Tips for a Lost Pet

lost pet tips

If your pet strays from home, it can be a devastating experience for both you and your pet. You should act immediately because the longer you wait, the further away your pet can travel and the higher probability they could get injured.

- First, make sure you have properly searched your OWN home to confirm your pet is not just hiding somewhere. Make sure to check any garages, basements and sheds on the property, even if you don’t think your pet could have gotten in there. Pets can get into some very strange and small places. Look behind, under and inside all appliances such as washing machines, stoves, refrigerators. For cats, make sure to check in attics, on the roof or roof gutters, and up in trees.

- Search your neighborhood, knock on doors and talk to all your neighbors. Leave a phone number with them in case they find your pet at a later time. Walk, ride a bicycle or drive slowly through your neighborhood and make some noise while you go around the neighborhood (call the pet’s name also). Animals can hear you from very long distances. Bring your pets favorite things with you, a “squeaky” toy or favorite treats and rattle them loudly while calling your pet’s name. It’s also important to stop regularly, be quiet, and listen to see if your pet is making any noise. Sometimes they may make a noise in reply or they may be hiding somewhere whimpering or barking.

- Post signs at intersections and around your neighborhood. Place signs within a 2-mile radius of where your pet was lost. You can also post signs at grocery stores, pet stores, vet offices, and apartment complexes. Don’t put your name or address on the flyer, but make sure there is contact info such as a phone number and/or email address. Put a color photo preferably and include the date and where the pet was lost as well as a couple distinguishing marks. Don’t include all distinguishing marks, withhold some marks and characteristics so if someone does call you can verify that they actually found your pet by telling you some distinguishing marks. Include the breed of dog or cat, sex, age, weight and color, use bright colored paper for higher visibility. Give copies of your flier to people that walk their dogs in the area. They’re more likely to spot animals than most people. If you go to the parks early, you may find people who regularly walk their dogs together as an informal group. Click here for more tips on lost-pet posters

- Go to all the local shelters within a 20-mile radius and the government agencies charged with picking up stray and lost animals and look for yourself, at least every other day. Calling the animal control department or shelter on the phone is not very effective. Your pet may not yet be listed in the records at the front desk, and the way you describe your pet may not be the way a shelter describes your dog or pet. Any animal may become dirty, matted and neglected looking very quickly, and you must visit the shelter, even if your pet was wearing tags when it was lost. You should go to the shelters at least every other day. Few shelters can keep animals for more than 72 hours. Sometimes it takes more than a few days for a pet to be picked up and brought to a shelter. It’s important to visit all the shelters within 20 miles of where your pet was lost. In many areas stray animals are picked up by a government agency which holds them for a period and then turns them over to a shelter. If someone took your pet in for a few days hoping you would knock on their door and ask about it, they might later drop your pet off at the shelter that’s most convenient for them, rather the one that’s closest.

- Use the Power of Scent: Place a recently worn article of clothing belonging to a family member or the lost pet’s unwashed bedding in your yard or outside your front door where the breeze can carry the scent. Familiar scents can bring them home. Cats will respond to an open can of tuna fish or litter box also.

- Contact veterinary clinics both in your area and surrounding areas. An animal could have been injured, rescued and taken out of the area in any direction for some distance so check them thoroughly and often.

- Place an advertisement in your local and community newspapers, some will even place ads for free. Check often columns dealing with “lost and found” and animals for at least two months. Advertise on both Sunday as well as during the week as some people on get the Sunday paper. Make sure you also check the newspaper’s found section as most newspapers will provide free ads for people who have found lost pets. Post an ad in any neighborhood websites, such as Nextdoor or local Facebook groups.

- ID Tags: If your pet’s ID tags have an old address and phone, contact the people who now live at that address and now have that phone number – even if they are out-of-town numbers. Let them know your pet is missing and give them your current information. Check back with them occasionally, in case they lose your information. If your pet has current information on his ID tags, follow all these tips anyway. Collars come off very easily and he may no longer have ID on them. Click here for more ID tips

- Unfortunately, you must also check to find out if your pet has been fatally injured on the road. This is very sad, but necessary as you may never know otherwise and it’s best to know if they passed on. The road crews for your local and state department of transportation (DOT) are usually in charge of picking up deceased animals from the roadside and city streets. Sometimes Animal Control will also do this, so check with them. Dogs are picked up quicker than cats, usually within 24 hours, so check with them every day to see if they have found them.

Local resources
Animal Humane Society – submit a lost pet report to the bulletin board, or check the Found Pets board
Local City Animal Control Department – it is better to check the animals they have found personally
Local Veternary clinics and hospitals
Local Shelters – follow this link for a list of all local shelters and rescues in the Twin Cities

Lost My Doggie – a lost pet recovery service with various options for pet recovery
Lost Pet Found Pet – uses social media to spread the word about lost pets
Missing Pet Network – a network of volunteers who help people find missing pets
Lost Dog MN: Facebook group dedicated to finding lost dogs


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