Few things are as terrifying as finding your beloved pug has gone AWOL. It’s scary with any dog but pugs somehow seem so small, so dependent and vulnerable. They’re trusting and friendly by nature, and not exactly known for either traffic sense or sense of direction. If all goes well, your pug will never go missing, but there are things you can do to both minimize the chances that your pug will disappear and maximize the odds of getting him back safe and sound if he does.
First, have your pug microchipped. Any vet will do it, some clinics and shelters even offer discounts or specials. Inserting the chip is painless – the chip is about the size of a half-grain of rice and is popped under the skin of the shoulders with a syringe. Most dogs don’t even notice the procedure (especially if there’s a cookie or bit of peanut butter handy.) Once in place, the chip will remain with the dog for life and, unlike collars and tags, cannot be casually or accidentally removed. Nearly every shelter in the U.S., as well as most veterinary clinics and offices have a scanner and will automatically check any incoming dog for a chip. You, the owner, register the chip with the company that made it (most chips in the U.S. are made by AVID (www.avidid.com) or HomeAgain (http://public.homeagain.com) so if your pet is found, the company will be notified and can let you know where to retrieve him.
Even if your pug is chipped, you’ll want to have a collar or harness on him at all times with an ID tag. At the very least, it should say “If found call 614-xxx-xxxx, using a number where you can be reached most, if not all, of the time. Most private citizens don’t have scanners for chips, but they do have phones and if they see an ID tag, most will at least try to find you before taking the animal to a shelter, pound or rescue.
Okay, your pug is missing, what do you do now? First – breathe!! It’s natural to want to panic, but no bad situation has ever been improved by having a melt down and you want to help your dog as soon as possible. Next, call the local shelters. Here in Columbus, that would be the Franklin County Shelter at 614-525-4361 (www.franklincountyohio.gov/commissioners/ancl/) and the Capital Area Humane Society at 614-777-7387 (www.cahs-pets.org). You will want to visit both shelters daily until you find your dog, but for right now, just notifying them of a missing pug will help them keep an eye out for incoming pugs that might be yours. Contact Ohio Pug Rescue (www.ohiopugrescue.com) by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, so they’ll have a description in case someone calls to surrender a stray “found” pug to the rescue. While you’re online, sign into www.petfbi.com and post a lost dog listing. It’s free, and a lot of people check there first if they find an animal in the central Ohio area. Then, contact all veterinary offices and clinics within a mile or two of where the pug was last seen and ask them to watch for anyone bringing in a lost, injured or “new” dog matching your pug’s description.
The next step is to make up some “Lost Dog” fliers to post around the neighborhood. Keep a recent picture of your pug on hand and put it on the flier, along with a description of the dog, the place he was last seen, and your contact information. Offer a reward of at least $30 if you can – you want to make it more profitable to return your pet than to sell it as a lab test subject or bait dog for fighting. Hang these around your neighborhood wherever they’re allowed (and be sure to remember to remove them once your dog is home.) Give one to your postal carrier – they tend to be very aware of dogs along their route – and put one up at any local pizza places that deliver.
Until your dog is safely back home, you’ll want to physically go to and check the shelters. Shelter workers are good-hearted people doing a difficult job, but not all of them are familiar with all breeds, so asking if a pug has come in may or may not get an accurate response. Go look and be sure. The Franklin County shelter is a 1731 Alum Creek Drive in Columbus, and the Capital Area Humane Society shelter is at 3015 Scioto-Darby Executive Court in Hilliard.
Unfortunately, there are some missing dogs that never come home, either because someone takes them in and never returns them, or because they fall victim to traffic, larger animals or other hazards. However, if you take all the steps listed here and make sure your pet has ID at all times, you’ve seriously increased the odds that you’ll get your friend back, happy and unharmed, in short order.