There is no time to waste if you have lost your pet. Begin your search immediately and keep searching. Don’t give up! Persistence is often the key to finding a lost pet. Some animals have been found after months of being missing.
- Ask everyone: neighbors, children, mail carriers, people walking, riding bikes, skate boarding – everyone. Have a recent photo of your pet to show them. Even if they haven’t seen your pet, they will know what to watch for.
- If you suspect that your pet was stolen, report it to the police immediately. Provide any information you have, who you suspect or witnesses that may provide details that could get your pet back home. The police may also know of an animal fitting your pet’s description that was picked up and taken to a shelter; hit by a car, etc.
- If your pet is registered with a lost-pet network organization, call them right away.
- Utilize social media. Put up a photo and brief description of your pet; location where s/he was last seen and best way to contact you.
- Create a flyer with a recent photo of your pet, a brief description and your phone number. If you can, consider offering a reward for your pet’s safe return. A free, easy-to-use flyer-maker program is available at www.petbond.com. To garner extra attention, paste the fliers to fluorescent poster board and write ‘LOST PET” in large, black letters at top.
- Distribute the flyers and post them on telephone poles in the area where you lost your pet or your pet was last seen, as well as in your neighborhood, as animals often find their way back to their home neighborhood. Put flyers up on bulletin boards at supermarkets, pet supply stores, health clubs – as many places as possible to get the word out.
Note: Make sure you are not only posting “lost pet” flyers, but also checking any “found” or “for adoption” flyers you come across. Somebody may have found your pet and is also putting up fliers to get her/him back home.
- Put an ad in the “lost pet” section of the local newspapers. Title the ad “Lost Cat” or “Lost Dog” and include your phone number, the date the animal was lost, the last known location and a brief description containing the animal’s name, breed, color, sex, age, and whether your dog was wearing a collar. (Note: If you’re offering a reward, you may want to leave out one detail about your animal to avoid potential scam artists.)
- Go to all the shelters in the area and those in nearby cities/towns/counties. Do not just call them. Provide them with a color photo of your pet with your name and phone number on it. Ask to see all the animals in the shelter and make sure you see all the animals.
- Go back to all of the shelters every day. There are a lot of animals coming and going daily and shelter employees are very busy. You cannot depend on someone always remembering that an animal like yours was brought in, when they see so many.
- Call all of the local animal control officers in surrounding towns and get a photo to them. Visit the town pounds daily.
- Call area veterinary clinics and ask if any animals fitting your pet’s description has been brought in. Get them a photo of your pet and microchip number if available, so they can have all the information.
- Check the “pet found” section in each of the local newspapers daily. Please follow up on any ad that describes an animal similar to yours, since the finder may not describe your pet exactly as you would.
- Drive and walk around the area where your pet was lost or last seen. Cats can wander into a neighbor’s basement or garage, fall asleep and accidentally get shut in. Well-meaning people may have your dog in their backyard.
- Go out very early in the morning or late at night, when it is quiet, to the place where your pet was lost or last seen. Bring your pet’s favorite treat, food or toy and a flashlight. Call your pet’s name, do a whistle or sound s/he is accustomed to hearing from you and wait to see if your pet shows up. Try this repeatedly.
- If your pet is an indoor cat who does not usually get out, place her/his litter box outside, where s/he may smell her/his own scent and recognize home. (Do not clean it out first.)
Missing Pet Partnership
Please visit Missing Pet Partnership where you may find some helpful advice to aid in getting your pet back home.
Missing Pet Partnership has done extensive research into how animals behave when they are separated from their homes, and have discovered that not all lost pet incidents are the same. The organization has identified the three most common reasons why pets become separated from their families: opportunistic journey, wanderlust and blind panic. They’ve also identified six major factors that influence the distances that a lost pet will travel: temperament, circumstances, weather, terrain, appearance and population density.
Remember, pets can be amazingly resourceful and resilient. Don’t stop looking for yours. There have been many stories of pets being found months and even years after their disappearance.