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 It’s your worst nightmare come true: Getting separated from your dog. No one ever wants to think about it happening, but it can, especially during an emergency like a natural disaster. If you can’t find your dog, here’s what to do:

  1. Do not delay! Immediately start searching, before your dog roams too far. Enlist help from friends and neighbors to comb the neighborhood, calling your dog’s name loudly and yelling out words he responds to, like “come” or “treat,” and use other familiar noises he may react to like a whistle. Bring your dog’s favorite toy, ideally one that makes a noise he may hear from afar.
  2. Call the AKC Reunite Helpline (800-252-7894) if you’ve registered your dog with AKC Reunite. Report that your pet is lost and ask for a “Lost Pet Alert.”
  3. Create a flyer you can distribute everywhere. The flyer should include a recent photo of your dog, his name, his descriptive features (age, sex, colors, and approximate weight), his microchip number, and your contact information. Be sure to include your cell phone number, since you’re likely to be out searching rather than sitting at home by the phone. Distribute flyers to any pet-related locations you can think of, including: local animal shelters, veterinary offices, groomers, dog parks, pet stores, and doggie day care centers.
  4. Contact shelters and humane societies near you. Call and ask if you can fax or email a flyer to post. Don’t hesitate to check in with these organizations on a daily basis, since staffing can change from day to day.
  5. Spread the word on social media. Post a photo of your dog, along with your contact information, on as many platforms as possible— Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and NextDoor — to get the word out far and wide. Make sure you place your contact information on top of the photo (which you can do with the Facebook camera app,, or, so that your information isn’t separated from the post when it gets shared.
  6. Notify the local police if your dog has been missing for more than two hours. Give the police the flyer you made (see above), and get an officer’s contact information, so that you can follow up.

We know that losing your dog is terrifying. But it’s important to remain calm and optimistic. With all the technology and opportunities available to share information, there is a good chance you will get your pet back home.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Lost

  • Get him microchipped. A surefire way to make sure your dog can be identified is to have your veterinarian insert a microchip between his shoulder blades. It’s quick, virtually painless, and can be performed during a regular clinic visit.
  • Enroll his microchip with AKC Reunite. AKC Reunite is a pet recovery service that links your important contact information to your dog’s AKC registration and microchip number. When your dog is found, AKC Reunite agents will call, email, and text you.
  • Get an AKC Reunite collar tag. An AKC Reunite collar tag will enable any person who finds your pet to call the 24/7 toll-free number that will put that person in touch with you immediately.
  • Get a GPS collar. Relatively new to the market, GPS collars are quickly becoming invaluable for dog owners. They give you the ability to identify your dog’s location, within a few blocks, at a moment’s notice.
  • Teach your dog critical commands. Ensuring your dog always responds to the commands “come” or “stay” can help prevent an escape.