The missing dog

DrPaul -

The missing dog

It is any pet owners worst fear … that gut wrenching feeling when a beloved pet goes missing. Sadly this occurrence happens more often than you may think. The Kennel Club reported that there are currently more than 70,000 pets-namely cats and dogs that are still missing in the UK.

That is a pretty scary statistic to take in but in better news Petlog data base was able to track that at least 75% of dogs and 45% of cats reported missing were reunited thanks to their microchip.

So what do you do if your dog disappears and what can you do to increase your chances of reuniting?

The Big Ones…Microchip and Identification! Thankfully it is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped but frequently the address and contact details are not updated with changes of information. Always ensure these details are current, it should be as important as updating your drivers license or banking information. When a stray dog is found and brought to the vets, police or dog warden they will be scanned for their chip in order to access your personal contact information so that you can be reunited.

In addition the UK Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved on a tag or written clearly. Your telephone number is optional but advisable for a quicker resolution.

Who to call?

Whether your dog goes missing on a walk or from home initially the first points of contact should be local veterinary practices including emergency vets and the dog warden for your local authorities. If a member of the public has picked up your dog these are the first places they are likely to be taken or contacted. You should also call your microchip provider to log your dog as missing and ensure all contact details are correct as soon as possible. If you suspect or know you dog to be stolen it is also important you also contact the police to file a report. Puppies and pregnant bitches are highly valued targets so take extra care and increase your security; this includes your social media. Posting about a new pup or an expecting mum without restrictions on your security sadly could increase risk of theft.

Why Runaway?

Usually larger active breeds can travel up to 5 miles and for smaller breeds around 1.5 miles, though it is important to say that most dogs are recovered well within a 2 mile radius from their home or the location they ran away. The most common reasons for dogs to runaway are:
· Catching the scent. For example a dogs sense of smell is so powerful that male dogs can smell a female in heat from miles away, equally female dogs in heat may also take off in order to mate. Neutering will significantly decrease the likelihood of this occurring.
· Boredom. Dogs are social animals that are negatively affected if left for long periods of time. If you have no choice but to leave for periods longer than 3 or 4 hours consider adopting another dog for companionship, hiring a dog walker or doggy day care service.
· A love for running! Certain breeds such as Huskies or Golden Retrievers simply love the great outdoors and will escape to stretch their legs. Keeping gardens as secure as possible with regular maintenance checks for loose fence panels or compromised shrubbery will help those escape artists who will take advantage of any week spots. Keep your dog well exercised in order to quench their thirst for breaking free.

The Power of Social Media

Finally in recent years the use of social media has been instrumental in reuniting owners with their lost pets. If your dog runs away posting on local forums or support groups is a great idea. If your dog is stolen, spread the word as far and as wide as possible. Pets Reunited and Dog Lost are two of the UK’s biggest dog rescue communities providing a range of services to aid in your search so registering with them is also a good place to start.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.