I have learned a bit about what to do when a pet goes missing. I hope it never happens to any of you, but if it does here is what I have learned:
FIND A PET-take a photo and post on Craigslist, they have a free lost and found section. This is really helpful if you cannot catch the animal. I have gotten many Billy sightings and although I follow up on all of them if I knew it was really her I would change my strategy and focus.
If you have the animal take it to a vet to see if it is chipped, my understanding is it is free and you can find the owner fast if the animal is chipped. Taking an animal to a shelter is something I would research to make sure they are a no kill. If it is a certain breed there is normally organizations you can contact that will help. If you do take the animal to a shelter post the photo on Craigslist and say what shelter you took it to.
MISSING PET-From my experience I recommend chipping. I used Home Again only because it is what my vet had, I have not done comparisons on different chips. I subscribed to their service which sends out an alert when your pet goes missing to all the shelters, vets and volunteers. When you subscribe you can volunteer to receive notices when animals go missing in your area and up to a 25 mile radius. I ran into neighbors and vets who confirmed they had seen the notice and I get them as I volunteered. Having Billy chipped gives me a bit of comfort, what I don't like about it is vets don't automatically scan for a chip so if someone has stolen your pet the vet will not know to scan.
If an animal is killed on the road Caltrans (in California) has no obligation to notify anyone and can dispose of the animal however they see fit. They will sometimes bring the animal to a shelter who will sometimes scan for a chip. (this info was given to me by a shelter employee, I did not verify with Caltrans. )
The first 12 hours are critical, 80% find rate if you take immediate action. Get neighbors involved, get signs posted with photos ASAP. Give a good brief description-size, color, gender, name, contact info. Experts say dogs and cats will do different distances based on what made them leave. A dog running because they are spooked can be a couple miles away, a dog on a sent can be closer. If you have another dog (your missing dog likes) it was suggested to take them with you on the search and to cut up hot dogs and leave them around. The lost dog may pick up the sent of the other dog and the hot dogs may draw the dog out with the goal of a sighting.
I Google Earthed my neighborhood and tried to think like a dog (not looking at street maps but more the natural path a dog would take). After handing out flyers to neighbors I next hung them at every entrance/exit to the area I identified from Google Earth. (Rural dogs on average will travel further than city dogs). I then hung flyers on all the exit/entrances into town. We had a town Christmas parade and I went early in the morning and hung flyers along the parade route. Also hung flyers at local vets, near schools, gave flyers to sheriff department, UPS and postman. I did not do, but think it is a good idea to give flyers to trash men.
I put an ad in the local paper and on their website. I did not get any leads from this but would do again, in my case there is a good chance someone has Billy and I want everyone to be aware, (covering all bases makes you feel a little better as well). Post on Craigslist under Lost and Found in all areas surrounding you. You will need to update regularly to keep on the first page and monitor it and your local animal shelters websites. Go to the animal shelters and talk to the staff and leave flyers with them as well. I have heard when looking on the shelter sites to look for both genders as they sometimes get posted wrong.
I have a friend in New Zealand who is an engineer, I asked him why you can find a lost phone but not your pet. This was his response, I had no idea these products were available:
Sorry to hear about your dog.
There are collars that you can get for tracking your dog. They are only really useful if your dog gets lost rather than stolen as a thief can simply take the collar off. Like the phone app, they are only useful while the battery is charged and if a dog is lost then it doesn't know to go get its battery charged and so they are only useful in the early stages of losing your dog.
Usually the collars only report their position every couple of minutes in order to conserve battery power and this means that they only give a general area where the dog was, if the dog is moving. Also, the GPS is unreliable or doesn't work in some places such as if a dog crawls under a house. Despite this they can be useful for finding lost dogs and there are a couple of brands out there.
Mostly it is impractical to embed the GPS and battery inside the dog (to prevent a thief from simply taking the collar off) because the chip is too big and because of the need to charge the battery.
Interestingly, the passive chip that you have got in your dog currently is an RFID chip and that is the same type of chip that is used in the Japanese nails that glow when close to a smart phone.Also, in the area of active tracking, some people use GPS tracking similar to the collars to track their kids, hopefully just in case they get kidnapped rather than not trusting them! It is also possible to get your luggage with a GPS tracker these days so you can find it when the airline loses it for you. There are also trackers for your car and stand alone trackers that you can put inside a package with other stuff so that you can track your package through the post system.
One very useful application of a dog collar tracker is to create a virtual fence around your house. Then as soon as your dog wanders away from your house you get an SMS text and someone can go get it before it gets too far away. Or with the addition of an electric shock device then you can train your dog not to wander away.
See http://www.amazon.co...training collar
or http://www.amazon.co...training collar
The Australians use something similar to this on the very large outback cattle stations where they don't have any fences and they still want to keep their cattle in a particular area.