if possible i.e social media accounts. The contact details you're happy to be shared.
The next thing is to contact DogLost,
a fantastic organisation which has helped reunite thousands of dogs with their owners. They’ll need all the above information, preferably with a photo if you’ve been able to get one. Lost dogs can be registered online here: http://www.doglost.co.uk/add-dog.php?status=Lost&join=1
You will need to register if you haven’t already, it doesn’t take long.
Get some posts on social media with as much information as you can, anywhere you can think of posting. Make sure your post is set to public so it can be shared.
Next contact the local dog warden, vets & any rescue centres with all the details. I will ensure these details are in the house book.
By now the DogLost page should be live, there will be printable posters there which need to be printed*, put in a plastic wallet to protect them & attached to trees, lamp posts, gates, fences, noticeboards & anywhere else you can think of in the area where the dog went missing. Share the link on social media as much as possible - your business page, your own profile, any relevant groups you belong to. Dog people are fantastic & will share a lost dog like crazy so get them out there. *Please contact us for assistance with printing posters
Whilst searching, this advice from DogLost is very useful: “When you go out looking, take something very smelly with you like a warm cooked chicken, sardines etc to see if he/she will catch the scent. Please check hedges if rural where he/she went missing in case their collar has become caught in the twigs. Check roads hedges & ditches (sorry, but just in case) Check for any hazards that are local to your area: cliffs, mines etc.”
Your co-ordinator needs to log sightings & other information & pass it on to you. It’s really important to have someone calm available to collate information & know what to do with it.
Speed is of the essence in terms of sightings, more advice from DogLost: If there is a sighting in the area of your dog, it may help if you 'scent' the area to keep him/her there. You can do this by either putting some of your own urine in a bottle, diluting with water & sprinkling in area ( maybe making a path back home, or to a safe place if your home is not near to area lost), or emptying the contents of your vacuum cleaner into a container, adding water and doing the same.
Things I’ve learnt from personal experience when my own dog went missing, and through helping others:
It doesn’t matter how confident the dog is normally, they will be terrified & go into survival mode. They won’t necessarily come running if they see their owner, they may run away. Stress to everyone involved in the search that they mustn’t chase or try to approach the dog, instead call the number provided with the location & time of the sighting.
Dogs tend to follow a ‘triangle’ which you can establish by pinpointing each sighting on a map & looking for the furthest points. They do this quite quickly. Finding the ‘triangle’ will enable you to know where to locate posters most effectively & where to focus a search.
I sincerely hope this never happens to you. I wouldn't wish the 48 hours of sheer terror we experienced when Emerald went missing on anyone. But, if it does, I hope this guide will help you. And remember, we are just on the end of the phone.