It’s a dog owner’s worst nightmare.
One moment, Spot is lounging in the backyard. The next, he is nowhere to be found after escaping through a gate that was accidentally left open.
According to Lost Pet Research & Recovery and PurringPal, at least 14 percent of dog owners lose their pets in a five-year period.
Dawn Blackmon of Goliad Pet Adoption said the first few hours after realizing your dog is missing are the most crucial in getting that pet back home safely.
Waiting for the dog to come back home is not a good idea, according to Blackmon. Dogs loose in rural areas can become prey to coyotes overnight.
“We have had lots of dogs get caught in hog traps,” Blackmon said. “Some dogs, even as large as German Shepherds have gone to a slippery river bottom to get water and they can’t make it back up.”
Blackmon said the first place to check is the local animal control department or animal shelter.
“As a matter of fact, you should go there personally to see if your dog is there,” Blackmon said.
According to Blackmon, it is a good idea to check daily with animal control departments, especially those that euthanize pets.
“If you don’t, the dog could be euthanized in days,” Blackmon said.
Social media can also be a useful tool.
Two stray dogs were located at the Goliad State Park & Historical Site on July 19. A state park ranger contained the two dogs and sent photos of them to Blackmon, who posted them on the Goliad Pet Adoption Facebook page.
“Someone saw the photo of the dogs on our Facebook page and then tagged the owners and told them to come pick up their dogs,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon suggested pet owners join the “Goliad – Adopt, Lost and Found Animals” Facebook group with over 1,000 members. She said the Nextdoor app has also been helpful in retrieving lost dogs.
Posting fliers throughout the neighborhood and a photo of the dog in your front yard can be effective
“That’s why it’s important to take updated pictures of your dog,” Blackmon said. “A photo of your adult dog taken when he was three months old may not be effective.”
Blackmon said dogs that wander away from their homes can get disoriented quickly. She recommended placing dirty clothes outside in hopes that the lost dog will catch the scents of its owners and find its way home.
Blackmon emphasized the importance of microchipping your dog.
“That is the best way to get your dog back,” Blackmon said. “The key is to always keep your information up to date with the microchip company.”
Dog owners should also contact all local veterinarians.
“Sometimes when someone finds a dog, they will take it to a vet to be scanned for a microchip,” Blackmon said. “If they find an injured dog, they will also take it to a vet clinic.”