What to do if your pet is LOST (see additional instructions for cats below):
Try not to panic! Losing your pet is traumatic, but try to stay positive. Act right away, because the longer you wait, the further away your pet can travel, as well as get injured.
According to one survey, about 93% of dogs and 75% of cats are returned safely to their owners.
Listed below are things you can do to try to find your pet.
- Report a lost pet to area shelter or rescue organization. Visit them on a daily basis if you can. New pets arrive daily and just calling them is not enough. If your pet had a collar on, it’s possible it has come off (another reason to visit daily).
- Ask the staff to check their hospital area, as your pet may have been brought in injured.
- Also ask about pets that didn’t make it – most people find it’s more difficult not ever knowing what happened.
- If you don’t have any luck finding your pet at local shelters, increase the radius of the area you’re covering.
- Leave some water, the dog’s bed and an article of your own clothing at the location where your dog was last seen. There’s a chance he or she might return.
- Create posters and flyers that contain a description and recent photograph of your pet as well as your contact information. Click here for a template you can use to make your own flyer (see completed example at the top of this page)
- Consider using bright colored poster board or paper so your notice stands out. Place in a sheet protector.
- Hand out to neighbors.
- Post in veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, groomers, local dog parks.
- Post in the neighborhood, traffic intersections and other public places (coffee shops, grocery stores, post office, etc.).
- Leave a copy of your flyer with the shelter and rescue organizations
- Get the word out! Speak to your neighbors or people that live near the location where your pet was last seen. Walk or drive through the area where the pet was last seen. Call your pet’s name and then listen for a bark, meow or a whimper.
- Enlist the help of friends and family. Ask the postal carrier, delivery people if they’ve seen your pet.
- Search the neighborhood and take along a collar and leash, treats, food, squeaky toys and anything that will coax your pet to come to you. If your lost pet has a pet buddy or playmate, take him or her with you.
- Contact area veterinary hospitals in the event that your pet was found injured and taken there. You can find a list of local veterinary hospitals at webvet.com/main/vetfinder.
- Contact the police department to see if anyone has reported finding your dog or cat.
- If your pet is microchipped, call the microchip company and report your pet missing. Make sure you have an answering machine or voicemail that can take messages if you’re unable to answer. Provide the contact information for a secondary person (friend or family) that can be contacted if you aren’t available.
- Post a photo and your contact information on your own social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and those social media pages that are dedicated to reuniting pets with their owners (see list and links below). Nextdoor.com is also a good place within your immediate neighborhood to post about your lost pet. Ask people to “share” (not just “like”) your post so it reaches more people. Check these social media outlets frequently.
- Post on pet recovery websites (TheCenterforLostPets.com, FidoFinder.com, PetFBI.org, ASPCA mobile app).
- Put a “lost pet” ad in local newspapers. Include a description of your pet, where he or she was last seen and your contact information. Consider doing the same on Craigslist. When describing your pet, intentionally leave out something unique about your pet that only you would know. To be sure it is your pet, ask the finder to describe it.
- Check the “pets found” sections of local newspapers daily. Consider doing the same on Craigslist.
- Consider offering a reward, but don’t disclose the amount.
- Don’t give up! Pets may be found weeks to months after they go missing.
What to do if your cat is LOST:
In addition to all of the above consider doing the following:
- First make sure your cat isn’t hiding somewhere in your house or garage. Look in the attic, and behind and inside appliances. Some kitties are enjoying the heat of clothes that are in the dryer.
- When searching the neighborhood, take a flashlight and go slow in your search for cats. When they are trying to hide, they don’t move. Cats are notorious for hiding in small areas under or between things. Ask to check neighbors’ garages.
- If your kitty usually comes running to the sound of a can of food being opened, a squeaky toy or shaking of a treat container, try it.
Local Facebook pages:
Other websites to check for lost and found pets and general info:
Finding Rover Registering your pet using this free smartphone app uses facial recognition software to help match your pet’s face to a database seen by thousands of users. The Ventura County shelter system partners with Finding Rover and already has many scanned faces in their database. All you need is a picture of your pet’s face.