It can happy quickly, your dog gets loose on a walk, a visitor comes over and your cat bolts out the door, and then panic sets in. Now, your pet is missing and you aren’t sure what to do. You’re not alone. It’s estimated that 10 million pets go missing each year. Here are some steps to help ensure that if your pet goes missing, you are reunited quickly.
Don’t wait around for your pet to come back to you. Start looking immediately by walking the neighborhood, using food, and calling out your pet’s name. Ask neighbors and those out and about to assist with your search. If you adopted your pet, contact the rescue organization and let them know. Often, they’ll have a good base of volunteers willing to help look and also have additional resources.
If you lost your cat, check every nook and cranny within a five-house radius. Cats tend to stay close to home if they are wandering. Bring a carrier while you check neighbor’s yards. Calmly call their name while looking under porches, in bushes, and anywhere else a kitty may hide. If your cats are like mine, they’ll come running for a certain sound. Whether it’s a treat bag or opening a can of food, bring that noise along with you. In the meantime, put out a litter box, fragrant food, and their favorite bed or cat tree on your porch or doorstep. If possible, leave a window or door open. This can help lure them home.
If it’s your dog that got lost, grab an extra leash and head out to look. Quickly assess the situation. Did your dog get scared or go off for fun? Are there areas close by that your dog likes to visit? By knowing the circumstances, you’ll have a better idea of how to find him. Call your dog’s name calmly so you don’t scare them away further. If possible, have one person stay home while others go out looking. Bring the dog’s favorite items (toys, treats, etc.) along with you since dogs can follow scent trails.
Post about it
If you weren’t able to find your pet while looking, start posting your pet. Some of the best places to start are sites like Nextdoor, Craigslist, and neighborhood facebook groups. You can also post pets to the following lost pet sites:
- Pet FBI
- Lost Dogs IL (Illinois only)
- Center for Lost Pets
- Fido Finder
- Lost Dogs of America
- Missing Pet Partnership
Recently, PetCo Love launched PetCo Love Lost which helps to reunite pets with their owners by searching local shelters.
Contact Local Shelters
After posting, visit your local shelters. If you’re not sure where the closest shelter is, simply google “your city + animal shelter” and many will pop up. Call every shelter in a 60 mile radius and ask if they take in stray animals. If they do, tell them you’ve lost your pet and ask if you can visit. Animals come into shelters daily and it’s nearly impossible for staff to know all the animals in their care. Head to your local municipal animal controls to see if your pet ended up there.
If your pet is not there one day, go back several more times. Animal control officers are out in the field so animals come in at different times each day.
There are a lot of good people who try and find owners if they come across stray animals. Post a lost pet sign in your area with a picture of your pet, a description (sex, age, color, markings), and when and where the pet was last seen. Put your contact information as well (phone number is usually fastest!) and any other important information. If your animal has any behavioral or medical needs, list those as well.
If someone does contact you, beware of scams. Leave out one key detail from your flyer so that the person who finds your pet can tell you that information. Something about its markings or colorings usually works well. This way you can ask the finder a question to confirm they do have your pet. Do not wire or send any money until you have the pet back. Don’t give out personal details such as address or bank information. If possible, have the finder send a picture of your pet to you prior to meeting.
Check information is current
Make sure if your pet is microchipped (if not do this immediately!) that the contact information is updated. If you don’t know your pet’s microchip information, contact your veterinarian or the rescue organization you adopted from. They’ll usually have your pet’s details on file. You should also let your veterinarian and rescue know your pet is missing so they can be on alert for potential calls.
Call the microchip company and flag your pet as missing. Ask them to confirm the details they have on file so that you know how they will contact you if your pet is found. Often when people move, they forget to update their pet’s microchip information. I just updated my pets’ information today!
Register your pet’s microchip with the Found Animal Registry. It’s a free resource that I highly recommend taking advantage of!
Losing a pet is terrifying, but if you take action, chances are high you will be reunited with your furry companion.
Once you find your pet, make sure to remove any posters and update your social media posts letting people know he’s been found. Consider taking your pet to the vet to ensure they’re in good health.
Maddox – This beautiful brindle one-year-old boy was surrendered by his owner at six months old due to housing issues. The owner was devastated but ChiTown Pitties was able to step in and help. This dude is a classic pandemic puppy that is nervous around new people but after a few minutes, warms up nicely. He has an excellent foundation of manners and does well with other dogs. He’d be fine with kids older than 10 and would love a home for summer!
This vintage tee is from my friend’s store, The Pop Up. If you’re into vintage 90s tees, hard-to-find sneakers, and collectibles, stop by this local Chicago store or shop online! Shoes are vegan boots (on sale!), and jeans are Agolde.