It’s the feeling that chills every pet owner. You call your dog’s name and she doesn’t come. You might face an empty backyard, a slipped leash, a left-open front door. Your dog could be anywhere, but the one thing you know is she’s not where she belongs—home with you. The important thing is not to panic. Take a deep breath and start going through the steps below. If you’re calm, methodical, and thorough, you’ll be reunited with your pet in no time. Phase I: As soon as you notice your pet is gone
As anyone who’s a fan of crime shows on TV can tell you, the most critical time in a missing-persons case is the first 24 hours. The same goes for missing dogs. If your dog has decided to go on an off-leash adventure, the sooner you start looking, the sooner you’ll find him. The longer your dog has to go free, the larger the perimeter you’re going to have to search will be. So as soon as you ascertain that the dog truly is gone (not sleeping behind the couch or hiding in the basement), it’s time to set the wheels in motion.