The basic approach to catching a scared lost dog is trapping it. Most super shy dogs, especially those without any bond to any one person or a home they know to return to, aren't catchable by people--these dogs will likely run away from anyone they see, so it's not like we can just search the woods, find the dog, and grab it. So--we use feeding stations to keep the dog in one area. If a dog has food, there is no reason to move to another area. If we don't put out food, the dog may go in search of it--and potentially move outside of the area where we've flyered, and we risk losing the dog.
You need to set up a blog and a sighting map. If you've had no sightings, you should hire a tracker to help you in narrowing down where to search. We recommend Sam with Pure Gold Pet Trackers: http://www.puregoldpettrackers.com/
You'll need to set up feeding stations. Put food at the last known location of the dog--and then get Sam out to track the dog for you and help you determine where else to set up feeding stations. Put wet cat food on top of it (cat food is stinkier than dog food). When you choose your station locations, you want to find a flat place, along with a tree or fence (so we can eventually replace the feeding stations with traps, and chain the traps up.) You also want your stations to be as close to where you saw your dog as possible. If your dog doesn't have food, it will wander in search of it. To keep in one area, you need to put down food and then have folks check the stations every day, preferably twice a day. You want to put food at the site from where the dog escaped, too--even if the dog hasn't been seen there in several days or weeks.
Monitor those morning and evening. We're looking to see if the food has been eaten, if there are any discernible tracks at the feeding station location, and whether we can ID the dog on the motion-sensor camera. As long as the feeding stations are being eaten and we're getting sighting calls in the same area, we're in good shape. We then put out a trap and set up a monitoring schedule for the trap--especially in super cold temperatures. We need permission to place the trap on private property and are not allowed to place it on public property. The traps are about $400, so we don't want to lose it. We chain it to a tree or something. We will likely catch raccoons or cats by mistake. When we set up feeding stations, we want to set them up with trapping in mind--so near a tree, in a secluded area.
Once you have a trap, we need someone to go and get the trap, and then a few people need to learn how to set it up. Even though you aren't ready to trap now, you may want to start working on acquiring a trap or two, since it can take some doing. You'll need tarps and bike chains and locks for each trap.
For flyering, you'll need to coordinate the volunteers. Whoever coordinates on-site should print out the sighting map for each volunteer, and assign them a specific area to flyer. You'll want to find out which streets were flyered, and put that on the map, too. When folks flyer, you want about every-other lamp post done, and all flyers need to go up in plastic sheet protectors (opening at bottom) or zip lock bags. 500-1,000 flyers in the area is a good start. Again, you should have Sam come out to run a track and help you determien where you should target your flyering.
For sightings, ask each caller to ID the dog with non-leading questions--we want size and color descriptions, as well as what condition the dog appears to be in (running, walking, limping, skinny, etc.). We want to know if the caller has seen the dog before, and what time and day the caller saw the dog. Lastly, we want to know if the caller can help us by allowing us to set up a feeding station on their property, monitoring it, and allowing us to maybe place a trap there in the future (which means folks on and off their property regularly).
For publicity, draft a press release. It needs to get posted on a website, and then linked to the blog. This gives an air of legitimacy and is handy when asking places for permission to trap. Send the press release out to the area media and handle follow-up calls. You need someone to research area listservs and home-owner associations and then post about the dog, with the flyer and press release attached, to all the area listservs and neighborhood associations. In many parts of Montgomery County I have already established a network of listservs and volunteers for email notification - ask me about that. Develop an email list of all area schools and businesses, and email them the same information--asking them to post the flyer.
You'll also want to set up the monitoring schedule for the feeding stations. Please tell all volunteers NOT TO CHASE if they see the dog, but rather to sit down and face away from the dog.
Compiled by Robin, Daphne, and Irene
Sample blogs and maps of recent searches: