So you are a foster home for a soldier’s pet and everything is going great. Until one day you let Buddy outside to get some exercise and turn your back for one minute only to discover…. Buddy’s gone! It’s every pet owner’s nightmare and being a Foster Parent you have the added pressure…You’re taking care of someone else’s dog!!
Don’t panic. Take a deep breathe. There are many things that you can do to locate Buddy. Swift action, paired with some resources that you have kept in your back pocket will increase the odds of Buddy coming home before dinner time. The important thing to do is to get information out there.
Send out the Initial Search Team
As soon as you notice that Buddy is missing, talk to other people in the house. When was the last time someone saw him? Check the house – maybe he came in without you knowing. Call his name and bring out his favorite toy as a way to grab his attention.
When your sure that Buddy’s not in the house or in the backyard – start walking around the neighborhood. Start with your neighbors – maybe he jumped the fence and is hanging out on your neighbor’s back porch. Bring a photo of Buddy with you in case your neighbors need a reminder of what Buddy looks like. Get a team of neighbors together and check every nook and cranny – Buddy could be under a bush or in a shed hanging out till he is found.
Work the Phones
Your first calls should be to all the animal control agencies, and shelters groups in your area; one of them could have Buddy already thanks to a complete stranger. Also give your state Foster Home Coordinator or State Director a call and give them a heads up that Buddy is missing.
Get the Word Out
What next? Create a “lost pet” flyer to canvas the neighborhood with. We recommend sticking with one design, as repeated viewings of a consistent message are more likely to stick in people’s minds. You’ll need to include a lot of info on your flyer, so use your limited space wisely:
- A big, bold headline that people can read from a distance: “LOST DOG”
- Under the headline, a photo of Buddy is ideal. Make sure he’s still well-represented after the picture’s been photocopied or printed. List his breed, sex, color, age, weight, distinguishing features, and where and when he was last seen. It is very important that Buddy is described accurately.
- Provide your name and two phone numbers; yours, of course, and a back-up in case you cannot be reached (we recommend using your state Foster Home Coordinator as a back-up)
Blanket the Neighborhood
With your flyers in hand (and hopefully, a team of supportive helpers), it’s time to blanket the neighborhood. Good places to post your flyers may include:
- Dog runs and parks
- Pet supply stores and pet grooming shops
- Veterinary offices
- Various commercial establishments, such as grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, Laundromats, bars, cafes and restaurants.
- Lampposts and trees. Cover extra heavily the areas where you think your pet was lost, as well as busy commercial and pedestrian sections of your town.
- Around schools, at kids’-eye level. Children can be more observant than adults, especially when it comes to animals.
When posting flyers at business locations be sure to ask permission before posting your flyers!
Hit the Internet
The Internet was made for networking. Send descriptive emails about your lost pet to your local friends, colleagues and family members, and ask them to pass on the info to anyone they can. Use social media platforms to further increase your reach.
Don’t Give Up!
This one’s important! And remember that many lost animals have found their way back home.
We hope that this doesn’t happen with any of our foster pets. But if it does, we hope that these tips help to make the situation less stressful.-Written by Jessica Semon, National Communications Director