If your dog goes missing, it is important to take action immediately as frightened and confused dogs can travel long distances in a short amount time if they are running from being spooked or excited to be free.

Take a moment to write down all the information you will need in order to file a lost dog report with Lost Dogs of Illinois, the local Police and Animal Controls. You will also need this information to create Lost Dog flyer. Decide on whose phone number will the contact on the report and then on the flyer. This person must be able to answer their phone 24/7 as sightings can come in at any time of the day and night. You don’t want to miss someone saying they seen your dog walking down the street and finding out about it 5 hours later.

Your dog’s name, breed, gender, age, color, markings, microchip, collar color, did they have a lead attached, harness, ID tags. Are they dog friendly? Are they afraid of strangers? Do they come when called by their name? How long has the dog lived with you? Where was the last place the dog was seen before going missing?

1. Contact your dogs Microchip company and alert them the dog is currently lost.

2. Complete the Lost Dog form for your state, in our case it’s Lost Dogs of Illinois. You can find the form here. Your dogs information will also be posted on Lost Dogs of Illinois Facebook page.

3. Contact local police and animal shelters, giving them a description of your dog, including microchip number, the last place the dog was seen being going missing. Illinois Animal Shelters & Holding Centers listing.

You can also let them know you will be calling in daily to check if anyone has called in a “Found Dog”. People sometimes find the dog and hold onto to it, while the owner is located. If your dog is microchipped the process of your dog being returned if found is much faster.

5. You will need to get flyer’s up on all major intersections, throughout the neighborhood and local businesses. Your flyer is going to help people identify that your dog is lost and where to call if they should find him/her or where they seen him/her. You can create a flyer here for free.

TIP: To prevent people from chasing your dog yelling their name at them, frightening them further. Leave your dogs name off the flyer. If someone calls you with a sighting, say they think it’s your dog in their backyard, you can ask them to say the name out loud to see if the dog responds.

5A. Print your flyers on an 8 x 10 sheet of white paper, slide it into a page protector (clear sheets) and attached it to bright fluorescent poster board. Use 11 x 14 size flyers in intersections and 8 x 10 flyers in neighborhoods. You can distribute just the flyer without poster board to retail businesses, churches, schools, fire stations, park districts, ect.

Before you begin flyering, check with your local municipality on their ordinances regarding hanging flyers. Not all allow for it and never place a flyer over public road signs. The city/town can & will remove flyer’s, best to not do all the work for not.

5B. If necessary, after sighting begin to come in, you can use a technique of “Drive Way Drops”. Shrink your poster down to fit 4 to a 8 x 11 page these are called “n-up” Cut and place a mini flyer and a rock inside a sandwich baggie. You can now distribute those by driving through the neighborhood and tossing onto residents driveways for their retrieval.

5C. Example of flyer. First photo is the 8″ x 11″ on paper. The higher grade of paper stock ,the longer the flyer will survive in the elements. Second photo shows the flyer attached to fluorescent poster board. (Local Dollar stores generally have the best price on poster board) Purchase a stapler and lots of clear packing tape. You will want to tape the poster board at the top & bottom going all the way around the pole to keep it from blowing or falling off.

You will want to check your flyers to ensure they are remaining intact and when you remove them, please remove all of it. Do not leave pieces of poster board or tape flapping in the wind. Community members shouldn’t have to clean up after you in their neighborhoods.

Position of Flyers. Tape or staple to wood poles at the height a person in a normal size vehicle would have direct eye contact.
Photo 1: Basic easy to read flyer with only the important information.
Photo 2: Flyer attached to bright fluorescent poster board.

Now that you have your flyer made online, you can download it and begin sharing with social media sites, Facebook (personal and group pages/neighborhood pages are very helpful), Twitter, Instagram, and the NextDoor app. Spread the word that the dog is missing. All too often people see a stray dog and think the dog belongs in the yard it’s seen in, you need to make your dog famous by alerting as many people as possible they are missing.

When posting to those social media sights, make clear that people should not be out searching, chasing your dog. You are asking for them to call when they see the dog so that you can get to the area and retrieve your dog. Dogs that are chased, make poor decisions, such as running straight into traffic. Even the best behaved dog can bite a stranger if the person is cornering the dog. If you have ever heard of the term, “Fight or Flight”, your dog might be in that thinking mode. They can’t run away from the stranger, so they will bite to get past that person.

The less you tell people on social media, the better. You want to enlist their help with sightings, flyering, but leave the dog catching to you for your dogs safety. The police and animal control officers will be alerted to keep an eye out for your dog as well should they be able to safely lure your dog into being captured.

The flip side of telling people to not try and trap your dog is if the dog is in someone’s yard, you want them to close the gate. If they wander into an open garage, close the garage. If they can safely do this without confronting your dog, safely securing your dog is the end goal.

6. You are going to need to gather up some items that have both your scent and the dogs scent to be placed outside the home for your dog to track their way back home. Whether that means their bed, blanket, favorite toy, a shirt you have worn that has your scent, high value food & water, you decide, then place out front of the home where the dog can return.

The best place to enlist volunteers from is your local rescues. Many have experienced people in tracking lost dogs or know of a person. If your dog is being seen, but you’re not able to capture them, many of them have traps, camera’s, and experience in luring your dog back to safety.

Don’t not be surprised if your own dog does not recognize you. Example, A dog is running down the sidewalk, the owner runs closer and calls the dog, the dog is 15 feet from the owner, stops, looks and runs off.

The dog didn’t run from the owner because they don’t like the owner, but they are in flight mode and may not realize the person was their owner. The way you want to approach a lost dog is to get low to the ground, make yourself as least threatening as possible. Toss high value treats away from you and to the side of the dog, until the dog is comfortable and approaching you for the treats. Go slow, stay calm and speak in hushed tones.

Templates to create these flyer’s will be added in the upcoming months. You can find templates to customize yourself on the PosterMyWall website, click here.