Our dogs and their funny little ways! We love them like part of the family and they have their little routines….so what if your treasured pet goes missing – who’s making sure they get their bed time snack or their belly rub? The thought of them disappearing is heartbreaking for most owners.
I lived in rural Stondon Massey between 1999 and 2002, where we had a fairly open garden. One midnight, our two dogs woke me up for an ablution and despite always watching them, after a few minutes Gypsy our beautiful Scottish Terrier cross was nowhere to be seen. After an hour we were frantic, after two hours we thought we would never see her again but then, as we had almost given up hope, about 3am we drove down a side street to see her come out of a neighbour’s garden with old Baldrick, a medium sized terrier cross. She had clearly had a lovely time and was in a really happy mood after a dalliance under the stars with this distinguished gentleman dog!
So, thankfully Gypsy was missing for a short time, but some dogs go missing never to be seen again or are missing for much longer. So, where on earth do you turn? Well, before 2003 when DogLost (@DogLostUK) started it was very patchy indeed and, even now, it’s far from perfect so, the dog owning community have come together to circumnavigate the system!
That’s where DogLost and its network of volunteers comes in.
Jayne Haynes set DogLost up after her own dog was stolen and had just such an eye-opening experience. Jayne found that she was only allowed to deal with the dog warden from one area, even though she lived 50 yards from the boundary of the next county. I have had this experience myself, as recently as a month ago when I found a black Labrador in Thurrock but, despite the area I found her being at the apex of Thurrock, Brentwood and Havering I struggled to get the Thurrock dog warden to take down my details as I lived in Brentwood! It’s a good job I insisted as just three hours later, the dog’s (Aveley based) owner called me after a six hour search, having got the details from said reluctant dog warden! It’s probably a good job that I didn’t mention complicate it further my telling her that the dog was actually being cared for overnight by my friend in Upminster! It was good to be involved in such a happy reunion!
So what does DogLost do and how does it help owners? Well, I would be surprised if any regular dog walker hasn’t seen, reunited or looked for a missing dog on their walks and, very simply DogLost gets the message out in the community as quickly as possible whilst giving the searching family lots of advice on what to do.
The website www.doglost.co.uk is providing an increasingly vital service. It receives over 100,000 visitors a month and reunites over 100 lost or stolen dogs every week – I have been privileged to be part of some of quite a few reunites! The site is free to use and run by volunteers
DogLost also make maximum use of every new communication method that comes along – Twitter and Facebook are fantastic ways of letting people in your area know that a dog is missing and lost dogs get tweeted, re-tweeted, shared and shared again to keep people looking.
They will also help with press releases and give out numbers of your local press and radio stations.
But one of the best things is the fact that DogLost will create a missing dog poster that you can print or email to friends. DogLost will also email the poster to all DogLost helpers within a 30 mile radius of where your dog went missing from. All without charge!
There are, of course, some simple ways to help prevent your dog going missing – ensuring your dog has a tag with your name and a contact number and micro-chipping your pets are two of the simplest things to do. Remember to update details if they change.
Dogs that are chipped have been known to turn up hundreds of miles away from home years later and still be reunited with their owners. For instance, Archie the poodle was missing for 549 days after escaping from his Corringham home and turning up in Oxford two years later! His chip was the only thing that brought him home to Essex to his delighted family. Otherwise he would be living in Oxford, re-homed, with his people assuming he was gone forever.
So, my appeal to everyone reading this guest blog is to sign up to be a DogLost helper today – all you need to do is provide your details on www.doglost.co.uk and they will notify you when a dog is missing near you so you can keep an eye out, walk your dogs in that area, tell your friends, share it on Facebook and Titter if you use them and help get another baby home!
So, what became of my Gypsy & Baldrick the terrier you might wonder? Well, after her moonlit adventure we had to take our girl off to the vet for the morning after injection, just in case! She lived to a good age (15) and had a lovely life with lots of love. But, poor Baldrick, I think it finished the poor old boy off, he passed away a few months later but I hope Gypsy gave him some happy memories in the autumn of his life!
I hope you like the ‘Guest Post’ I’ve organised for you this month! Many thanks to Karen who has written a brilliant post!
Losing your dog can be devastating, as Karen says, make sure your dog wears a collar and a tag – even at home. Dogs have gone missing from their own gardens or wandered out when a door has been left open. Under current law, dogs are required to wear an identity tag when they are in public places, with the owner’s name and address clearly inscribed on it. I would strongly recommend as many phone numbers, of as many people, as possible are also attached to the collars. Although you may feel this is a security risk, the aim is to make your pet as easy to return as possible if found. If a dog warden seizes the dog (in the legal, not physical sense), or it goes to the pound, there can be large fees to pay. Having the dog’s name on the tag does not make a difference to your dog being easy to steal – a dog will respond to a new or similar name very quickly!
If your dog (or cat) strays and is taken to a pound or rescue, although they should make reasonable attempts to trace and contact the owners they cannot spend a lot of time on each animal, and some authorities have not even checked for a microchip! If there has been no contact, after seven days they can put your pet up for adoption and rehome it. If this happens owners have no legal right to the return of their pet, and it is not uncommon for new owners to refuse to part with pets they have legally adopted, even after as little as a week.
If your pet is micro-chipped (most pets can be micro-chipped, not just cats and dogs), give the chip company as many phone numbers as you can. You may add my number to tags or chips if you wish. I will always help reunite lost pets, even if circumstances change and I am no longer caring for your pet. Keep the microchip updated with your details! If you move or change your phone number (or both!) it will be useless.
Tell everyone you meet you have lost your dog, and ask them to tell everyone as well. Poster the area your dog went missing as thickly as possible – make your dog too hot to handle. Some finders either do not know they should report a found pet, or misguidedly feel the dog is better off with them! Contact as many dog wardens as you can, and all the vets in the local area. Dog Lost has more great information, so do sign up as a volunteer, and if you see other volunteers posting details on the internet – share them! It could be your dog.