A few years ago, we lost our beloved dog Rocco for about 7 hours. They were the worst 7 hours of my life. I spent the whole time calling every vet’s office, visiting the humane society, driving around the neighborhoods, and knocking on doors.
The humane society asked me if he was chipped, and feeling like the world’s biggest idiot, I had to tell them no.
After searching every inch of the neighborhood, I came back to cry on my bed—only to hear a tentative scratching noise from inside my closet. I tore the entire contents of my closet out and found him inside a woven basket with a lid.
I have no idea how he was able to slither in there, but I was wildly glad to see him. I took him to get microchipped the next day, so that if he ever got lost for real, someone would know where to take him. I haven’t lost a pet since, but I have helped several people find theirs. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Microchip Your Pets
If your dog is not currently lost, microchip him. Microchip him even if he has a collar and tags. It’s far too easy for some child, eager for a new pet, to accidentally ‘lose’ that collar and ask mom, “Can I keep him?!”
Your dog can’t slip off his microchip when he’s out and about. He can’t have his microchip taken off him. It’s often the first thing people do when they find a pet. It’s definitely the first thing a shelter checks for at intake.
It’s also important to keep that information current. Update microchip information when ever you move or change phone numbers.
Check Your Home Thoroughly
If your pet is lost, your next step should be to make sure he’s not locked in a basket like Rocco was. Check the entire yard, the shed, under the shed, etc. Check under the bed, in cabinets, and other weird places that you wouldn’t ordinarily check. It’s possible your dog is stuck in the sleeve of a sweater and actually needs your help.
Your home is the easiest place to search, and checking the humane society won’t help much if he’s tucked under a blanket and doesn’t know you’re looking for him.
Check The Neighborhood
It’s time to start calling your pet, knocking on doors, and seeing if anyone has seen him. It’s possible your neighbor has your dog, or he’s sitting patiently at the front door wondering when he can come in. Make sure your neighbors know what house you’re in and what your dog looks like so they can return the dog if found.
After you’ve searched your home and neighborhood, it’s time to go online. Facebook is especially great for finding your pets because there are a ton of hyper local lost pet groups. Type in “Lost dog _______” with the blank being your local city, and something is sure to pop up.
Post clear photos of your lost chihuahua, including any distinguishing markings. Check the group to see if anyone has a found dog posting matching your description.
Paw Boost is the next great website, putting up a post there and checking found dogs will give you access to many found dogs. They can let you narrow down to a potential radius, gender and species so you have fewer found dogs to look through.
Craig’s List is another useful option in the US, as are similar listing sites elsewhere. On these websites, be careful not to list too much detail. Scammers often claim to have your dog and demand a reward for ‘finding’ it.
On these websites, withhold a critical detail (what collar the dog was wearing, which toenail not shown in the picture is black, anything like that.) By asking for a detail not listed or shown in a picture, you can confirm someone does indeed have your lost chihuahua.
If you have a local humane society, they often post pictures of dogs, but they typically only post them end of day. It’s worth checking in on, but probably not after attempting other methods first.
Finally, Next Door is a social media that is limited to your immediate neighborhood. Try checking in and reporting your dog as missing so everyone close by can help you.
Make Some Calls
If you didn’t find your pet on these websites immediately, it’s time to start calling. Contact your humane society and give them a verbal description of the dog and call all the local vets in the area. It’s common for people who find missing dogs to drop them off at nearby vets, especially if they get injured.
The more people who know your dog is missing, the better the chances you have at getting your dog back.
Leave A Sign
Your dog probably also wants to come home. They may simply not have any idea on how to get there. Unlike humans though, they can’t ask directions or look for road signs. They need signs they understand in order to find their home.
Leaving out a crate with your worn clothing in it can help your lost chihuahua find their way home. They can follow your scent from the clothing if you are close by, and that can help them find their way back.
You should also be putting up signs for humans too. Make a “Lost Dog” poster, including pictures and your phone number, and leave them up in a wide radius around your home.
Your lost chihuahua wants to come back as much as you want them back. Keep walking the neighborhood and calling. Keep phoning vets, the humane society, and rescues to see if your dog is there. Your pup is out there somewhere, and keeping your pet fresh in human memory will help you get it returned.
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