What should you do if your dog goes missing?

NOW: What should you do if your dog goes missing?

(CBS 58) -- "There's so many people out there to do something for two dogs they had never met. A stranger they had never known before any of this," said dog owner, Agnes Leider.

Around 3,000 dogs are reported missing in Wisconsin each year, a majority of them are reunited, but sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years. Often times, the reunion doesn't happen without the public.

When a person is missing, you can contact police and an alert can be sent out, but do you know what steps should you take once your dog goes missing?

Jodie Hoffman-Ruffalo is with Woof Gang rescue, an expert in dog behavior says there are important steps an owner should take.

She explains the first steps to take if your dog is nowhere to be seen.

If you spot the dog, Hoffman-Ruffalo says the most important thing to remember is not to call or chase the dog. Hoffman-Ruffalo explains why, "The dog can end up getting hit by a car because it's so freaked out... dogs want to please us. If they feel the pressure that you're upset with them, they're not going to want to come back to you... they can get pushed further into danger."

If you see your dog as it's running away or spot it, try not to lose sight of your dog and try these steps:

Jodie Hoffman-Ruffalo also gives her best advice to prevent a dog from going missing.

She advises every dog owner to seek help.

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, a statewide group also helps owners find their missing pups. Last year they reunited over 3,000 dogs with their families. In Racine County, a group called Billy's Posse is doing the same thing.

"Every dog is an intelligent individual and the moment you forget that you've lost your whole game because there is no study, or every dog's going to do this kind of behavior," said Hoffman-Ruffalo.

At first, Agnes Leider didn't know what do to.

"I feel often times I'm just living the same day over and over again," said Leider.

Two of Agnes Leider's family members went missing over a year ago from her Sheboygan county home.

Red and Millie are both lab retrievers. Millie's a black lab. She would be 8 years old, and Red is her daughter and she's 6 and a half years old. She would be anyways," said Leider.

Leider, Red and Millie's owner let them out after work. Not more than 15 minutes passed and they were gone.

Weeks, months and now a year has passed.

"The first thing I think when I wake up is, 'I wonder where they are. Are they okay? What happened to them?' As the day goes on it's the same series of questions that just keep playing over and over and over again," said Agnes.

She started a Facebook page to find her dogs called: Finding Red and Millie, and that’s when others started pitching in. After seeing the page, people who had never met Agnes, Red, or Millie scoured fields, handed out flyers and passed out Halloween candy with Red and Millie's pictures on it.

Kristin Wilson is part of the dog searching group Billy's Posse based out of Racine. It’s named after the first lost dog the group reunited with their owner. Rescuers were able to safely trap Billy and return him home. Trapping is a common practice for scared dogs on the run.

"It's a pretty fresh print because it hasn't been rounded over and messed up by weather," said Wilson.

We joined her on a rural Racine County trail, tagging along while she tracked a missing pair of German Shepherds named Mac and Nina. Someone called in a sighting to the rescue group, so we went to check for fresh paw prints and a trail camera was set up. After 24 hours, nothing went by. 

Sky Drone 58 footage shows just how many places there are to hide at the location the dogs were possibly sighted. 

"We still have all of these tracks here, so I'm not going to move it. I'm going to keep it here and see if we get something if they come back," Kristin said. 

Even though she's never met these dogs, you can tell how much she cares. 

"I have a dog and, my God, if something were to happen to her, if for whatever reason she went missing, I could not sleep," Kristin said. "And I can't just let someone sit there and feel alone."

Agnes Leider has followed up on hundreds of sightings of her dogs in the last year. While each one has come up empty handed, she hasn't let go of one thing. 

"Always hang on to hope," said Leider. "I'm still journeying through. I'm going to do whatever it takes."

You can join the search for Red and Millie at: https://www.facebook.com/findingredandmillie/

You can help bring Mac and Nina home by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/NinaAndMac/

You can contact Billy's Posse on their website: https://billysposse.wordpress.com/

You can find more information on Lost Dogs of Wisconsin on their website: https://lostdogsofwisconsin.org/

Share this article: