Help! My Pet's Missing!

Immediately

  1. The House
    Look in, around and outside your home or the area where you last saw your pet. Ask someone to help you find your pet. Check everywhere, both high and low. Be sure to make lots of noise, rattle favorite toys and treats and yell for your pet.

    WHN EXPERT TIP: Look Immediately!

    Don’t wait and assume it’ll return home on its own. Be sure to look in a 2-block radius because the cat or dog could be scared or hiding.
    – Barbara Baugnon, Oregon Humane Society
  2. Have You Seen ….
    Ask neighbors or passers-by if they have seen your pet. Tell them when you last saw your pet and what your pet looks like.
  3. The Neighborhood
    Ask your letter carrier, garbage collector, newspaper deliverer and other workers in your neighborhood if they’ve seen your pet.
  4. The Scent
    Place strong smelling items outside in your yard such as recently worn clothing, the pet’s bedding, the cat’s litter box, cooked meat, treats, etc. Animals find their way by scent.
  5. Rescued?
    If your pet is a rescue pet, call that organization. Many times they put out calls to fellow ‘rescuers’ in your neighborhood and many people immediately begin looking for your pet.

Next Steps

Write It Down
Make a descriptive list of your pet’s features (these will be important to know when trying to locate your pet):
  1. Name of animal
  2. Breed of animal
  3. Weight, size
  4. Color of fur and eyes
  5. Male or female
  6. Age
  7. Type and color of collar
  8. Marks, scars, spots

Jot down these other important details below (also important when trying to locate your pet):

  1. If it’s neutered or spayed
  2. Tag, tattoo and microchip I.D. numbers
  3. Medical problems

Find the most recent photo you have of your pet and make several copies. You’ll need these for flyers and to hand out to shelters and other local authorities.

Make Calls

  1. Contact local animal control services each day to see if they’ve found your pet and where they may have taken him or her.
  2. Contact your local and state animal shelters each day. Consider visiting the shelters to see if your pets have been found. Provide a picture of your pet and contact number at each shelter.
  3. Call local animal rescue organizations in your area each day. If your pet is a purebred, contact the breed-specific rescue groups.
  4. Call veterinary offices during the day and call emergency animal hospitals at night.
  5. If your pet has a microchip implant, notify the company.
  6. If you believe your pet was stolen, contact the police or sheriff to file a police report.
  7. Unfortunately, your pet may have been hit by a car. You may want to contact the local and state department of transportation to see if this is the case.

WHN EXPERT TIP: Smaller Communities

Live in a smaller community? Consider putting an ad on the local radio stations about your missing pet.
- Leslie Rocky – Colorado Animal Rescue Center, Glenwood Springs CO

Make Flyers

  1. Make “Lost” signs or flyers.
    • Use bright colors and big lettering to attract attention.
    • Put the pet’s name, photo, descriptive markings or scars and your contact number on the flyer.
    • Hang these in the area where your pet was last seen. Be sure that they’re hung high enough for drivers to see.
    • Consider offering a reward.
    • Use your cell phone for a contact point

    WHN EXPERT TIP: Stay Close

    When putting up flyers aim for at least a 3-block radius of your home – pets tend to stay closer to home.
    - Karen Sands – Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, KS

  2. Consider putting a “Lost” ad in your local newspaper and publications as well.

    WHN EXPERT TIP: Home Address

    Don’t put your home address or last name on the flyer. That might attract a different type of attention.

Found Pets

Remember to check the “Found” ads in local newspapers, publications and online.

If you find your pet on your own

  1. If your pet has injuries, be very careful handling it. Even if it knows you, your pet may bite and scratch you, due to fear and pain.
  2. Use a blanket to cover and wrap the animal before you try to move it. This will help prevent injury to you and the animal.
  3. If your pet has been injured or appears to be sick, it should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  4. If you called your local and state animal shelters, animal control services and humane societies, call them again and tell them that you found your pet.
  5. Remember to take down all the flyers you posted.

If someone else finds your pet and calls you:

  1. If you do not know the person, ask to meet them in a public place such as a church or store parking lot during the day. Bring someone with you to pick up your pet.
  2. If you offered a reward, consider bringing that with you when you pick up your pet.
  3. If you called your local and state animal shelters, animal control services and humane societies, call them again and tell them that you found your pet.
  4. Remember to take down all the flyers you posted.

If animal control finds your pet:

  1. Call the Animal Control Center about when to pick up your pet.
  2. You may receive a warning notice and/or have to pay a fine.
    • You may also have to pay a fine if you cannot prove that your pet’s rabies vaccination is up-to-date (no record or rabies tag).
    • You may have to pay the boarding costs for each night or day spent at the Animal Control Center.
  3. If you called your local and state animal shelters, animal control services and humane societies, call them again and tell them that you found your pet.
  4. Remember to take down all the flyers you posted.

If a shelter finds your pet:

  1. Shelters will hold the pet for a limited amount of time, depending on the shelter’s policies and how many spaces are available.
  2. If the pet is not claimed with that timeframe, the shelter will put the animal up for adoption.
  3. If the pet is not adopted within a specific period of time, the pet may be euthanized or given to another organization such as a breed-specific rescue organization. Remember to contact the local animal rescue groups in your area.
  4. If you find your pet at a shelter, you may have to pay a boarding fee.
  5. Remember to take down all the flyers you posted.

WHN EXPERT TIP: Extra Costs

If the shelter has spayed or neutered your pet or installed a microchip, you will probably have to pay for those services.
– Barbara Baugnon, Oregon Humane Society

Updated: 10/2009