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Lost Dog?

Have you lost your Berner? Here are important steps to take:

• Act immediately! Don’t assume you will walk down the street and find your dog. Don’t waste precious time by not rounding up help in the first hours of searching. Gather as many helpers as possible. Don’t be shy. Call the BMDCNV rescue hotline (1-877-426-3268) which gets checked once daily (usually in the evening) and/or post to the members list or club officials to get the word out.

• Contact local police, Animal Control Officers, shelters in the town where the dog was lost as well as adjoining towns. (Keep a list of who you spoke to and their phone numbers so that you can call back.) Call the officials at various times of day to ensure that different shifts are aware of your situation. Unfortunately this type of information does not necessarily get passed on to the next person.

• Consider sending a flyer to the Cable Access folks in the area where the dog was lost. In addition, most local papers post lost dog ads for free.

• Use the Lost Dog Template (download editable Word document or PDF) to create a flyer for your missing dog. Be sure that the number(s) you post will reach a person (not a machine) 24/7. Print up 500 copies of the flyers. (They’re cheaper in volume and you’ll need lots! Consider yourself lucky if you find your dog before using them up!). The photo on the flyer does not have to be a photo of the actual dog that was lost. The general public doesn’t know the difference from one Berner to the next.

• Charge your cell phone and make sure your message provides instructions as to what info to leave just in case you can’t be reached.

• Print maps of the area where the dog was lost to facilitate searching by helpers. Google Maps is really good for this since you can also get satellite shots with overlays of the streets (hybrid mode). Designate specific streets or areas to each searcher.

• Have searchers post the flyers to telephone poles (not trees) and to knock on every door. When going door-to-door it is helpful to have a color photo of your dog (unless the photo on your flyer is exceptionally good). If there is a shopping center nearby, have a volunteer stand in front of stores and pass out flyers to anyone who will take one. Most people are eager to help once they hear your story.

• Ask the owners if you can search their yards for the dog. Lost dogs are often frightened and will hide under shrubs, decks, cars or sheds or in barns and garages. Don’t just assume they will come running when called. If the searchers do not know your dog, consider providing them with a used article of your clothing (in a plastic bag) so that, if found, the dog will recognize your scent and not run from them. If a searcher does locate the dog, the best thing to do is to stay put and call the owner, rather than try to catch the dog who may be frightened. The dog may even run from its owner if approached to suddenly.

• If homeowner owners do not answer the door, leave a flyer in the door or on the mailbox.

• Stop all passers-by: runners and bikers, UPS and postal workers, parents at school bus stops, DPW and construction workers.

• Have something familiar for the dog to come back. If (s)he was lost from her home, be sure to leave the gate or garage door open. If away from home, park a familiar car at the location where she was lost, preferably with the door open. If you know that the dog has been sited at a particular location, leave an article of your used clothing at that location in case she returns.

• Establish a base of operations at the location where the dog was lost. Someone should remain at the base of operations (a) in case the dog returns and (b) for searchers to check in. (All searchers should have cell phones, if possible, with a list of numbers kept at the home base.)

• Once the dog has been found, be sure to go back and remove any flyers that have been posted on any utility poles or at businesses. (The maps you used for your search should be helpful here.) This is a common courtesy that many folks never bother to follow up with.

• Send thank you notes to your searchers. If a reward was offered, it should be given promptly to the people who took the time to call in with information and who where critical in locating your dog. If they won’t accept a monetary reward, consider a gift certificate or donation to a charity in their name.

Lost Dog Tool Kit

• Cell phones (with list of numbers for all searchers)
• Staple guns with extra staples
• Clear tape
• Plastic sleeves for inserting flyers in inclement weather (large zip-locks work well)
• Multiple copies of a map of the area
• Highlighters & pens for making maps
• Pens and paper
• Extra leashes
• Wet, smelly food to tempt frightened dog (small cans of cat food are handy)
• Change of shoes and socks
• First aid kit
• Bug spray
• Owner’s used clothing in plastic bags
• Food and water for searchers

For additional support, suggestions, and lost dog found stories to give you hope, please visit LostDogSearch


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