PATERSON - Animal control officers say the persistent cold and snow has caused an increase in the number of lost dogs.

Nicholas Diaz was lucky to be reunited with his German Shepherd after she got away from the house Saturday and didn't come home. 

"I went out and left the door open and she went with me," he says. "And then she just disappeared. I tried to look for her all around."

John DeCando, of Paterson Animal Control, says they've been extra busy lately picking up lost dogs and that the weather is largely to blame.

"Because of the snow, the dogs get out, and lose their sense of how to get home," says DeCando. "And my guys end up catching them."

The ASPCA says more dogs get lost during the winter than any other season. Many picked up in Paterson don't even have ID tags.

Authorities say one of the best ways to keep track of your dog is to have a chip implanted in the back of its neck.  But you need to make sure it's registered with the company.

If a dog with a chip comes in, officers can find the owner. "We'll call the company and it will tell us who owns this chip," says DeCando. "But if you don't register it, this chip is worthless."

Officials recommend keeping your dog on its leash whenever there is snow or ice on the ground.

If your pet gets lost, you can call Amber Alert for Pets, which will contact pounds and vet offices in your area.

For an extended interview with John DeCando, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.