Finding Lost and Stolen Pets
I have been searching for my stolen Dalmatian,
Dulcie, since March 31 of
1997. I have come up with ideas of my own, as well as having done a lot of
research into what steps to take to try to locate a stolen or lost dog. I
have tried to help many other people who have gone through this most
devastating experience, and some dogs have been recovered with these ideas.
I do hope some of this information will help.
Do not give up on your search. You CAN find your lost dog, but it is
important to start to work as soon as you discover he or she is gone.
Also you might check the Last Chance for Animals
Stolen Pets website. This site also explains what
bunchers and Class B Dealers are and their role in the disappearance of many pets in the US
Please do email Last Chance for Animals, as they are a group in
Los Angeles who has been fighting pet theft for over 20 years. They may be
able to help, and it helps them to know that if many dogs are missing from
a certain area, that is an indicator of a pet theft ring in operation.
for sites to post and view lost and found pets.
Steps to take:
Call the police or sheriff right away if you know your pet was stolen.
They MUST take a report. Do not let them refuse to take a stolen pet report.
Call your local shelters and animal control, and be sure to call any shelter
or pound within a 50 mile radius. It is best to visit the shelters yourself,
as many shelters are too busy to look for your dog and may miss him or her.
Make flyers, using good, clear photos. Note any distinuishing markings or
behaviors. Offer a reward, if you can, but DO NOT post how much the reward
is. Be sure to note on the flyer if your dog is on any medications or needs
regular veterinary care.
Get at least 200 flyers to start with, and post them where ever people will
gather and have the chance to see them.
Post them at:
Give flyers to:
- Animal shelters
- Veterinary offices
- Pet shops
- Feed stores
- Sheriff and Police departments
- Fire Departments
- Grooming shops
- Tack stores
- Grocery stores
- Gas and service stations
- Day care centers
- Rest stops
- Video stores
- Bars and Taverns
You may want to put on your flyer a small notation that you will be picking
up the flyers when your dog is found, and DO SO! This helps keep public
relations on a positive note for the next person who may want to post a
flyer, and may mean that your flyer stays up a bit longer. Keep rechecking
where you have posted them and post again if necessary.
Keep a supply of flyers in your car, and give one to other dog lovers you
happen to run across. Give them to anyone with a dog in their car, especially
if that person has the same breed as yours. Dog lovers are happy to help keep
an eye out for a lost or stolen dog.
Advertise in every newspaper and penny saver type paper you can. Some
papers will place ads for free in papers for lost dogs.
Write letters to the editors of your local paper, and let the public know
that pet theft happened in your area, and warn people to please watch their
pets carefully and to report any suspicious vehicles or people to the local
law enforcement agency.
Call breeders in your area and ask for their help - they can pass along the
information to any local or state wide breed clubs. Send a flyer to them.
If you can, find others on the web with your breed of dog, and ask a few
to help spread the word. Whoever has your dog may try to breed it, and may
contact someone with a bitch or stud of that breed. Watch for the puppy ads
of your breed if your dog is not found and is not spayed or neutered.
Some breeds have a page for lost dogs of that particular breed. You can also
send out lost/stolen dog notices to various breed email lists, and ask that
it be forwarded. Having your dog's picture uploaded on the web can help.
Build a webpage if you can, and make a printable flyer for your dog. You can
also hand out flyers at any nearby dog shows, and get a catalog. You might
send flyers to the handlers and owners listed there.
Call radio stations and tv news stations. Give a good description of your
dog, and be aware that not everyone will know what breed your dog is. You
must be very clear in describing your dog. Give its age, markings, sex and
if your dog is spayed or neutered. Hopefully your dog IS spayed or
neutered! Describe your dog's personality as well.
Contact road crews. Tell them that if they find your dog on the road, dead or
injured, that you need to know about it. Not knowing is the worst part of a
dog who may be dead. It is better to know, in my opinion, that your dog is
dead than to wonder for the rest of your life what may have happened.
You might want to get a notebook in which you can write down all the people,
numbers, shelters, etc. that you have called and sent flyers to. Your vet may
have the AMVA directory from last year, and if he or she will let you have
the outdated directory, you may want to send flyers to as many vets in your
area and state as you can. Check off the name of each vet as you address your
envelopes. You might make a short cover letter to send along, and ask if
they can share this flyer with others in their area. They may even be able to
give them to their pharmaceutical delivery people to help distribute.
Be aware of scams!! DO NOT pay anyone for any reason your reward money until
you have your dog in your hands!!
Some scammers will call you and tell you they have your dog in some other
state, and they will send you the dog after you send them some money. Do not
fall for this. You will never see your dog nor your money, if you do.
These ideas may help you find your dog, if he or she was stolen or picked up
by someone who found a wandering dog.
Then, there are Bunchers.
A Buncher is a person, licensed by the USDA, who can gather dogs and pets
from "random sources". This includes answering "free to good home" ads in the
papers, and on community bulletin boards. They can take dogs and cats from
shelters, and they have been known to gather from the streets and even from
Bunchers have been known to steal dogs from vehicles, parked outside the
corner grocery store, while the owner shops for a loaf of bread. It can
happen within minutes!
Bunchers can then sell your dog to Class B dealers, who then can sell your
beloved dog to research facilities, other dealers, pet shops, at auctions,
and to other breeders, including puppy mills. They often will not try to use
dogs that are tattooed, but may not discover your dog is tattooed right away.
It is illegal for research facilities to use dogs that are tattooed, so you
MUST contact any and all research facilities in your state, and even surrounding
You can find out more about
Bunchers and Class B Dealers on the
Last Chance for Animals Stolen Pets site.
There is also information on the
The Pet Safety and Protection Act
and how you can help
get the Pet Safety and Protection Act passed. This bill before will eliminate the
Class B dealers. (Bunchers and Class B Dealers are
people who are sanctioned by the USDA to steal and sell stolen pets for
profit, and this needs to stop.)
Finding a stolen pet is hard work. It is endless and heartbreaking. There is
not much support for those with stolen pets, unfortunately. Friends and family
will want you to give up, adopt another dog, get on with your life. There are
few people who truly understand the endless questions and worries and fears
that you will have. Is your dog safe? is it alive? is it being abused? is it
warm and being fed properly? is it being used for research? The questions
and the worry haunt you endlessly.
LCA has information on preventing
pet theft on their site as well. Never turn
your back on your dog, even a fenced yard and locked gate are no guarantees
that your dog will not be stolen. Microchipping and tattooing your dog are no
guarantees against theft, but they do increase your chances of recovering your
missing pet. The only guarantee against pet theft is that you watch them as
carefully as you would a human baby.
I hope this page will help some people in their search for missing pets, and
I hope that by reading this, it will help prevent pet theft from ever happening
to many more.
This page has been a difficult one to put together. It is made with a lot of
love, and the many tears I have shed for my own stolen Dalmatian, Dulcie.
- Trainers...both dog and horse trainers may be willing to help.
- Farriers...if your dog is out in the country with someone, farriers can help
to keep open eyes on farms and ranches that may have dogs not visible from
- Schools...ask the principal of any area schools if you can give a flyer to
each teacher to show the class. Kids are great at spotting dogs.
- Delivery people and agencies
- Gas and Oil Delivery
- Postal employees (post one in post office lobbies too, and ask if one can be
posted at the time clocks of the employees)
- UPS offices and delivery employees
- Road crews and construction workers
- Garbage collectors
©2003 by Lisa A. Messmer.
LOST AND FOUND LINKS
Pet Theft Prevention Tips by Michelle Baiocchi
Last Chance for Animals
Missing Pet Network
The Complete Guide to Lost Pet Prevention and Recovery
Midwest Missing Pet Network
Save the Dalmatians of Southern Califonia
Page updated: February 7th 2014