20 steps you can take when your pet is lost

Would you know what steps to take if your pet is lost? Most likely you think it will not happen to you. You are too careful; he is too well-behaved. Visit any animal shelter and you will realize quickly that you are wrong.

An open door goes unnoticed, a dog gets frightened by a thunder storm, you are traveling with your pet and someone you are staying with lets him out.

There are so many scenarios and as a result, so many lost pets. It can happen to you so be prepared, and act fast if your pet goes missing.

Be prepared and take immediate action when your pet is lost
  1. Microchip your pet and keep that information up to date.
  2. Have your pet wear a collar with ID and license tags, even if she is chipped. Make sure the license contact information is current. List your mobile phone number as the primary phone since it is the fastest and most effective way for someone to contact you if your pet is lost.
  3. Register with a lost and found agency, such as any of the websites listed here.
  4. Carry current photos of your pets, especially if you are traveling with them.
  5. Call your local animal services to report your missing pet and program their number into your mobile phone. Fill out a lost pet report and ask for a lost pet poster to complete and distribute. If you are traveling with your pet, do a search for ‘animal services’ in the area you will be traveling to and have that number handy.
  6. Distribute your lost pet posters and hang them on telephone poles over a wide area. When a pet is lost, she can travel further than you think, especially if she is frightened, confused or disoriented.
  7. Make index card-size printouts with the same information on the lost poster. Knock on doors of homes and businesses in every direction from where your pet disappeared. Leave the cards under doors and on car windshields, and give one to every person you meet.
  8. While you are canvassing for your pet, call her name often. She may be hiding, but is likely to come out when she hears your voice.
  9. Contact your animal licensing authority to let them know your pet is lost. Confirm they have your current phone number to contact you. Program this telephone number into your mobile phone.
  10. Call veterinarians in the area. They can scan pets for microchips, and some veterinarians take in lost pets in their communities.
  11. Visit all shelters in the area; use Petfinder and Google to find them.
  12. Ask animal services and every shelter or rescue group you visit where lost pets are taken. In more remote places, they are often brought to shelters in neighboring cities that can be up to an hour away from where your pet was lost.
  13. Call the local sheriff’s department to inquire about your pet. They typically take in lost animals when area shelters and animal services are closed.
  14. Use social media: post a notice on your Facebook page with a photo of your pet and your contact information. If you use Twitter, tweet your pet’s photo, ‘last seen’ address and how to get in touch with you.
  15. Post your lost pet on local online forums.
  16. Email everyone you know when your pet goes missing. Even if they do not live near where your pet was lost, they might know someone who does.
  17. Place a ‘lost’ ad in your local newspaper as soon as your pet is lost. These ads are usually free.
  18. If you do not have a mobile phone, check your home answering machine frequently.
  19. If you put your address on your pet’s ID tag, make sure someone is home in case your pet gets dropped off or returns home on his own.
  20. Leave no stone unturned! Look everywhere, tell everyone and do not give up!


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  2. Hairless Cat

    Hi Pets For Patriots,

    Wow, that is one comprehensive and useful list of things to do when a cat or dog goes missing.

    It’s a heart wrenching situation to be in and I’ve been in it before. On more than one occasion I’ve had one of my cats run out the door and was unable to catch her right away. The thing that saved her is talking to neighbors. On one occasion a neighbor brought her back. But I had done some of the things on your list too.

    I like the idea of the various groups you’ve listed to contact. The more feelers you can get out, the better the chance of getting your pet back. Using social media, local online forums, and email is an insightful idea and could help.

    Nowadays, I shoo the cats back from the door when I open it. There hasn’t been an attempted escape for years, luckily.

    Great resources and thanx,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  3. Pets for Patriots

    Carol, we all hope to never have to use this information, but even if you never do for your own pets, you might be in a position to help a neighbor or friend who loses theirs. Better to be prepared!

  4. Carol

    Thank you for this very informative and very useful article. I saved a copy of it. Dread the thought of ever having to use of it. I belong to a very wide network of pet enthusiasts, and, unfortunately, there will be a day when I’ll find myself forwarding this information.

    Again, thank you.

  5. Jacquie Samper

    Hi Beth

    I truly agre with you.its very important to have them microchipped .

    This to let you know that Sugar Bear is doing great,allot more friendly with Roger and Playing something she wasn’t doing before.always asking for attention and what she loves more asking for love. Whom ever abused her will never know what a great dog she is! Last weekend Rogers granddaughter was here and at first we were very scared about sugar bears reaction,but as always she surprised us playing with them ,running and very lovable with her.which was great for us as we enjoyed seeing them play and run,what a weekend!Yesterday Afternoon one of the volunteers from the shelter came over to see her and she was very happy to all the progress Sugar bear has made in such a short time.She said we were doing the right things with her and that if she would see her walking with me somewhere else she wouldn’t recognize her as she has gain weigh and her hair is shinny.

    Again We really want to thank you and Pets for Patriots for everything you’ve done for us!

    Warm regards

    Jacquie Samper Roger Voss

  6. David Lesage

    Very useful information and to the point, some dogs can be 20 miles away within an hour of being lost, microchip is one of the surest way to get your per back.


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