What to Do When You Have a Lost Cat or Lost Dog
Getting separated from a pet is immensely stressful. Here are three must-do steps if you have a lost pet.
Stage 1: Planning Ahead
- Please Spay and Neuter Your Pets
You can’t control squirrels, fireworks or thunderstorms, but spaying and neutering your pet reduces their urge to roam, eliminates the chance of an accidental litter and decreases their chance of being a lost pet statistic.
- Visible ID at All Times
Collar and ID tags with two up-to-date phone numbers (including area codes) is the main way that lost pets get home. It is also a good idea to attach a license and rabies tag in case your lost dog or lost cat gets picked up by Animal Control. You can also order collars with your pet’s name and your phone number stitched onto them. If your pet has a talent for ditching tags, or if they are shy and may react to a person reaching for their tag, an embroidered collar may be a better choice.
- Microchip Your Pet and Update Your Contact Information in a Registry
Animal shelters report that microchipped lost dogs are 2.4 times more likely to be reunited with their families, and microchipped lost cats are reunited 21.4 times more often! It’s a quick and inexpensive procedure, and you can have your vet check to see if your pet has already been microchipped if you aren’t sure. Microchips do not function as a tracking device, so you must register the microchip number for it to be traced back to you when your lost pet is found and scanned by an animal care professional.
- Take Lots of Pictures
Take good, clear pictures, so you have recent photographs to share in case you have a lost pet.
- Survey Your Space
Make sure gates are closed and window screens are in good condition. If you have gardeners or live with a lot of people, tape up reminders like “Close windows before leaving;” or “Lock gate behind you.” Does your pet love to dig? Are they excellent jumpers? You know their hidden talents. Periodically check for escape routes that could result in a lost cat or lost dog.
Stage 2: When You First Notice Your Pet Is Lost
- Verify Your Contact Information Where Your Microchip is Registered
Double check that everything on your profile is accurate in case your lost pet gets picked up sooner rather than later. If your pet is found, you’ll want to be contacted ASAP!
- Tell Friends and Followers on Social Media
You’ll need help looking for your lost pet, and soon. See if anyone comments that they’re available to help you look. If you want to be all formal about it, create a Facebook event to ask friends to search the vicinity. Have them retweet all those recent photos you took. You know how this part works.
- Start Searching
If the whole family is available, leave someone home to answer the landline if you put that number on the tag. Also a good idea in case your lost pet suddenly shows up back at home after 20 minutes and needs to be let in before they go running off again. Have the fort holder start calling neighbors personally, too. When you are out looking, bring plenty of bait. Treats, yes; but do they also have a favorite squeaky toy?
Stage 3: Broadening Your Search
- File a Lost Pet Report
Your local animal shelter, humane society, SPCA, rescue league, etc. should have an online form to fill out to post a lost pet ad on their site.
- Prepare and Post Your Flyers
LOST CAT/LOST DOG. PERRO/GATO PERDITO. Something standard, giant font, clear image of your pet, with contact information. Put them on any and all public bulletin boards and telephone poles. Try getting permission for shop windows, or any other private property where you think your flyer should be seen. It’s recommended you not specify the amount of any reward. And no, you will not be wiring some suspicious caller any money. If you live in a multilingual neighborhood, your poster should be multilingual too. Don’t speak Armenian or Korean? Translate it online – even a broken translation is better than nothing.
- Post Elsewhere Online
CraigsList. Nextdoor.com. The Center for Lost Pets. Pet Amber Alert. There are too many regional sites to mention, at least here in L.A. Give them a shot; hopefully your community will get involved.
- Check All Nearby Animal Shelters
Do a circuit every day or two; see any new intakes in person. Bring more posters when you first visit. Not to be insensitive, but also check the list of deceased pets.
- Post a Lost Pet Ad in the Paper
Sure people still read the paper – not everyone is online. It couldn’t hurt! Check the found ads, too.
Don’t give up! If your lost cat or lost dog is microchipped, your contact info is all current and something devastating happened to your pet, Animal Control would’ve probably set off the microchip registry to alert you by now. No news is still better than that! Remain diligent. If your lost pet is missing while you read this, we wish you the best of luck in your search.
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.