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If your dog or cat goes missing, start your search immediately. For dogs: Search your neighborhood, enlisting help, but when your dog is spotted, LURE your dog to you with treats. Do not chase, which could become a dangerous game of keep-away for your dog! For cats: Search near your home. Search tree limbs, shrubbery, and under outbuildings with flashlights. Don’t give up! For excellent, in-depth strategies and tactics to recover your lost dog, read this section of the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin website.

Sometimes pet owners opt to just wait for their missing dog or cat to come home. They give up before even trying. They won’t even leave the yard or make a phone call. That is called “magical thinking.” Yes, the missing pet knows where it lives. Yes, the pet might just be walking it’s territorial boundary, a daily occurrence. Yes, every neighbor might know your pet. Yes, they might just wait until the morning. Yes, their pet can take care of itself… NO, it can’t!

All those excuses won’t keep a stray pet safe. Search immediately.

It’s important to look right away, before something terrible happens.

If you can, take time off work to search. Post pictures in social media. Put flyers in businesses. Ask your neighbors if they saw your pet or any unusual activity around your home. Visit ALL animal control facilities in your region every few days. Make and post bright tagboard posters and and lawn signs with photos of your pet and your phone number. If your state has a Lost Dogs network, register your missing pet, so photos are distributed online. Hurry!

Did a dog fighting ring steal your pet? They need bait dogs and cats on a near-daily basis because they can die too quickly. Do you think they are not nearby? They are extremely secretive; how would you ever know?

Do you have a Class B dog dealer nearby? Animal research is a billion-dollar business. Dealers are roaming widely to locate strays; it’s how they make a living and they are very good at luring dogs to their vehicles. They don’t advertise, so if you think you don’t have Class B dog dealers operating in the region, think again. You might. If your dog goes missing, you’ll never see it again if a dealer found it.

What about wild predators such as owls or coyotes or cougars?

Your pet might not ever be seen again. He might end up as tufts of fur in a nest.

What about accidental mis-identity or transfer to another area?

What if the collar is missing and a passerby believes a dog or cat needs rescuing and drives it to the pound an hour away?

What if the intake clerk decides the rescuer is lying to her about not being the owner, so the pet is identified as an “owner surrender” animal and gets euthanized within minutes? Only strays are guaranteed a holding period by law; owner-surrenders are not protected. People pretend they don’t own the pet, to avoid paying surrender fees. It happens all the time.

But it’s more likely that a soft-hearted person has provided temporary shelter to a pet who is not wearing any ID, with hopes of finding the owners or finding it a home. They provide temporary shelter because many animal control facilities euthanize stray animals within a few days and they want to save that stray pet’s life.

Keep looking!

Eventually, your pet might end up in the shelter many weeks after you stopped looking. Don’t let that happen or your pet could be euthanized. Keep looking!