Your dog is missing. You've done a Facebook search for "lost dogs" plus "state." You've contacted your local police station and Animal Control Officer (ACO), hung flyers, and posted on social media. And then you get the call you've been waiting for - your dog has been seen! Now what?
The most important thing for a successful recovery is to keep your dog in one place; once your dog leaves a known area, the search is back to square one. When you get a call, do ask the caller for specifics:
- Description of the dog. Unless the dog seems radically different from yours (i.e. white and your dog is brown), don't discount the sighting; people have very different ways of describing dogs
- Exact location of the sighting
- Collar (Color? None?)
- Direction in which the dog was traveling
Not everyone will be able to provide you with all these details, but ask anyway.
Do go to the area of the sighting as soon as possible to put up flyers and scope out areas where your dog may be hiding and routes she might be traveling. Are there food and water sources? Shallow woods abutting homes? Abandoned or little-used buildings? Lots of sheds or porches a dog could hide beneath? If so, pay particular attention to flyering in these areas.
Do tell anyone you see while flyering that your dog has been sighted in the area, and emphasize that if seen, your dog should not be chased.
If you should happen to see your dog, the same rule applies. In addition, don't speak to him, approach him, or look him in the eye. Your dog is in flight mode and doesn't recognize you or the sound of your voice; he'll experience these behaviors as aggression and will likely run. Instead, sit on the ground, look away, and toss treats in his direction; give him the time and space to recognize you and your scent.
To keep your dog in the area, do set up a feeding station right away. If your dog was seen in someone's yard, ask the homeowner if you can place food and water in an unobtrusive area of the yard. If the answer is no, ask other neighbors. If no one will agree, find a secluded spot as close to the sighting as possible and set up the feeding station there.