Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Danger at the Dog Park: What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

KIDNAP VICTIM: Che is a 6 month old Shar-pei/Pug mix with a surgical scar on his belly. He weighs about 30 pounds and is white with brown spots. IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION CALL (773) 415-9813.

Over the weekend, this cute Shar-pei/Pug was stolen at one of Chicago's dog beaches. Everyone considers dog parks and dog beaches safe havens to play and socialize. After all, these places are filled with dog lovers. Unfortunately, some bad people take advantage of the collegial atmosphere and tragedy can occur. Support for Che and his owner has been overwhelming. Posters have sprung up all over town and hundreds of people are on the look out. Che's owner has offered a $2500 reward for his safe return with no questions asked.

Che's owner has already been contacted by a scam artist claiming to have the dog. If your dog is lost or stolen, what should you do and how can you protect yourself from scam artists trying to take advantage of your situation?

Regardless of how conscientious and careful you are, Fido can end up lost or sadly, stolen. Your chances of recovering your pet are a million times better if he’s wearing an identification tag and he has a microchip. Collars can slip off; chips are permanent. Most veterinary offices and shelters have equipment to read a microchip. If the information is current, Fido will be back in your arms that much sooner.

The moment you realize that Fido is missing, do the following:
  1. Grab a recent picture of your pet and roam the area where he was last seen. Call your pet’s name as loudly as you can. He may be scared and hearing your voice is likely to draw him to you. In addition, talk to everyone you meet on your search. They may have information that will lead you to your dog.
  2. Contact all local shelters and animal-welfare organizations, animal-control agencies and veterinary offices, as well as the police. Provide a detailed description of your dog and any information about the incident.
  3. Visit the local shelters every day. You know exactly what your pet looks like. A shelter worker may have a different idea of what light brown, spotted or short hair means. Moreover, many dogs may fit your description.
  4. Alert your neighbors. Go door-to-door; ask people who live and work in the area if they’ve seen your dog.
  5. Place an article of your clothing on the front porch so your dog can smell home. Dogs have been known to return after many months and many miles
  6. Advertise! Prepare a flyer with your dog’s picture, your contact phone numbers and e-mail address and information about his last known whereabouts. Hang the flyers on signposts and telephone poles and in stores, animal hospitals, libraries, coffee shops and other locations in the area. Place ads in newspapers, online and on the radio. Place the information on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.Get the community involved--the more people that are on the look out the better.
The announcement should include a detailed description of your pet, such as breed, gender, age, weight, color and any special markings or characteristics. It’s despicable and unforgivable, but evil people may try to play on your heart strings while you are searching for your lost pet. Therefore, always leave out one identifying detail to protect yourself from scam artists. Likewise, never include your home address.

If someone calls or e-mails claiming to have your pet, ask her to describe your dog. If the person doesn’t mention this characteristic, she’s not trustworthy. Moreover, if the story seems far-fetched, it probably is. Be wary of any person who asks for money before returning your pet. Most Good Samaritans are not motivated by financial benefit. Always arrange to meet a stranger in a public place, such as an animal shelter, a pet-supply store or a veterinary office. Don’t pay a reward until you have your dog firmly in hand. If you believe that someone has stolen your pet or is trying to scam you, contact the police.

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