Dear fellow dog parents – on the morning of May 5th, my (ex)dog sitter lost Captain in the morning while we were out of town for a night. My fiancé and I were driving back home from a wedding 2 hours away from home when we found out. Through miracle, luck, and compassionate dog owner strangers, he was found. Praise the Lord!
I hope you NEVER need to use this guide, but I put this together & documented all the steps as it helped us triangulate and find Captain:
(1) Post to the Nextdoor app an urgent alert with a picture of your dog and their last seen cross-streets with details of his typical routes (e.g., fire station, pet food, address of work or locations typically frequented). Have your dog’s picture and description handy at all times saved on your phone or email—this takes 1 minute to do and that 1 minute might save your dog’s life. Check if your neighborhood is active on any other local app/FaceBook group, etc. where you can post to a wide local audience.
(2) Think of all the places your dog would look for you – where he or she may think they could find you. Why has he run away? Most likely to find you. Have this list again saved on your phone and email.
(3) Call and text all your neighbors who can lend feet on the street, get in their cars, and search and yell for your dog. Create a phone book group called “emergency dog group” with all your dog loving neighbors in there. They can also bring their dog (whom your dog knows) with them, as the canine friends might be able to lure your dog. The more fast feet and paws on the street, the better.
(4) Call local animal control and ask for a vehicle/field officer to look for your dog with details of how they look and where they could be. For SF that number is (415) 554-9400. Save the phone number to your phone.
(5) Call local police. (SFPD was not very nice) Call them to get notes in their system, as you might get a compassionate dog owner as a dispatcher. Local SF police is (415) 553-0123. Save the phone number to your phone.
(6) Call local pet stores, cafes, and restaurants who will keep an eye out.
(7) Communicate, divide, and conquer – start a big text thread with everyone part of the search saying exactly where they are and heading next. Divide and conquer, disperse to various locations of where the dog could be and continue narrowing down based on last seen clues. Text message a recording of your voice calling for your dog with any recall cues (cookies, treats, etc.) so searchers can play the recording aloud.
***Be wary of those who dog walk/sit for primarily money, and do a trial run before leaving overnight. Pay half upfront and say you’ll pay the other half when their job is done. Thoroughly vet all your dog sitter and walkers, there are a lot of sketchy people out there. Leave detailed instructions of your dog’s habits and behaviors for the sitter to follow. Ask for updates every few hours to keep them accountable, and consider micro-chipping your dog.
Julia Hanna Yoo