CSI: Missing canines

What would you do if your dog ran off? Would you post flyers? Go to the shelter on a daily basis? Do a 76 day stakeout in your car armed with traps, binoculars, and motion detection cameras?

I have to tell you, as much as I love my dog, I simply wouldn’t possess the mental or physical stamina to spend several months living in my car to chase my dog down. God bless this woman who did, because obviously it paid off. That is one fortunate dog, to have owners that dedicated.

I will never forget the client at work that this happened to. Her dog backed out of his collar in the hospital parking lot and ran off across a busy street and into the ether while the owner stood horrified in the lot with empty leash in hand. We spent at least two hours scouring the neighborhood for this dog. The owners drove to the city every single day for two months to look for him, and wouldn’t you know it, after 60 days of flyers and bribes and traps, they caught the little stinker, no worse for wear, out in the hills. It was truly a miracle he was in perfect shape.

I’m so impressed by the extent to which some owners will go for their pets, but at the same time it makes me feel just the tiniest bit inadequate. If Brody took off on me, I know I would be all over flyers and going to the shelter, but a 24/7 stakeout is just beyond my logistical capacity at this point in my life. Would you take a leave of absence to search for a missing pet?

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  • Clio

    One of our fosters ( a shut down, timid chiweenie) ran from her adopters an hour after they took her home. They chose not to follow our advice about letting her get used to them and acclimate (ignore, ignore, ignore) and let the child walk her, she took off at her first opportunity. We spent 4 days driving the hour from our house to theirs and walking miles shouting and looking for her. We used our dogs to scent mark everywhere and followed every train they seemed interested in (which meant a lot of rabbits but some positive leads). Finally we were set to give up, and as we walked back to the car on day 4 we heard a scurrying behind us and she was running full speed to us :D. She was so happy, our dogs were so happy, tears were shed. We loaded her into the car, called in at the rescue and agreed that we would adopt her. A year later she has completely opened up and has taken agility classes and done great in Rally.
    4 days was our breaking point both physically and mentally, I dont know how some one could do it for 2 months but she got her pup back and at the end of the day it makes it all worth while.

  • Orli

    No, but I did fly back across the country to get her when she was found!

    My 8-month-old Siamese Maya escaped from our house under the weirdest circumstances on the day we left Pennsylvania. My dad had left the attic door open the night before, and didn’t realize that the attic of our condo connected to the condo next door, which had a hole in the wall that led down to their balcony, which led down to the grounds…etc.

    We were driving to Los Angeles. My boyfriend, the other 2 cats and I delayed our start time by over 6 hours (my dad, brother, and trailer full of our stuff left at 8am after 2 hours of searching for her) and I had friends and family in the area make up flyers and continue searching.

    About 3 weeks later she wandered into the across-the-quad neighbor’s house looking for food, still wearing her collar with my phone number on it. I took three days off work and coordinated family and friends in Philly to pick her up, get her checked at my old vet’s office for fleas and a health certificate to fly, and did a whirlwind fly-in, pick-up at the airport, turn-around and fly back out with an unscheduled 24-hour stopover due to snow and fog in Minneapolis.

    It was all worth it. I loved that stupid little cat. Sadly, she performed another escape maneuver a little less than a year later in LA and was not found.

  • Lisa W

    Wow, kudos to her. My dogs are my children, and I know I would spend days, but I don’t think I have the emotional or monetary wherewithal to handle 76 days. Then again, who’s to say what I would do if I were in that unfortunate circumstance. Hopefully I’ll never have to find out. I’ve been lucky enough so far that on the few occasions one has taken off, they have been found within an hour. (Yes, that’s the sound of me knocking loudly on wood….)

  • Gayle

    Just this week, I had a business associate in another city change a flight reservation to come to see us because she had a pet emergency at home. It wrecked her trip but didn’t affect the business we had to do. Nice to hear of people willing to put their pets first!

  • Tonya

    I have thought about that quite a bit since adopting Clyde. He is, due to his environment before coming to live with us, one to bolt if given the opportunity of an open door or gate. Luckily, the few times he’s escaped our house/yard, he hasn’t gone far. Just a quick sprint within a two-block radius of our house, and we’ve been able to catch him by offering to take him for a ride in the car. I’ve noticed he’s less inclined to take off after spending 4 years with us. It was much worse in the first year or so. I worry what would happen if he would somehow escape from the boarding facility, which is out in the country and miles from our house. Or if it happened in another unfamiliar place. What would I do? Posters, check. Shelters, check. Social media, check. I would drive around looking for him, definitely, but I don’t know how long I could devote my days to doing that. Like Lisa, I’ll just hope that I never have to find out!

  • Leigh

    I don’t know that I could expend all the energy that woman did, but I did almost flunk a class because my cat went missing! I work at a vet, and we had a feral that was going to become mine once I finished school and moved out. He was calm enough to free roam in the back of the hospital, but he would get spooked quite a lot. Usually he was way to scared of the outdoors to bolt that way. He is my heart cat, and at the end of my -last- semester of college he went missing! I went to the shelter every day to see if he had been picked up, I posted flyers, and I would drive around the neighborhood in the middle of the night and early morning (when it was quiet) to see if I could even get a glimpse of him. I was consumed with finding him! So much so that I flaked on a bunch of work for one of my classes, and ending up getting a D+! Thankfully, my GPA was great… so I could still graduate, and finally, 7 days later, I found my cat on the roof of the clinic, cowering under the air conditioning unit! And now he’ been mine for 8 years.

  • Leigh

    Also- tips we tell our clients…

    1) Have your animal microchipped! There are times a good Samaritan will bring in a pet, and we will contact the owners before they even know their animal is missing!!
    2) Have a collar and tag on your animal. Many people don’t like their outdoor cats to have collars, but you can get break-away ones that will unsnap if your cat get caught in a fence, etc… so they cannot strangle. Collar those cats!
    3) Go to, or contact the animal shelter daily.
    4) Check the LOST/FOUND section of your local paper. You can post LOST ads pretty cheap, and they often let people who found animals post for free.
    5) Use craigslist! I have heard so many stories about people who post in the LOST/FOUND section and the pets are reunited with the owners very quickly!
    6) Don’t just post flyers in the immediate neighborhood. Take them to all the veterinary clinics, boarding places, and pet stores in the area.


  • Regina

    My goddaughter let one of my lhasa apso out and she wash missing for 3days luckily someone round her and called the missing ad I had put in the newspaper but I looked nostop with flyers bring put up and walkng and drving around till she was found I wouldnt rest till she was home and if anything happened again and one of my 12 dogs got lost Id have someone stay with the others till it was found Id go to the end of the earth too make sure my babies were back home safe and sound

  • Well at least this lady was able to keep her job by working online from her car. Most of us could not take a 3 month leave I don’t expect. But here in Nova Scotia where I live we have a great Lost dog network. http://www.novascotialostdognetwork.com/ we also have a facebook presence as well here https://www.facebook.com/#!/NSLDN
    It is quite amazing. This winter a neighbour was in a car accident and her dog escaped in VERY cold weather but 3 days later the dog was found by a member of the group who lived in the local area and went out seaching. The group recently helped find a Golden Retriever who got spoked by fireworks last Sat. The owners were from Austria and had to leave on Monday as the airline would not change their flights. The dog “Luna” was found yesterday http://tinyurl.com/3ux7fff and the owners are on their way from Austria to pick her up.. The group has about 2000 members province wide and many more people get mobilized in each community when a dog is lost. They have ton of tips for catching the dogs and sightings get posted really quick.. It is amazing what can happen when the “word” gets out there is a dog lost..

    Personally I would not stop until my dog was found, leave of absence or quit my job because I know returning to work with one of them lost would not be an option for me. But I understand most people would not be able to do that.. People have to eat and have shelter over their families heads..

  • wow. I would search like crazy that’s for sure. We live in the city and I would worry so much about her getting hit by a car. My mom’s dog disappeared one day and returned a week later. Sure would like to know where he went.

  • It took me eleven months to get my kitty, Screech, back. A window screen came undone while I was at work and he disappeared. I put an ad in the paper every week, called the shelters regularly, called vets offices, groomers, and kennels. I had post cards printed up with his info and pictures, I mailed them to half my town, vets offices, kennels, groomers. I also brought them in to pet stores and Petsmart and tacked them to boards. I knew every black and white cat in three towns from phone calls. Finally, a lady called and I knew it was him, in the NEXT STATE over! He is still with me, but getting kinda ancient : ))

  • Amy

    You’d be amazed the things you’ll do when your pet is missing. When my Sancho went missing I called animal control to see if any dogs had been picked up in the area and the woman told me an injured black pit had been picked up a block away, although my dog was a black 26 pound mutt – I knew it was him. I was sobbing and begging, and the woman refused to tell me where he had been taken. So… I called 911 and reported a possible robbery. Not my finest moment, and I KNOW, a terrible use of tax dollars and emergency services but I was desperate and this person would not help me. I had already called every veterinary office in Sacramento and no one had him. I knew that was my dog and I knew I had to get to him. The cop was none to thrilled with me, but she found out where my dog was and I made it there in time to be with him and hold him when he passed away. I’m not advocating for fake 911 calls, but I would do it again in a heart beat.

    • macula_densa

      That is a heartbreaking story. And… I completely understand where you were coming from. It probably never would have even occurred to me to do what you did, but I understand why you did it.

  • Roseofskye

    My pet insurance covers the cost of advertising for lost pets up to a certain amount. Something worth checking if you’re in the unfortunate situation. I worried a lot about my cat bolting out our front door when we first got him, but he seems to have no inclination to go near it, unless he’s wearing a harness, which he has grown to associate with walks.

  • lin

    Wow, that is dedication. Reminds me of poor Vivi, the lost whippet at JFK http://thepoodleanddogblog.typepad.com/the_poodle_and_dog_blog/2008/02/whatever-happen.html .
    Have you ever read “The Lost Pet Chronicles” by Kat Albrecht? She is a former k-9 handler turned pet detective (with tracking dogs). Some good stuff on what to do if your pet is lost or missing. There was a recent article in BARK magazine which featured her, and how she is now using ‘magnet’ dogs, very dog-friendly, dog-savvy dogs to lure skittish dogs out of hiding.
    That wouldn’t have worked with our dog, who has a general dislike of other dogs. Luckily, when she got out of the yard one day, she just hung around the front yard and scared the hell out of the mailman. After that, she was left in the house when we were gone.

  • The woman was lucky she was able to continue to work online from her car for so long, most people could not do that.
    In Nova Scotia we have a Lost Dog Network http://www.novascotialostdognetwork.com with more than 2000 members. We are able to get the word out and provide tips on what to do. Once you get the message out about a lost dog people actively look and report sightings very quickly on FB..
    We also have a big presence on facebook where we can easily get the message out.
    This winter a neighbour of of mine had a car accident and her dog was ejected from the car and bolted. It was a VERY cold period. One of the members of the group who lived in the area was out searching and 3 days later and found the dog.
    Last Saturday night a Golden Retriever bolted during fireworks in a big city, the owners were visiting from Austria, they were frced to return home as the airline would not change their flight. The group planned to send Luna home when she was found. She was found yesterday and the owners are coming tomorrow to pick her up.. She was not able to walk when she was found so if people had not been looking actively for this dog she might have died.
    Her is her story. http://tinyurl.com/3ux7fff

  • madra beag

    When I was 8 years old I refused to talk to or engage with my father for two and a half months because he DIDN’T put this much effort into looking for our lost dog *sniff*

  • Julie

    Oh wow – I live in San Diego and had seen those signs and tarps everywhere! There was a huge tarp sign near my work and also at my local dog park (almost 20 miles from my work!). I was just thinking about that dog the other day and wondering if they found it since that sign wasn’t at the park any more. What a great story!

  • TaxiLab

    Guinness took off one evening and I went searching for him and reported him missing on Home Again. Two hours later I ran up to work to make flyers. I went door-to-door on my street and by the end (about 30 houses) I was crying while I was talking to neighboors. Everyone was extremely nice and supportive (there are a lot of dogs on my street). I went out one more time to look and low and behold, he was one street over. I wanted to yell at him, but was so happy he came to me. I’m lucky that I live about 1 mile from work (teach high school) so I would be able to leave often (private school) to check, but emotionally I think I’d be a wreck considering I was a wreck after only two hours! So glad she found her dog!!!

  • I think nobody knows what they would actually do until they find themselves in that situation.

    I think I would do everything I could figure out and found doable.

    On one hand the worry that one of our guys would take off is very small, they just don’t do these things. Could it happen? Under some really special circumstances, possibly. I’m still toying with the idea of getting the little GPS tracker thingy.

    The thing is, though, that our guys want to stick around, they don’t like being away from us, not seeing us and not keeping taps on us. So hopefully we’ll never have to face that predicament.

  • Wow… what a story. When I was a kid, our Chihuahua escaped when we were visiting family. My parents hired Bloodhounds to try to track her in the neighborhood and we put signs up everywhere. A neighbor saw the signs and alerted us that they’d seen her sneaking cat food. We found her – she was only missing for 3 days, but they were the worst days ever! I’m so paranoid about Bella getting away… she’s a little Houdini.

  • Wow, I don’t know if I could live in my car for 70 odd days but I sure would bust my butt to find my little Hammy. About a year ago, he ran off after another dog (while not wearing a collar, no less, though thank goodness he does have a microchip). My boyfriend and I split up and scoured our apartment complex. I was in tears and ready to expand the search to the surrounding neighborhood when I heard someone say, “I think we have your dog” after I was screaming his name. Thank goodness someone from our apartment complex had found him across the street and brought him back. They figured he might live in the apartments but said they planned to take care of him until they found his owner. Thank goodness for good samaritans.

  • Just thinking about my dogs running off raises my blood pressure and brings on a migraine headache. I think I would probably do all of the above but not necessarily out of dedication but rather out of anger.

    I am ashamed to admit that I would probably be enraged because I’d feel betrayed by the runaway dogs. Does that make me selfish?

  • Esther

    As much as I love my dog I couldn’t take a week off work let alone months to look for him. At that point I would homeless and my car would be gone too. He is chipped and i would look for him anytime I wasn’t working
    Luckily I am not worried about him running away from me. He has had the opportunity to run away from me but stays close to me. On the other hand my roommates have strict orders to never let him out off leash for any reason if they value their lives.

  • Fatmi Tab

    Lol I don’t have any dog but my neighbor has. nice tips.
    LED signs