What to do if you find a lost dog at the dog park

There was an incident at the park (Magnuson Off-Leash Park) today I wanted to share with everyone so that hopefully it will be handled differently in the future. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who frequents the park. This afternoon, a dogwalker came in with her pack of dogs and was picking up after them while they meandered around the grassy hill by the small dog park. Minutes go by and she realizes one of her dogs is missing. He obviously couldn't have gone far in the couple minutes it took her to pick up some poop. She walks around the park looking for the dog and asking all the other dogwalkers if they had seen the dog. While she is looking for the dog she comes across someone who says they had just talked to a woman who found a dog and called all the numbers on his tags and since nobody responded she was going to take the dog back to her daycare. She didn't ask any other dogwalkers if they knew of the dog or anyone missing a dog, she just left with the dog that was not hers. This should have never happened.

One of the best things about Magnuson park is the community of dogwalkers. For the most part, we all know each other and know each others dogs. If there is ever a dog missing, most likely one of us will either recognize the dog and know who it belongs to, or start spreading the word to all the other walkers to keep an eye out. I have told a dogwalker down at the water that I was looking for a dog, and somehow the next 4 dogwalkers I passed on the way back up to the field asked if I had found the dog yet. How did they know already? I don't know, but between passing one other, calling and texting we can play a pretty damn efficient game of telephone when we need to.

A note about "lost" dogs. When they're at the dog park, they usually aren't lost. It's easy for dogs to get turned around with all the excitement going on and then all of a sudden they don't know which direction their human went. One second they are walking with you, the next someone drops a treat they have to investigate, then a squeaky ball conveniently rolls their way, then another human tries to take it back, and then where is their human??!!? Things happen. The important part is that we work together and help each other when these things do happen. Sure, there are the rare times when someone intentionally leaves their dog at the park, or when who knows what else, but here are some simple steps to help you determine the best way to get this pup back to their human.

1. Ask a dogwalker! There's a good chance we will recognize the dog, and if not, we will get that massive game of telephone started. There's a chance their human is just on the other side of a mound picking up poop and is out of sight but not out of hearing range.

Also, there are dogwalkers at the park most hours of the day, so if one dogwalker is watching the "lost" dog and has to leave, they can pass the dog off to another dogwalker who is still there to keep an eye out for their human and continue the search process. Dogs are in good hands with dogwalkers.

2. Stay close to the front gates. Anyone looking for a dog will want to make sure the dog doesn't leave with someone else, and anyone that forgot their dog (?!?!) will be running back.

3. Follow the dog, but don't leash them. They may be trying to wander back to their human.

4. After asking around, call the information on the tags. No tags or no luck? You can take them to the closest vet and see if they have a microchip with contact info.

5. If all else fails, call Animal Control to have them picked up. They will be taken to Seatlle Animal Shelter where they were will in good care, and anyone who is missing a dog will know to look for them there. *Do not* take the dog to your house, nobody will know to find your dog at their house!

Whether a dog is lost, taking a self guided tour of the park, or trying to escape from their human who is horrible enough to make them leave the park, that dog came there with a human and should leave with that same human. We have a wonderful community at the park, of dogwalkers, park patrons, and of course dogs, and this is one of those times where we should take advantage of it. Let's help each other out and keep the pups safe and sound!

Posted on April 6, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.