A lost dog search unfolds in phases. Here’s how the Retrievers can help at each phase of your search.

1. Immediate Response

The minutes and hours immediately following the loss of a dog are critical. Many dog owners underestimate the need for awareness–i.e., many more eyes looking for their dog than just their own. If you have combed the proximity with no sight or trace of your dog, you need to focus on spreading the word that your dog is missing.

How we can help

See our Resources page for actions to take in the immediate hours after a dog has gone missing. If you live in Minnesota, you’ll find contact information for local shelters and animal control agencies, which you should notify ASAP (and continue to check in with for the duration of the search).

2. Search Strategy & Consultation

If you’ve never lost a dog before, you may not know what to do next. And sometimes, you just need some tips, emotional support and encouragement.

How we can help

We are available for free phone consultation on an as-needed basis, even for owners of dogs lost outside of Minnesota. Call 612-547-9004. Read more about Search Strategy & Consultation.


3. Awareness Generation

This is the most important—and often the longest—phase of a missing dog search. The goal is to make people aware that there’s a lost dog in their area, so when they see a dog matching the description, they know the phone number to call. Without awareness of your search, people may assume a loose dog is just a stray neighbor’s dog. During the awareness phase, your phone number should be ringing. You may get false sightings, but if your phone is ringing, your awareness efforts are paying off.

How we can help

See our Resources page to download a flyer template in Word, create low-cost intersection signs and use Google Maps to help you organize placement.

If we have a team member in your area, we may also be able to get you started by providing some intersection signs and showing you how to make more. In our experience, getting large, bright signs deployed quickly is the most effective way to generate sighting calls.

4. Ground and/or Aerial Search

Ground searching may be needed specific cases, such as if the dog is possibly injured, incapacitated or entangled.

How we can help

While our team is limited in numbers, we can help you organize your friends and neighbors in a ground search. Depending on the location, we may also be able to conduct an aerial search using a thermal drone.


5. Humane Capture of Skittish Dogs

A dog on the run may perceive all humans as a threat, making it difficult to catch. The recovery of wary dogs is where the Retrievers can help most.

How we can help

If your dog is staying in the same general area and/or returning to a specific spot, call us. We’ll set up our “Missy Trap,” a large live trap with remote monitoring and dog-activated trigger. Created by a team member specifically for dogs who resist conventional small live traps, the Missy Trap has been an effective tool for us in the recovery of lost dogs. Read more about Humane Capture of Skittish Dogs >>


6. Lost Dog Prevention Education

Increasingly, rescues are saving severely undersocialized dogs–such as those from puppy mills and hoarding situations–who previously may may have been euthanized as unadoptable. Unsocialized dogs are particularly at risk of flight and very difficult to catch once on the loose. Even well-socialized dogs may panic in new situations, such as being separated from their family and put into a foster home.

If a foster has never lost a dog before, they may not realize how a moment’s carelessness or an ill-fitting collar can result in a loose dog and potentially tragic outcome. The Retrievers offers lost dog prevention education to rescue groups in an effort to keep all their dogs safe and secure. Read more about Lost Dog Prevention Education