This time of year is one of the most dangerous for pets to go missing.
It's estimated 60 percent of the dogs in shelters are lost pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
So what should you do to improve the odds of finding your dog or cat if they run away?
"He was just this amazing dog that wanted to be useful,” said Stacey Medina. "He was just a great dog, he was really fun to be around."
Medina and her husband adopted ‘Chief’ when he was a pup, and at 14, he still had that puppy mentality.
But just before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, in a single moment he was gone.
"The little dog decided to come in early, so I brought her in, turned around to wipe off her feet and when I turned back around, Chief was gone,” Medina said.
She did everything she could think of to find him, and she knew time was of the essence.
"It was pure terror. He had not been out of the house or out of the yard on his own since the first year we brought him home,” Medina said.
Susan Taney is the director of Lost Dogs Illinois, an online resource for owners to find their pets.
"I think people assume their dogs are going to come back and then they wait too long before posting on lost dogs Illinois and getting all the resources to find out what to do,” she said.
Lost Dogs Illinois put together a checklist for owners. First, set up a home base.
"You want to put a blanket out or a bed, food and water, because many times dogs (come back) to where they went missing,” Taney said.
Also post signs and hand out flyers immediately with a photo of the animal, and laminate or place the flyer in a plastic bag to withstand the elements.
"Post ads like on Craigslist, Next door and other neighborhood Facebook Pages,” Taney said.
It's also important to notify animal shelters and rescue groups in your area.
The Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page has templates for flyers and a list of shelters that could be holding your pet.
Chief was found, but it was too late.
"A couple was taking photos down by the river and the young woman looked down and saw him in the water,” Medina said. "She knew and had seen the signs and knew that we were looking for him and so she got in her car, drove to the nearest corner, found the sign and called me."
In Chief's memory, Medina wants all families to have a plan of action so they don't feel lost when their pet goes missing.
"We know that our pups may have died but they're sending a message out there to others and they're helping others come home,” she said.
Taney says since the inception of Lost Dogs Illinois eight years ago, over 30,000 dogs have been returned to their owners.
The group hosts pet fairs throughout the year with free microchipping and tags.