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Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost dog

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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.
  • | 3 School of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.
  • | 4 National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, 165 Food Safety and Toxicology Building, East Lansing, MI 48824-1302.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the process by which owners search for lost dogs and identify factors associated with time to recovery.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—Owners of 187 dogs lost in Montgomery County, Ohio, between June 1 and September 30, 2005.

Procedures—A telephone survey was conducted.

Results—132 of the 187 (71%) dogs were recovered; median time to recovery was 2 days (range, 0.5 to 21 days). Dogs were recovered primarily through a call or visit to an animal agency (46 [34.8%]), a dog license tag (24 [18.2%]), and posting of neighborhood signs (20 [15.2%]). Eighty-nine (48%) dogs had some type of identification at the time they were lost (ie, identification tag, dog license tag, rabies tag, or microchip). Owners had a higher likelihood of recovery when they called an animal agency (hazard ratio, 2.1), visited an animal agency (1.8), and posted neighborhood signs. Dogs that were wearing a dog license tag also had a higher likelihood of recovery (hazard ratio, 1.6). Owners were less likely to recover their dogs if they believed their dogs were stolen (hazard ratio, 0.3).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that various factors are associated with the likelihood that owners will recover a lost dog. Both animal agencies and veterinarians can play a role in educating dog owners on the importance of identification tags, licensing, and microchips and can help to emphasize the importance of having a search plan in case a dog is lost.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the process by which owners search for lost dogs and identify factors associated with time to recovery.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—Owners of 187 dogs lost in Montgomery County, Ohio, between June 1 and September 30, 2005.

Procedures—A telephone survey was conducted.

Results—132 of the 187 (71%) dogs were recovered; median time to recovery was 2 days (range, 0.5 to 21 days). Dogs were recovered primarily through a call or visit to an animal agency (46 [34.8%]), a dog license tag (24 [18.2%]), and posting of neighborhood signs (20 [15.2%]). Eighty-nine (48%) dogs had some type of identification at the time they were lost (ie, identification tag, dog license tag, rabies tag, or microchip). Owners had a higher likelihood of recovery when they called an animal agency (hazard ratio, 2.1), visited an animal agency (1.8), and posted neighborhood signs. Dogs that were wearing a dog license tag also had a higher likelihood of recovery (hazard ratio, 1.6). Owners were less likely to recover their dogs if they believed their dogs were stolen (hazard ratio, 0.3).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that various factors are associated with the likelihood that owners will recover a lost dog. Both animal agencies and veterinarians can play a role in educating dog owners on the importance of identification tags, licensing, and microchips and can help to emphasize the importance of having a search plan in case a dog is lost.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust.

Presented in part at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases Annual Meeting, St Louis, December 2005.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lord.