While there are no official statistics for the number of dogs that are lost or stolen in and around Nairobi, dog lovers and their owners are all too aware how frequently they go missing.
Dogs are a valuable commodity that can be used in puppy mills if they are unsterilised or sold on by unscrupulous people for profit. Sometimes, it might even be a reward offered for returning your pet that dog nappers want.
It’s just as likely your dog could have run off while on a walk or escaped from your not-so secure compound.
Here are a few steps you can take to prevent them being lost in the first place – and to increase the chances of them being returned if they do:
- Get an ID tag for your dog which has your phone number and your name or address on it. Some people advise against putting the dog’s name on a tag because a stranger could then call your dog to them. (Valley Creations: 0722 312 600/0722 909 000 make sturdy dog tags.)
- Get your pet microchipped. The microchip is the size of an uncooked grain of rice and is implanted, by a vet, under the loose skin of the dog’s neck. Most dogs don’t even notice being microchipped. You can then add your pet’s unique number along with your details to the database at www.eastafricakennelclub.com. NB. If you intend to travel internationally with your pet, then microchipping is a legal requirement, so you might as well get it done now.
- Get your pet sterilised. This will reduce the ‘value’ of your dog to anyone who might want to breed from your pet. Make sure that everyone on your compound understands that your dog has had surgery to stop it having puppies.
- Make sure your enclosure is secure. Dogs can squeeze or dig their way through gaps in the fence – so check the whole perimeter of your compound is secure on a weekly – or even daily basis. Rains and wear and tear (or even dog thieves) can create holes in a fence areas. Leaving your dog outside when you are not at home also increases the likelihood of your dog escaping or being stolen.
- Keep your pets away from the main gate when it’s being used. Dogs manage to escape or run into roads when the gates are open – especially if something interesting (like another dog or cat) is on the other side. Remind your staff to be extra vigilant and ensure that dogs are away from the gate, or under control when the gate is in use. This is especially true for newly adopted or rescued dogs.
- Don’t ignore your dog barking. If your dog is barking for no known reason, check it out. It could be because there’s a stranger nearby who is interested in taking your dog.
- Keep your dog on a leash when on walks.Always make sure you can see your dog when out and about. Unless your dog has excellent recall, then keep it on a leash. Sometimes even a well-trained dog could run after another dog or animal. If you have just adopted a dog, it is essential you keep it on a leash for the first few months, until you are confident it will not run off.
- Avoid bragging about your dog. Of course, you love your dog, but telling people how valuable it is, or how much you love it, only increases its value in the eyes of an unscrupulous person.
- Always have an up to date photo of your dog. A photograph that clearly shows identifying marks and size of your dog will help people identify he’s yours if they spot him in the neighbourhood. You can then use this photo to make flyers to post locally and on Facebook.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG GOES MISSING
- Immediately let the local askaris and staff in the neighbourhood know that your dog is missing. Show them pictures of your dog.
- Make flyers with your dog’s photo and include any discerning marks or details about its size, along with your contact details.
- Post the flyers up in the surrounding areas and hand them out to local guard companies, as they may spot your dog while out on patrol.
- Social media, especially Facebook, is a good forum for lost dogs. Post your flyer to one of the dog lover/lost dog forums and make it public so that people can share the information.
- Notify the KSPCA, EAKC and any vets in your neighbourhood and give them flyers to post on their noticeboards.