You hear the shriek from your toddler as she realizes her favorite living pillow is missing. She runs into the kitchen to tell you “I lost my doggie” and your heart sinks. Now what do you do? There are a few things you should do right away because time is of the essence.

If you had your dog micro-chipped before you brought him home, or if he was chipped in the shelter as a matter of practice, you need to notify the microchip company right away so its network can start searching for your dog. They often send out e-mails to subscribers which can be shared on social media services like Twitter and Facebook to increase the reach.

You should also get out flyers with “lost my doggie” on them that tell your neighbors that your family has lost the family friend. On the flyer should be a good description of your dog, along with a recent picture and when you noticed the dog missing. Give your contact information and keep your cell phone nearby to answer if anyone calls with information about your dog. Having as much detail as possible can be critical in triggering memories in the right people who saw your beloved pet. Just remember to keep the font on your flyers big enough to be read easily, and keep the picture of your dog front and center.

Try to give details of where your dog was when he went missing. This is crucial – if he left from home, he may still be nearby, just out exploring and having a grand adventure. If he ran away while you were on vacation, your dog may be working his way back home to you, but it’s still important to notify everyone along the path to keep an eye out. When you are at home, try to keep familiar objects outside for your dog to smell and be attracted to, and when someone is out searching, if possible, leave someone home to welcome your dog if he comes back during that time.

You should also leave your “lost my doggie” flyers at vet offices and animal shelters in the area so anyone who turns in a found pet to those businesses can help bring your fuzzy buddy back to you. Both vet offices and shelters have the ability to scan microchips, so it helps to put on the flyer that your dog is chipped. Visit these locations often and keep them updated on your search progress.

There is also a more innovative way to try to find your dog – the internet. Sites like www.petamberalert.com give you tools to print off effective flyers and to alert your neighbors by phone that you have “lost my doggie”. (see top of the page) PetAmberAlert uses the center point from where your pet went missing and sends out “Amber Alerts”,  North, South, East and West from the location calling your neighbors and giving them all the information about your dog they need to help you in your search. Think of it as an AMBER alert for your pet.

People who find pets can also go to PetAmberAlert and post that they have found your dog, so everyone can get together and reunite pets and people. Your network of people who care and will be actively searching just increased by leaps and bounds.

Lastly, be ready to spend time every day searching until your pet comes home. You might have to hear your toddler cry that she has “lost my doggie”, but you can involve her in the search, too. Don’t give up! It’s easy to do, but keep the faith – the more you do, the more likely it is your dog will come home.

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