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“I’ve lost my dog. What do I do?”

When Alison McBratney’s Belgian Shepherd startled at a distant gunshot and took off into the heavily wooden bush near her cottage in North Frontenac, her first reaction was amazement.

After all, Billie was a toothless, anxious 12-year-old Alison described as a “Velcro puppy.” But as the minutes ticked by and Billie didn’t return, her bemusement turned to fear. Her beloved dog was nowhere to be found. She stayed lost for another four days.

 “Our fear was that because she’s black and looks like a coyote, she could be mistaken for a wild animal by hunters.”

It’s a legitimate fear, as autumn leaves attract plenty of hikers and dog walkers to gorgeously coloured trails. And while off-leash may seem fun for the dog, without strong recall skills, a sudden noise or sight of a squirrel could lead to problems if your dog bolts.

According to, most dogs are found within a few kilometres of home because they won’t run in a straight line for long. Knowing that, Alison and her husband Stephen came up with a plan. (See below for Alison’s check list.)

Since Billie wasn’t microchipped at the time and her ID tag had fallen off a few weeks earlier, the McBratney’s enlisted the help of friends, neighbours, local authorities, and the internet.

In the end, Billie was found by an elderly neighbour five kilometres from the McBratney cottage. The neighbour, Brenda Thomas, had left her radio playing around the clock, as her daughter had told her lost dogs will go towards human voices.

“Brenda went to put her cat out in the morning and saw Billie running down the road towards her – and in the direction of our cottage,” Alison said. “It might have been the radio that did the trick, but Brenda also asked her deceased husband to ‘send Billie her way.’ However it happened, we’re relieved to have her back.”

Billie was unscathed by her adventure, and with some dog food Brenda had purchased the day before on a hunch, she was reunited with her family.

Woman walking dog in forest
CAA North & East Ontario

What to do if you lose your dog

  • Immediately post an image and description of your pet on Facebook’s ‘lost pets’ pages. Search for pages that target the area you are in.
  • Put your post up on your personal social media pages. It can add thousands of people to your search party.
  • If possible, create a flyer and distributed it to the local police, road construction crews, bylaw officials, nearby gas stations, community mailboxes and even the local library.
  • Drop by the local post office – delivery employees who cover the routes around the search area may see something.
  • Don’t give up hope after 24 hours. Dogs have greater survival skills than we might think.
  • Check local shelters and humane societies regularly, particularly if your pet is not tagged or microchipped.
  • Check on local parks or places where people gather, especially if your dog is outgoing and gravitates towards people.
person who lost their dog
CAA North & East Ontario

What to do when you find your dog

  • Visit your vet to check for ticks, gastrointestinal issues and other things the dog might have encountered on their adventure.
  • If you haven’t already, have your dog vaccinated for Lyme Disease, heart worm and other preventative measures.
  • Have your dog microchipped. If a tag falls off and your dog is found, humane societies and shelters will check for a microchip. Consider getting a GPS tracker from Tractive or Tile for their collar, too.
CAA North & East Ontario

What to do to prevent losing your dog

  • Your floofy friend may be very obedient at home, but it’s critical that they are responsive to you in all situations. Dog training basics, starting from puppy pre-school, can not only help socialise but train your dog to respond to your directions.
  • Invest in pet insurance to help ensure you and your pet are covered should any issues arise. For example, all Pets Plus Us insurance plans come with Additional Benefits, including lost pet advertising and reward, which can help reimburse the costs of advertising and reward money if your pet is lost*. CAA offers Members 12% off pet insurance with insurance partner Pets Plus Us1. For more information or to get a quote, visit us online at ca or call 1-833-323-2456

1 CAA Members receive a preferred rate of 12% off. Non-members receive a preferred rate of 7% off.

*The information herein is summarized. All Pet Insurance plans have limitations and exclusions. Specific products, features, coverage limits, rates, and discounts may vary by province, eligibility, and are subject to change. Medical Conditions that are noted, symptomatic or diagnosed prior to enrollment, or during a waiting period are pre-existing to Coverage and not eligible for reimbursement. This advertisement is an outline only, the actual policy issued Terms and Conditions will prevail.


© 2022 All rights reserved. Pets Plus Us Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Northbridge General Insurance Corporation, distributed by PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. & Société d’Assurances Collectives (Sodaco) Inc. in Quebec. Pets Plus Us Pet Insurance is available in all provinces and territories. Pets Plus Us®, Pets Plus Us & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd.

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