Losing your dog is a nerve-wracking and distressing experience. In 2012, at least two dogs were lost everyday in Singapore, according to statistics from animal welfare groups. Being in 2015, I can imagine that the number has increased. Browsing Facebook, you can see the same groups posting about lost and found dogs almost every other day. Dogs go missing for a multitude of reasons; unsecured doors/gates, ninja dog skills (jumping over walls), athletic abilities (dog gets overly excited chasing something and escapes the leash), and the list goes on. Whatever the reason, seeing a picture of your own furkid on a “DOG MISSING” Facebook post and anxiously awaiting news must be a heart wrenching experience for owners.
I actively follow many dog welfare groups’ social media pages simply because I want to help spread news about lost and found dogs. These pages are frequented by animal lovers, and many a kind soul that would willingly help share your pup’s photos on their personal pages. Even though I’ve never lost Polar and have never had to resort to it, here are some best practices that we’ve gleaned from seeing how people react after losing their pets.
What do you do if you find/lose a dog?
1) Calm down
First step, be calm. I know it’s probably the last thing on your mind but it is important to think things through calmly and logically. Finding a lost pup can be a long, drawn out process with false leads and close calls, so the important thing to remember is to take things step by step.
2) Inform the authorities
You should make a police report, call SPCA (6287 5355) and AVA/Centre for Animal Welfare Control (CAWC)(1800 476 1600) to inform them about your missing pet. You can also submit a lost pet report through this SPCA link. This helps when people locate your dog and inform these two parties. You should also have your dog’s photos and details on standby, like:
- dog’s name
- colour and any defining habits or mannerisms
- where and what time he/she was last seen
- whether your dog had any ID/collar on
- any aggression towards humans or other pets
- your contact details
3) Put up flyers & search favourite haunts
Printing flyers and putting it up at areas where you last saw him and his favourite haunts can increase the chances of finding your dog. Usually when dogs get lost, they tend to hang around areas that they are familiar to if they can. I say this based on my personal experience of many years ago, when I had a Poodle that got lost. We searched high and low and at the end of the day, she was just at the park we always visited, sitting there like she was waiting for me.
4) Use social media
We all know how powerful social media is. It can give you extra mileage in your search.
It is important that you post your dog’s information on your own social media, for example, a Facebook status update with pictures, or even more comprehensive – create a Facebook event page. After which, get your friends and family to share the original post/event. This helps you build a community of people helping to track your pet, and to provide real-time updates easily if there’s any information on your dog.
Remember to create the post with a clear header, for example: “MISSING SPITZ, LAST SEEN XXX, CONTACT XXXXXXXX”.
You should then share the post with the numerous pet welfare pages. This list is not exhaustive, but it covers the main ones in Singapore:
- A Stray’s Life
- Lost pets Singapore
- Lost and found pets in Singapore
- LostPaws SG
- Purely Adoptions
- SOSD Singapore
- ASD Lost & Found
One more final pointer to note; always make sure the post that you make on Social Media is set to “Public”. This allows people to see the post when people start sharing it.
So that’s our check list for what to do if your dog goes missing. Once you have done the above, the only thing left is to be patient and wait for good news. Offering a reward can also increase the chances of people returning your dog. The world is full of trolls and on and off we may run into some idiots who try to scam you of your money by giving you false leads but be strong and hang on.
Preventive measures to prevent your dog from going missing
Let’s talk a little bit about the measures I’ve taken to prevent my active pup, Polar, from running away.
Essentially, here are some of the things you should do when you get a dog:
- Microchip your dog and register with AVA
- Install additional security barriers in your home (Dog gates/ fences)
- Put your contact details on your dog
- Train your recall skills (We’re still working on this!)
The first thing we did when we got Polar register him with the AVA as he came with a microchip. Most dogs that your purchase from pet shops or adopt from dog welfare organisations already come micro-chipped. If your dog does not have one, we strongly encourage you to do so.
2) Security barriers
We live in a landed property with a driveway, so it’s imperative that our dog doesn’t run out of the house when there’s a car coming in. However, we also wanted to train Polar to poop in the garden rather than in the house, so we had a bit of a conundrum here.
After discussion with the family, we decided to partition the garden area so that Polar would still have his freedom to roam around and do his business outside, but would not have access to the front door and car porch. This would mean both blocking access to the front door from inside, and blocking access to the car porch outdoors.
Indoors, we use a baby gate to restrict his movements whenever we have guests, or when we need to leave Polar without supervision.
We got our baby gate online ($79.90) from a baby supplies site (yes, having a dog is indeed like having a baby) and if you are interested in getting it, you can click here. We chose this model because it is a two-way swing, easier to get in and out. Setting up was pretty easy, there wasn’t any drilling involved and we bought an additional extension ($15) to fit the width of our corridor, so be sure to measure your area too. There are many other brands and some of my friends use the one from Ikea as well. However, quite a few of them don’t sell the extensions so we were really happy to find this one.
Apart from using this baby gate, we also use fences to close off-limits areas for Polar as we can’t install the baby gate outdoors. We bought these playpen fences online ($10/piece) as well – from Nekojam, and reinforced the joints with cable tie. If you’re interested to get them, you can click here.
So now that we have secured the premises, what’s left to do is training your dog’s recall and putting a dog tag on him. I’ll blog about our training woes with Polar’s recall in a separate post. For now, let’s talk about dog tags.
4) Dog Tag
Should your dog still manage to escape, a good way to aid people in contacting you sooner is to put a dog tag on your dog with your particulars.
A dog tag with the right information will ensure that we’ll be easier to contact if he, with his robust athletic skills, manages to ninja his way out of his confines.
Although dog tags are functional items, I’m very particular about its aesthetics, because why choose a boring dog tag when a pretty one does the same thing and looks nice at the same time?
Nekojam was very kind to share with me TagExpress from RedDingo, a customisable dog tag. You may find this brand familiar, we got our Martingale collar from this brand. The dog tag comes in the form of a card, with your order number, the website address to access to customise your order. It is that easy. Previously, the process was a lot more complicated, involving quite a fair bit of paperwork and snail mail. We’re glad that the digital age has made this process more efficient.
To show you how easy it is, I’m going to do a step by step for you.
First, you’ll need to scratch with a coin to reveal your code. Each code is unique and can only be used once.
The code will be something like the picture above.
Next, go to www.reddingo.com/tagexpress to input the order no. and code. The main page will look like this:
After you enter the order and code, you’ll go to the next page where you can choose the type of tag you would like. There are 5 different types:
Each style will have its own set of designs. Enamel with Stainless Steel has the most designs!
Once you have selected the design that you like, you’ll go to the next page where you can choose the size of the tag, and input what you would like engraved onto the tag:
I chose the Medium Enamel with Stainless Steel with an anchor design for Polar. What you include on the tag is entirely up to you. I personally feel that the following details are important:
Once you click next, you’ll have to input your delivery details.
After this, you’ll reach the review page for you to verify that the information that you have added is correct before submitting your order:
And you’ve reached the end! You should land safely here:
After submitting your order, you will get regular email updates from RedDingo on the progress of your dog tag and you should receive the final product within 3 – 5 working days.
We got ours in about a week because there was a public holiday in between.
What do you think? Polar approves of it!
Now that you have a pretty dog tag that has your information, you can feel slightly more assured that your dog’s safety is more certain. Of course it will definitely help if you and your dog have good recall protocols (something we are still trying our best to work on).
If you would like to get this tag, check NekoJam out, they stock it and it’s retailing for $19 but if you use this quote polarthecurious! it waives off $5 off your purchase! (Hurray!!)
We hope you found this post useful. Until next time, stay curious!!