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Seven things to do if your dog goes missing

Also, how do strays at the shelter get their names?
Find out how Ladybird got her name. Friends of Falmouth Dogs photo.
Find out how Ladybird got her name. Friends of Falmouth Dogs photo.

By Pamela Alden Kokmeyer

It was New Year’s Eve. The family had adopted the little female mixed breed that morning and later that evening, the family—with their new dog— went to the video store in Falmouth. When they opened the car door, the dog bolted. It was nighttime, downtown, and very cold. They searched, they called animal control, they called us, and we all searched. Despite the days and weeks of searching, the dog never turned up. Until exactly one month later: the dog was found at the MSPCA in Centerville and family and dog were reunited. We’ll never know how far she ran before being found by someone and taken to the MSPCA, but chances are good that she had crossed town lines, perhaps many towns’ lines. What we do know is that a simple ID tag on her collar would have brought a happy ending much sooner.

It can happen in an instant. One moment your dog is there; the next, gone. And we know it doesn’t take long for a dog to travel many miles. But there are several things pet owners can do to locate their lost pet sooner rather than later.

Obviously, a current ID tag—one with a cell phone number or a home phone. We have firsthand knowledge of how quickly the owner can be contacted. Remember, rabies tags and dog licenses may only be useful during normal business hours. Your phone number is much more helpful. But sometimes dogs lose their tags. That’s when a microchip comes into play. (All dogs adopted from FFD are now micro-chipped before adoption.) Animal control departments, shelters and veterinarians have scanners that will read the microchip number.

But assuming the worst, that the pet is gone, no tags, no chip, the sooner you act and the wider you cast your net, the better your odds of being reunited.

  1. Immediately contact your animal control department, and those in surrounding towns, with as much detail as possible. In Falmouth, the number is 508-457-2552. Also contact all the shelters in the area—even those in other towns. Contact veterinarians to see if an injured animal was brought in. If your pet is micro-chipped, contact the microchip registry and make sure your information is up to date. And continue to call the authorities and the shelters. As we know, animals can be found much later.
  2. Search your neighborhood, by car or on foot, several times daily. Knock on doors to alert neighbors so that they can be on the lookout.
  3. If you don’t already have a good clear photo of your pet, take one immediately. It will be available if you need to print flyers. Post the flyers in surrounding neighborhoods, veterinary clinics, grocery stores, pet supply stores, with the animal control departments, shelters, wherever you can. (The MSPCA offers tips on making good flyers. Visit the Massachusetts Animal Coalition website.)
  4. Contact your local newspapers. Most will run free “lost” ads. Be as detailed as possible with a description of your pet.
  5. Post a message along with a photo of your dog on Facebook. Include where the dog was last seen and a phone number where you can be reached.
  6. Use the Internet. The Humane Society of the US recommends these sites: Center for Lost Pets, Fido Finder and craigslist.
  7. Another good tip is to check places that your dog is familiar with—parks, woods, beaches. The dog may just be visiting familiar sites not even realizing it is lost.
  8. And remember, don’t give up looking.

* * *

Although the actual rankings may change a bit, the German shepherd consistently ranks as one of the top 10 breeds for intelligence. Of course, you won’t hear this from Caper, because he’s a modest kind of guy. He just lets his actions speak for themselves. This 10-year-old dog is simply beautiful. He possesses a noble visage, a lithe gait and a lovely disposition. His perfect home will have someone around a good deal of the time as he gets lonely easily. Someone with shepherd experience would also be a plus.

The strays at the shelter are named by volunteers. Some are named because of physical characteristics; some are named to honor someone. Ladybird was named for neither of these reasons but oddly enough, fits both: one, she is feminine, as a lady should be, and small and lively as a bird is; and two, remember Ladybird Johnson? This adult beagle is small and nestles well in a lap or a chair. Or a bed or a car seat. She has no preference as long as she’s nestled. She won’t take up much room in a home and will provide daily opportunities to enjoy a healthy, mind-stimulating, stress-reducing, calorie-burning walk.

Every dog deserves to be loved and protected. Ollie certainly does. But that’s not how his life has played out so far. This little dog was found on the street, abandoned, sick and scared. Fortunately he was rescued from the worst of his plight, but now he needs to find someone who will promise to love him and take care of him. Ollie is an 8-year-old shih tzu. He has a treatable medical condition, and with medicine, time and good food, he will begin to look like he should. Ollie is in a foster home at the moment but we can easily make arrangements for you to meet him. A quiet, warm home would be his ideal placement.

Remember our hours: Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to noon; Sunday from 3 to 5 PM; Monday and Thursday from 3 to 5 PM; (and for volunteers to check on the dogs, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 4 to 5 PM).

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