Like any dog in an unfamiliar environment, a new foster dog can be a high flight risk. This is especially true of undersocialized dogs — rescues from a puppy mill, hoarding situation, abusive home, or other poor conditions. These anxious dogs frequently bolt at the first opportunity, and we are often engaged to help rescues find their missing foster dogs.

Here’s what you should know about working effectively with the Retrievers to bring your foster dog home safely:

During A Search

Point of Contact: While we are often contacted directly by the lost dog’s foster, we do require that the rescue’s leadership be aware of the search. If the rescue director or foster director is unable to be our main point of contact, we ask that they formally turn that responsibility over to the foster (or other designated volunteer) for the duration of the case, so that it is always clear who has decision-making authority.

Volunteers: A rescue’s volunteer base can be hugely effective in the search for a lost dog. Because they’re already connected by the organization and already emotionally invested in the dog’s well-being, rescue volunteers can make excellent boots-on-the-ground helpers when properly directed. In fact, some of our most successful cases can be directly credited to a well-organized, collaborative force of rescue volunteers.

With any large group of volunteers, though, the challenge is to make sure that everyone is in sync, aware of best practices and working the same strategy to bring the dog home safely. Our case managers will stress these basics on every case, but we also ask that rescues emphasize this information with their volunteers, who may not be following our Facebook case threads:

  1. Sighting Locations: Do not publicly share exact sighting locations. Instead, call the information into the phone number on signs and flyers.
  2. Feeding Stations/Traps: Do not publicize the location of feeding stations and/or traps.
  3. Tactics: Please run all new ideas past the Retrievers case manager before implementing.
  4. Ground Searching: There’s an appropriate time for ground searching; however, in most cases, people on foot risk flushing a skittish dog out of its safe spot, causing a setback for the search and potentially scaring the dog into traffic. Please do not allow your volunteers to physically search for the dog. When a situation calls for “ground pounding,” your case manager will be sure to let volunteers know when they are needed on site.
  5. Trapping: Your rescue may have equipment and experience with trapping lost dogs. However, after you’ve engaged the Retrievers, we require that all client traps be taken in, and all trapping efforts be led by your case manager, using Retrievers equipment.

Lost Dog Prevention Education

Is your rescue doing everything possible to prevent lost dogs? The Retrievers can work with your foster director to establish best practices and protocols for transports, fostering and educating new adopters. We can also help your organization develop an effective “rapid response” to a lost dog situation that can save valuable time when a dog first goes missing. Contact info@theretrievers about lost dog prevention education through “Train the Trainer” sessions. If your group is in the Twin Cities area, we can present in person. Otherwise, we can work with you through a Google Hangout or other screen-sharing application.