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Finding A Lost Pet

Realizing your beloved pet is missing can be a gut wrenching feeling. You’ll increase your chance of a happy reunion if you don’t panic, act quickly, and persevere in your search.

When you realize your pet is missing, it’s important to take immediate action. Don’t wait for her to return on her own. Start by asking family members where they last saw the pet. If you think your pet may be hiding somewhere in the house, look under furniture and inside reclining chairs and boxsprings, behind large items such as washers and dryers, in closets, behind dresser drawers, and check other likely hiding places. Running the can opener, rattling the food dish, or squeaking a favorite toy may entice your pet out of hiding.

If your pet is lost outside, initiate your search immediately. Enlist the help of family, friends, and neighbors and start with your yard and work outward. Exchange cell phone numbers with everyone so you can be reached if someone spots your pet. In addition to looking in all accessible places, ask neighbors to check their sheds and garages.

Take a recent photo with you and show it to everyone you meet. Knock on neighbor’s doors and tell them your pet is missing. Be sure to give everyone your number and ask them to call if they spot your pet, offering a generous reward for information that leads to her return.

Cats are sometimes more easily found after dark. Shine a flashlight into bushes and shrubs, under porches and cars, in drainage pipes and culverts, and in other confined spaces where a cat may hide. Look for the reflection of the light on their eyes. Carefully walk through areas of high grass and thick vegetation, as your cat may be crouched down and difficult to spot. Also, stop frequently and listen, as she may be trapped in a building or too frightened to move from her hiding place, but she may meow in distress.

Put your pet’s favorite food on your porch or at your door. Indoor cats sometimes become skittish if they’re loose outside, so you may need to use a live trap to catch a frightened cat; using a favorite food or treat as bait. You may also want to put an article of your clothing in the trap.

If you have another pet, place it in a secure carrier in your yard. Your lost pet may respond to it’s housemate’s scent or cries. Remain present to supervise.

Set live traps in areas where your pet has been spotted. Be sure to get homeowner’s permission and check the traps several times a day.

Create and print flyers. The flyers should boldly state “LOST DOG/CAT” at the top with the word “REWARD” prominently featured underneath. Include a recent photograph that clearly shows your pet. Be sure to use a photo that will reproduce well. Use color flyers if possible. State the age, size, color, and sex of your pet, as well as any distinguishing characteristics. If your pet is friendly, note that as well. Include your cell phone number and also an alternative contact number in case you can’t be reached. Try to answer every call so that if someone spots your pet, you can go to the area immediately.

On the flyer, state where the pet was last seen and start posting them in that area. Deliver them to every home in the neighborhood and hand them out to mailmen/women; delivery drivers, such as UPS, FedEx, etc; paperboys/girls; neighborhood children; policemen; and others who travel the area or who spend a lot of time outside. Give them to everyone you see walking a dog in the area. Post them in pet supply stores; vet’s offices; and retail establishments in the area, such as gas stations grocery stores, laundromats, and restaurants. Also place flyers on posts and trees, particularly in the area where your pet was lost. Intersections are a good place to post flyers because cars stop, making the flyer more visible.

Safety note: Beware of scams. If someone claims to have your pet and wants the reward, make sure you see your pet first and always arrange to meet in a well-lit public place.

Post ads on internet websites such as Craigslist. Send emails to local friends and colleagues, including the information on your “Reward” flyer. If your neighborhood association has an email news digest, ask the administrator to send out an emergency alert; if they have a website and/or community center, place notices there. Post to local online classified sites and newsgroups. Exercise extreme caution when you’re contacted by anyone you don’t know.

Place ads in local newspapers and check the “found” ads daily.

Once you’ve found your pet, please be sure to remove all flyers you posted.

Alert animal control, the police, and all local shelters and rescue groups. Visit animal shelters in person, including those in adjoining counties. Don’t rely on the person answering the phone to recognize your pet based on your description. Check in person every day. Shelters are often understaffed and the person answering the phone may not have seen the most recent pets brought in. Shelter workers wouldn’t deliberately mislead you, but they may not recognize your pet based. Your fluffy white dog may quickly become a matted brown mess when running at large.

Check with all area veterinary offices, including after-hours emergency clincs, in case your pet was injured and someone took it to a vet.

Unpleasant as it sounds, also contact the agency that picks up animals that have been hit by cars to see if an animal matching your pet’s description was found. Contact the Department of Transportation to obtain this information.  Although this is not a favorable outcome, at least you’ll know your pet’s fate.

There are several online services that assist in locating lost pets:

Due to the risk of becoming lost, it’s important for a pet to always wear ID. We recommend all pets be microchipped for permanent identification. Supplemental visible ID in the form of a tag is also recommended. If you move or change your phone number, be sure to update the microchip registry data and also purchase a new ID tag for your pet’s collar.

It’s also important to take measures to prevent these situations from occurring. Make sure windows and doors close securely and if you use screens, but sure they’d not loose or damaged. Repair any weak spots to fencing and keep all gates securely locked. We recommend supervision anytime a pet is outdoors.