Probably the most comprehensive article on finding a lost pet we have ever seen. Way to go BARK!
Check out this recovery checklist from The Bark magazine, Summer 2011 issue 65:
Don’t kid yourself that your well-adjusted pup would never bolt. There are always extreme circumstances — such as fires or intruders — that could prove you wrong. Seriously improve your dog’s odds by taking these proactive steps:
Always collar and tag and microchip your dog. A chip alone isn’t enough. Dogs found without collars can be “adopted” by strangers who assume they’re strays.
If your dog is shy or skittish, add a tag with “I’m afraid, not abused” to her collar. Strangers may assume a cowering dog has been mistreated and deliberately not return her. <-- this is SO IMPORTANT!
Travel safely. Use a non-slip collar (such as a Martingale) to prevent your surprised or frightened dog from slipping free. In the car, crate your dog so she doesn’t escape if there’s an accident.
Have current photos of your pet. If your dog looks very different before and after grooming, have shots of each. See if your vet will attach a photo to your dog’s file in the event she escapes during a house fire or flood in which your personal records are destroyed.
Be prepared. Create large, neon pet posters and keep them at hand to reduce delays if your dog disappears.
Have proof of ownership. There’s no guarantee that the person who finds your dog will give her back. A microchip is the best proof of ownership.
Be neighborly. Introduce yourself and your dog to the neighbors; this makes it more likely they will let you know if they see your dog running loose. If your dog frequently roams, barks or annoys them, they may not be so quick to alert you to a sighting.
Secure your property. Make sure fences are high enough to keep in jumpers and deep enough to foil diggers, and keep an eye out for potential launching pads, such as lawn furniture.
Train your dog not to bolt through open gates and doors. Work through behavioral issues such as digging or not coming when called.
Collect and store scent and DNA. Should you need to hire a pet-detection dog, a distinct scent sample from your missing pet is essential, especially if you have more than one animal in your home. (Ideally, you’ll never need it.) Wearing sterile gloves, wipe a gauze pad over your dog’s back, belly and mouth. Store in a zip-type bag in the freezer. A few plucked hairs (including the root) and nail clippings stored in another bag can be useful in the unfortunate event remains are found. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis (vgl.ucdavis.edu) can test the DNA and tell you if it’s from your pet.
Adapted from Missing Pet Partnership’s recovery tips. Find out more at missingpetpartnership.org.