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Lost Your Dog in a National Park? Here’s What to Do

While many national parks aren’t that pet-friendly, some have at least a few places to bring your dog. However, sometimes things go wrong, and a pet escapes into the vast wilderness that national parks protect. So, what do you do about a lost dog in a national park? It depends.

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Recently, Big Bend National Park shared a post after finding a loose dog in the massive Texas park.

In this case, many in the comments speculated the owners may have abandoned the dog. Fortunately, after a few days of not hearing from anyone, the park turned the dog over to a local shelter, where a family was ready to adopt the canine.

The park wrote in response, “Your incredible support has ensured a happy ending for this furry explorer! Thank you for all your support.”

This case is just one incident where a dog ends up alone in a park, so what happens if you’re the owner trying to find your lost pet?

Outdoors.com reached out to the National Park Service, and they had this to say: 

“On a national level, we do not have a lost pet standard of practice, but rather rely on parks to work through their processes to find the pet.”

They did mention plenty of success stories, including ones covered by Outdoors.com. In one recent case, a dog fell off a cliff at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A rescue team managed to find the pup safely hours later. 

dog survives 60 foot fall
A lost dog in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. (Source: NPS)

In short, if your pet is lost, you should contact park officials. 

The National Park Service says anyone bringing a pet to a national park site should plan ahead, mainly as some parks have limited space for pets, and dogs are often not allowed on trails and in other areas. These rules are in place to protect dogs from “hazards, rough terrain, rapids, or wildlife, and/or protect sensitive natural or cultural areas in the park.”

Check out the official NPS pet page for more guidelines on bringing your pet to a national park.

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