Finding Your Lost Greyhound
by Michael McCann
HHGA numbers to call: Irene Comer (918) 760-5388 and Teddy Palmer
Okay, you've lost him. He slipped his collar, or ran out of the open
gate; he was spooked by lightning and jumped the back fence; you dropped
the leash, or you let him run off lead, he saw a squirrel and suddenly
he was gone. How he was lost doesn't really matter now: what matters are
the steps you have to take to get him back. He's out there and he's
depending on you to find him. He's lost and can't find his way home.
It's been a couple of hours now: you've scoured the neighborhood, and
you are hoping to see him in every yard and around every corner. But,
you are beginning to realize that you can't find him. Here's what you
have to do:
Change your mindset: This is most important and most
difficult step. You have to stop checking every street and back yard
yourself, and start recruiting an army to do it for you. Most greyhounds
are found within a mile or two of where they were lost, but a two mile
radius is nearly 13 square miles, an impossible area to search
adequately alone. You have to stop looking for your dog, and start
looking for people. Everything that follows depends on it. With every
hour that goes by, your chances of finding your dog, on your own,
diminish. You now have to find someone who has seen your dog. You need a
sighting and in order to get a sighting, you need help! Ask everyone you
know, including your friends, co-workers, adoption group, and son's cub
scout pack to help you. Don't wait until tomorrow, do it now.
Webmaster's note: PLEASE call both Teddy and Irene as soon as you
realize your greyhound is lost - HHGA has volunteers that have
experience looking for lost greyhounds and will help you look for your
Get the word out: Whether you have help or not, you've got
to get the word out about your lost dog. You and your volunteers are
going to search, yes, but while you're searching, you're going to post
flyers on every available telephone pole, in every supermarket, drug
store, school, church, police stations, vets' office or any other public
place surrounding the area. Ninety percent of lost dogs who are found,
are found because someone saw a flyer. The flyers don't have to be
fancy, but get them printed on the brightest, most fluorescent paper
available. "LOST GREYHOUND" In big letters. "If sighted, please call
(555) 555-5555" and a silhouette of a running greyhound works great as
an attention grabber. 500 of them is a good start, but you may need
more. The area should be so saturated with flyers that you can't turn
around without seeing one. Don't expand your search area until you've
totally covered the area where he was last seen.
Knock on doors and talk to everyone you see; the mail person, the
UPS driver, the local landscaper. Any of these people may see your dog,
and if they do, now they won't just think it's some dog on his way home,
they'll know he's lost. Give everyone you talk to a flyer.
Schools are a great resource for search help. Ask the principal
to make announcements about the lost dog and leave flyers to pass out
and post on bulletin boards. Kids see everything in the neighborhood but
will ignore dogs running around unless asked to look. If you hand one
kid a flyer, five more will have seen it by the end of the day. Don't
ignore the little kids either. They tell their folks everything.
Call every veterinarian's office, animal control officer, and
police department within two or three miles from where he was last seen.
In rural areas, expand your calling to every nearby town. Follow up with
a flyer or several. Faxing them will save you some time but it is
important that they see you, rather than just a piece of paper. If you
show people how concerned you are, they'll want to help you. Don't just
call them once; call them every few days and in the case of the police,
during every shift, to make sure everyone knows about your dog.
Run newspaper ads in the local papers, and while you're at it,
talk to a reporter and see if she'll run a local interest story on the
lost greyhound. Local cable access stations often will run your lost dog
ad for free and local radio stations and TV stations will often run the
story on a slow news night.
Check your local animal shelters every few days, in person. It is
amazing how many folks who work in these places don't know dog breeds.
Your greyhound could be hanging out at a local shelter, up for adoption,
because they think he's a whippet or a Doberman mix.
Get in touch with your local Department of Public Works, or
Highway Department. Sadly, they often will pick up an animal's body from
the road, and if there is no identification, the owner will never know.
Collars often fall off when a dog is loose or struck by a car.
Tools you'll need: Print some maps of your area to give to
the volunteers. Make notations of areas that have been well posted. Set
up grids and utilize them to cover all the locations in your search
area. Send teams to each grid area. Get some heavy duty staple guns and
use those for putting up your flyers on telephone poles and clear
packing tape for other hard surfaces (Don't use duct tape; it looks
messy and some localities bristle at having these flyers posted; you
want the locals helping you, not trying to shut your search down). If
available, try to keep in touch with your teams with cell phones or
walkie-talkie so that when you get a sighting, you can have them go
immediately to the sight.
Make sure that there is always someone available at the phone number you
posted. You don't want people to call with a sighting, and then hang up
because they got a message service.
Don't assume anything: Don't assume your dog has been
picked up, it's the trap that everyone seems to fall into: "No sighting,
someone must have picked up my dog!" Greyhounds are notorious for
disappearing in the woodwork. A person can walk right by a brindle
greyhound lying in a pile of leaves and never even see him. Some go for
months or even years without being found, because people assume they
have been picked up or are dead.
Don't assume that the call you got about a dog five miles away is yours.
Follow it up, yes, but when you start getting calls about dogs, ask
questions: What color was the dog you saw? How big? Which way was it
heading? What time and on what day did you see him? Have you ever seen
him before? You don't want to be running out of your search area just to
find that someone called you about a beagle they saw running through the
yard. These false leads are actually a positive sign, they mean your
efforts are working; people are looking out for your dog. It's just that
they don't know the difference between a greyhound and a Jack Russell
Don't lose hope: A few days or a week of searching can be
discouraging. A lack of sightings or no word at all can be tough on a
positive attitude. Just remember, your hound is still out there, and
someone has seen him. All you have to do is to find that person. It's
only natural to start thinking the worst. But, as non-street savvy as
greyhounds are, they are survivors. Keep looking. Don't give up; your
grey is counting on you.
Other comments added to this article:
A NOTE ABOUT REWARDS: Lost greyhounds, especially shy
ones, are extremely difficult to catch. Your goal should be to encourage
people who see the dog call you with the sighting. Once the sightings
have established where the dog is hanging out, and then set up feeding
stations for her. Then, you can set up a humane trap for the
In our experience, rewards often work against getting sightings. What
happens is that you will increase the numbers of people looking for the
dog, yes, but the new people tend to be bounty hunters; teenagers, or
"cowboys", who just think of the money, not the safety of the animal.
Often, when they see the dog, the first thing they do is chase, and
sometimes they chase the dog right out the safety of the territory
the dog has felt comfortable in. These people rarely call in sightings,
because they want to cash in.
We suggest that the wording of that flyer should be something like:
"LOST GREYHOUND, IF SIGHTED, PLEASE CALL (555) 555-5555, PLEASE, DO NOT
CHASE HER". We never even mention a reward. We feel that if someone does
catch the dog, and asks for a reward, we can still pay it, but we don't
ask for trouble by offering money in advance.
Would you rather have a hundred sympathetic animal lovers helping you
look for your dog, or a couple of hundred clueless bounty hunters trying
to cash in on her? We'll go with the animal lovers, every time.