Finding a Lost Dog

#3  Contact Shelters

If someone found your dog, their likely first instinct is to call Animal Control but if they don’t live within your local government boundary then they may take them to another jurisdiction’s shelter (think Fairfax/Alexandria/Arlington).  Call them morning and evening to see if they have your dog -- a “white fluffy dog - Samoyed.”  Personally visit the shelters every day or ask someone to do it for you.  Also contact Samoyed rescue groups (Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue).

#2  Signs/Fliers

If you were not able to find your dog in your first quick search then you need to start posting signs, pronto, on every block surrounding your house (or wherever they were lost) that pedestrians (& drivers) can easily see.  

  1. “LOST DOG” - big & bold - at the top of the page

  2. PHOTO (full-body 3/4 view, high contrast between the dog and background. Use a generic Samoyed photo if you don’t have one of your own to use.)

  3. “White fluffy dog” (not everyone knows what a Samoyed is and may assume your sammy is a “White Chow,” Eskie, Husky or other breed).

  4. “Needs medication”  (disincentive for anyone to keep your dog)

  5. “REWARD”  (don’t specify an amount)

  6. PHONE NUMBER (that you’ll answer 24/7)

To secure these signs to utility poles, you’ll need a strong tape such as packaging tape -- a lot of it.  Teams of two are great -- one holds the sign(s), the other tapes (two signs can simultaneously be posted on a pole to ensure that your message is viewable from both directions).   If you don’t have a printer, then use a fat felt-tip marker and take a photo to a store with a copier and start out with several hundred copies -- more the better, your search teams should each have an ample supply (of fliers and packaging tape).

Other strategic places to post fliers

  1. dog parks, pet stores, dog groomers, dog kennels, veterinarians

  2. schools, bus stops, metro entrances

  3. groceries, laundromats, community bulletin boards

  4. bus, taxi, FedEx, UPS drivers and mail carriers

  5. utility workers, highway workers - anyone out day or night

Print a detailed map of your neighborhood and carefully track the streets on which you’ve posted signs and the streets where you’ve gone door-to-door. Even if you are informed that your dog has been seen in one direction, make sure that all the directions have your lost dog signs posted -- in case the report was mistaken.  Go back and check your signs periodically to replace any that have been removed (if someone’s thinking of keeping your dog they’ll remove nearby signs). 

Food can be a great enticement, there are accounts of grilling bacon in the backyard attracting a lost dog back home.  A Silver Spring, Maryland, dog that had been missing in a forested area for days came running to its owners after they brought folding chairs to sit on and opened up two aromatic rotisserie chickens.

Loudon County, Virginia’s animal shelter has a great idea for door hanger signs to leave when you are going door-to-door and people aren’t home.        

The process of searching for a lost dog is labor-intensive and time-sensitive. Ask friends, neighbors (and your dog club) to help swiftly work through these action-items.  Assign one or more people to take charge of each item.  #1-9 on this list should be completed or underway within the first couple hours of realizing your dog is missing.  The sooner the better.  Numbers 3-10 can be worked on by anyone, anywhere, who has a phone or Internet access -- so reach out to friends near, and far, to help in your search.

#5  Veterinarians 

#6  Social Media/E-mail

If someone found your dog, they might call police.  As important, police on patrol may see your dog.

Call area veterinarians.  A good samaritan may have taken your dog to an animal hospital -- whether or not they were injured. 

Samoyed owners are urged to quickly post the news  of a lost Samoyed in the following Facebook groups:

  1. (friends of) Potomac Valley Samoyed Club

  1. Planet Samoyed

And obviously one should swiftly contact personal acquaintances (especially neighbors) via Facebook, Twitter, other social media, e-mail.  These are all effective “force multipliers.”
Humane Society of the U.S.:  How to find your lost pet
Lost Pet Professionals (private investigator Karin TarQwyn)
Fido-Finder:  How to find your lost dog   ☆ ☆ ☆
Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Washington Humane Society

Other Resources

Wilde About Dogs

#7  Craigslist 

Check Craigslist for “found dogs” ads.  Many shelters post ads of the lost dogs in their custody.  And place your own lost dog ad.  It is free.

#8 Update Microchip

If your dog is microchipped, contact the microchip company to report your dog missing and update your contact information.    


Via website or call 1-888-PETS911   The #1 database for lost and found pets.

#4  Police

“Posting "Lost Dog" posters for your dog increases the chances of his return by over 200%.   Someone in your neighborhood saw your dog, had your dog, or currently has your dog.”  

                     - Fido Finder

#10  Hire some help  

There may be a for-hire professional tracker in your area (who may use their own trained dogs in the search) or a non-profit tracking service (such as Dogs Finding Dogs).  You may also need/want to hire some kids in the neighborhood to help with the laborious process of putting up signs.  Pay them by the block or some other arrangement.  Many people also advocate consulting a psychic -- don’t scoff, if your dog is missing you may want to try everything.   

Hill Hounds (list-serve & website -- Capitol Hill)
DC-area Lost & Found Dogs   (Facebook)
CRAIGSLIST:   D.C. area Lost & Found

D.C. Social Media

Virginia Social Media

Maryland Social Media

DC-area Lost & Found Dogs   (Facebook)
DC-area Lost & Found Dogs  (Facebook)
CRAIGSLIST:   D.C. area Lost & Found
CRAIGSLIST:   D.C. area Lost & Found
DC/MD/VA animal control  & shelter contacts
( click here )

#1  Search  

You need to quickly canvas the neighborhood - on foot and by car.  Draw a circle one mile out in each direction (extend the distance with time elapsed).  Carry a leash!  Urban and rural searches have different challenges.  In either case it is good to carry a whistle and perhaps a squeaky toy or some other noisemaker that may attract your dog.

  1. This effort to help dogs and their families is dedicated to Kaiya and Sesi. 

  2. They were two beautiful  and beloved Samoyeds -- mother and daughter --

  3. whose plight inspired this page and whose spirit mobilized a community.     

Prevention:  Before they go missing...
Improve their odds of being found

(click here)
Dogs Finding Dogs - 501(c) serving MD-VA-DC-PA-DE

PHONE APP:  Finding Rover