Dogs at the Crossroads

Our friend Carter who was lost in the area over a year ago.  Pictured with owner Ann Marie and local David Scott.

By Lupa Jernigan, Desert Dogs

Losing your dog and being unable to locate them again is a frightening concern for pet owners and one we see play out all too often. Sometimes we hear about happy reunions but all too often the tale ends in tragedy.

Not long ago in our town a dog was lost after falling out of the back of a pick-up truck. The owner searched to no avail and when the dog showed up at a stranger’s home days later, injured and afraid, the good Samaritan was unable to locate the owner in time. Due to the severity of his injuries, the dog was euthanized.

It is an outcome everyone fears and would like to avoid.  Without casting blame on the grieving owner, I’d like to talk about some things that could prevent similar tragedy in the future.

Dogs and trucks just go together and we all see happy dogs riding in the bed of trucks, faces turned toward the wind. It’s a charming image, but it isn’t safe. Even the most well trained dog may lose his balance and fall, or become alarmed or interested enough to leap from the back of a moving truck. We used to see children bouncing around in the beds of pick-up trucks too but we know better than that now. Our canine friends deserve the same kind of rethinking of old habits.

Whether you are a more laid back sort of pet owner or take every known precaution, dogs are masters of escape and some seem determined to roam free despite their owners’ best efforts. It’s important to know what to do if your dog is lost. The first step is to make sure your dog has a collar with visible tags showing your contact information. Tags are inexpensive and like almost everything else in our world, can be ordered online if you find it difficult to get to a tag machine.

Collars and tags, while helpful, can fail if your dog slips out of the collar. A microchip is a more foolproof way of identifying your pet. Most vets offer this service and it is a quick and relatively painless procedure. Once the chip is inserted, a reader can detect the information you provide to the service. If your dog is lost anywhere in the world, a quick scan can reconnect you and your roaming canine.

I f your dog is lost and has neither chip, nor tag, all hope is not lost. Social networking is a useful tool in helping locate lost dogs or owners of found dogs. Facebook has become the go to network for finding just about anything you need and it’s a great starting place for online lost pet searches. Post in community groups and post on your own wall. Remember to change the settings to “public” and be sure and use words and phrases that will help identify your pet. “Lost Chihuahua” will bring up more specific information than “lost dog”. Fidofinder.com is an online database for lost and found pets. A quick internet search will bring up others. Posting and searching in multiple online venues will increase the chances that someone may find your dog and contact you.

Don’t forget to call local pet related businesses as well. As an area groomer, I often get calls when someone finds or loses a pet. It’s a good idea to check with the city as soon as possible to see if they’ve picked your dog up as a stray. Finally, call around to vets in the region. If your dog was injured, a kind person may have taken them to a veterinary clinic for treatment.

Finally, remember what we all used to do before the internet. Make some posters and put them up in the area your dog was last seen, and anywhere you think he may have roamed. Sometimes the best solutions are the most basic ones.

It’s a subject we would all rather not have to think about, but a little planning ahead can prevent tragedy! Get those tags on your pet today and avoid future sadness.