It's the situation every pet parent dreads. For those of us who consider our dogs part of our family, the thought that they could slip out or go missing seems inconceivable. And yet, lost dogs are anything but an uncommon scenario. In the USA alone, 10 million pets go missing every year. Of course, prevention is ideal, but for pet parents who do happen to get this unfortunate news, the next best step is to have a solid game plan. We spoke with Chicago food and lifestyle influencer Sarah of @agirlaboutchicago about her recent lost dog scare and the actions that helped reunite her with her beloved pup, Chloe.
Can you describe Chloe and your special relationship with her in a few sentences?
I have had Chloe since I was 21 years old (for 9 years)! She is extremely independent, curious, sassy, outgoing, and smart. She has been with me through various moves, job changes, relationship changes, our engagement, and most recently our wedding. She is an integral part of our lives and my husband and I could not imagine life without her!
How did you first realize Chloe had slipped out?
I was actually in Austin visiting some friends when my husband, Seth, called to share that Chloe had gone missing. He had been out on the back patio with a few friends having a drink when Chloe slipped out through the front metal gates (it must have only been a few minutes max). My husband and his friends searched all around and were devastated they could not find her.
We later found out that she had simply wandered around the corner to the Subway on Western Ave, only to be immediately found and safely taken away by a local business owner of Blaze Chicago. I had landed in Austin the day she went missing so I swiftly updated my flight so that I could fly back home to Chicago the first flight back the next morning.
Walk us through your first course of action when you realized she was missing. What was most helpful?
We posted that Chloe was missing on PawBoost, which is essentially a database of amber alerts for lost pets. Millions of pet lovers have signed up for local lost and found pet alerts on PawBoost and have been happily reunited! The most helpful actions I took were posting on PawBoost (thanks to the help of my sister who had been traveling in Austin with me), sharing updates via IG Stories on my social media, and calling my microchip provider for any tips/advice.
Because we had a lost dog post on PawBoost, we would get active notifications whenever another user nearby shared any "found dog" posts on the site. Chloe went missing around 8:45-9 PM on Friday, February 25. Around 11:30 AM on Saturday, I got an email update from PawBoost with the following subject line: "Found dog near Chicago, IL 60622: Could this be Chloe?" which was posted by Elyse, the local business owner mentioned above. Once I saw that email notification pop up, I knew that we had found her.
I have to add that my incredible community of followers, family, personal friends, neighbors, local good samaritans offered to help both me and my husband search for Chloe on foot, hang up flyers nearby and share to their own social networks, as well. This was so incredibly appreciated and really helped us feel like we had all of the support of our community.
What else do you recommend for pet parents who find themselves in a similar situation?
If other pet owners also find themselves in a similar predicament, I definitely recommend following these steps:
Do not panic. Try to stay calm and take a deep breath because chances are more likely than not that their dog will be returned safely.
Call people you trust and can rely on to help you with a game plan. Start out by sharing on social media and other similar apps (Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, Citizen, etc.). Think of any channel you can take advantage of to disseminate your message and get the notice across - people love dogs and will be willing to share.
Join every Facebook group that is related to dogs/missing pets in your local neighborhood, area, city, etc. Again, people love dogs and will be willing to share and help in any way!
Upload your lost dog posting to PawBoost and contact all local shelters/vet clinics/animal-related businesses to notify them that your dog is missing.
If your dog is microchipped, call the microchip company to make sure your contact details have been registered/updated. If you do not know your microchip company, it's likely going to be one of these (HomeAgain, AKC Reunite, AVID, PetLink, 24PetWatch, ACA's Microchip Animal Rapid Recovery Services, Homeward Bound Pet, Petkey). Call them and try to find more details on your pet's microchip ID details.
Put out belongings that your dog would recognize by your front door/front yard (we put out her collar, empty food/water bowls, and some dirty laundry of hers) in case she wandered back and recognized familiar scents.
If focusing your search on foot, I would really prioritize the streets in close proximity to your apartment/home. It's unlikely they got super far in a short period of time, so I'd go searching on foot and speak to any neighbors, people walking by, etc., to see if they can share any helpful information.
Are there any other tips or pointers you can share with pet parents?
The biggest thing to note is that people should be careful and watch out for scammers! We had put up flyers nearby that had a large monetary reward so we were getting LOTS of scammers texting and calling. It was very easy to point out who was trying to scam us (trying to get us to immediately come to pick her up, sending us random Google verification codes to click on, etc.), but I'd emphasize the importance of watching out for scammers trying to make a quick buck.
All of us at Figo are so relieved that Chloe and Sarah were quickly reunited. If you're a pet parent in a similar situation looking for even more tips,we've got you covered.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.