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What To Do If You Have Lost Your Pet

It is important to act quickly in the event you have lost your cat or dog. Although pets may turn up after months of searching, the first few days are critical.

  1. Immediately start looking! Create flyers and include the following:
    • Pet's Name, Breed, Gender, Size, and Age
    • Picture of pet
    • Description of pet (do NOT include distinctive markings – they will be needed for proper identification in avoiding scam artists looking for a reward)
    • Date and area pet was lost
    • Contact name and phone number
    • Reward Offered (do not include $ amount of reward)
    • Include a "No Questions Asked" statement
  2. Immediately Report Your Lost Pet
  3. Recruit Friends and Post Flyers
    • Inform area animal shelters / rescue groups, dog walkers, postal workers, and delivery persons
    • Post at traffic intersections, public walkways, grocery stores, veterinary clinics, local pet supply stores, groomers, training & boarding facilities, community parks, and schools.
  4. Post and Research Lost Pet Ads
  5. DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE! Your pet may turn up after months of searching. Once found, please be sure your pet is microchipped and wearing current ID tags. Please read our article on the importance of microchipping your pet.

What To Do If You Find A Pet

  • Don't assume the animal has been abandoned. It's very possible the animal on your doorstep has a family who loves him and is searching for him.
  • Look for identification. A name/identification tag can lead you directly to the owner. Rabies tags and shelter tags also have traceable numbers.
  • If there are no identification tags, consider taking the animal to a veterinarian or shelter that has a microchip scanning device, so they may check for an implanted microchip. Additionally, search the animal for tattoos.
  • Call your local animal shelter. You may find the phone number in the Yellow Pages under Animal Shelters, the municipal section of the White Pages or by calling your town or city hall. Give the shelter a full description of the animal. If the owners call looking for their lost pet, the group will have the information on file with which to cross-reference. If you wish to foster the animal, inform the agency of your desire to do so - most agencies are agreeable to this.
  • Network and recruit your neighbors for help. Ask them if they know who owns the animal.
  • Place a "Found Pet" ad in your local paper. When placing the ad omit a pertinent piece of information about the animal (i.e., white tip at the end of the tail). This will help you find the correct owner. You may also wish to ask responders of the ad for the name and phone number of their own veterinarian. Call the veterinarian and verify the information the caller supplies is correct before turning the animal over to the caller.
  • Check the "Lost Pet" ads daily.
  • Prepare a flyer giving only a physical description of the pet and distribute copies widely on bulletin boards in your neighborhood.
  • As you travel, look for community bulletin boards in shopping centers, libraries, churches, synagogues, or anywhere else you may post a notice of general interest. Additionally, place flyers on the streets at busy intersections (you may first want to check the legality of posting on public property). As you distribute the posters, remember to look for the flyer that the owner himself, may have posted.

An alternative is to turn the animal over to a shelter. His owner may be found or he may be placed for adoption. A lost pet depends on you. Do for this animal what you would want someone to do for your beloved pet.

How NOT To Lose Your Pet

Even the most responsible pet owners can lose a pet due to unforeseen circumstances. Try to take every precaution to see that the animal is safely protected:

  1. License: Dogs and cats with a current license or identification tag attached to their collars are held at Animal Services Centers for a full 10 days instead of the four days (4) unlicensed strays are held. The owners are notified by telephone and via US Mail. Keep the county informed of any address or telephone number changes after you have applied for your pet's license.
  2. Identification Tag: Although many people are reluctant to assume a loose dog may be lost, a message such as "Help me, I'm lost" with your current telephone number and address on the tag will encourage people to contact you rather than let it wander to starve, become ill or be hit by a car.
  3. Confinement: There is no better protection for your pet than a fenced yard or enclosed kennel area, do not let your pet run loose. Loose animals have caused serious auto accidents, harassed and/or killed livestock and other confined animals, damaged property and have become neighborhood nuisances.
  4. Obedience: Many local organizations offer low-cost training classes. A well-trained pet can be a joy for you as well as your neighbors. If you are interested in classes, a volunteer will be happy to give you the telephone numbers of organizations in your area.
  5. Spay and Neuter: Decrease your animal's urge to wander in search of a mate. Spaying and neutering dramatically reduces and can eliminate the attraction of males to females.