Action Plan

Where do I start?

Losing your dog is traumatic and overwhelming, but this search action plan will help you organize and conduct a search. If looking in your home/neighborhood fails to work find the dog, your job now is to get the word out. Remember you are your dog’s advocate.

Get Organized

  1. Organize all current information about the dog – Name, breed, fur color and markings, if he had a collar and tags, if he is microchipped, and find current pictures.  For safey sake, do not include pictures of children with your dog.  Remember, your flyers contain your phone number and other contact information including the location where you live.
  2. Create a familiar area – To encourage your dog to remain in the area set up a blanket or crate where the dog was last seen. Leave familiar smelling objects and maintain site with fresh smelly food and water.
  3. Mobilize – Ask friends and family to help get the word out. Exchange contact info and choose a point person for coordinating communication.
  4. Set ground rules – Remind search team not to shout or chase your dog if he is spotted. This may cause panic in the dog. Make sure they know to sit or lie down and be quiet, do not look at your dog, and lure with tasty treats. Each team member should carry treats and a leash with them at all times as well as copies of your flyers.
  5. Maps – Google Maps (or local Chambers of Commerce) is great for finding regional street maps and aerial views. Record sightings with dates, times and location.

Create Flyers and Posters

  1. Flyers – Create full page flyers to give out at businesses and 1/4 page* flyers for use in residential areas. Print 200 or more at a time.  More templates here. Flyers can be stuck in front doors or newspaper receptacles, but it is illegal to put them in the actual mailbox!    *Shrink full-size flyer so that 4 fit on to 1 page.
  2. Posters – Large posters should be made using neon posterboard. Keep it simple and easy to use. Include only brief description, “do not chase” instruction, and contact info. Place at intersections and your front yard.

Notify the Public

  1. Tag your car.
  2. Change your voicemail.
  3. Notify autorities – Animal control, Police/Sheriff’s Office, Animal service businesses, Local shelters/rescues, Vets offices, etc.
  4. Post to internet sites – Craigslist,, Instagram,  and our network of Facebook pages by state. Also search for and post on your local shelters/animal control webpages and their Facebook pages.
  5. Don’t forget to go old school and place ads in local newspapers, shoppers,  or on the radio.

When There are No Sightings

  1. Back to Beginning – Start process over from the beginning and expand your search area.
  2. Start internet search – Check on local shelter/rescue pages to see if they’ve been listed as ‘found’ but also check their ‘adoptable’ list too. Other pages, Petfinder, Petango, Craigslist Pet sections.