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What To Do When You've Lost Your Pet!

Here are some tips to help you find a lost pet:

Search Your Neighbourhood
Walk or drive through your neighbourhood several times a day, especially early in the morning and at dusk. Ask neighbours and their children (kids often know more about the neighbourhood than working parents), letter carriers, joggers, garbage collectors, newspaper carriers and others to look out for your pet.

Visit Animal Shelters and the Animal Pound
Go and visit the animal shelters in your area - rather than phoning them. Often shelters have many animals that might match your pet and workers are often too busy to handle the phone calls. Visit the shelter every 24 hours. If you don't have a shelter in your area contact the local police.

Try The Power of Scent
Try placing a recently worn piece of clothing outside. Animals have a keen sense of smell and familiar smells can bring them home. For indoor cats, place their litter box outside.

Put Up Eye Catching Posters
Distribute flyers in as may public places as you can think of: for example, grocery stores, community centers, churches, schools, pet stores, animal groomers, etc. If possible include a picture of your pet. Describe your pet in detail, including your pet's name. Include the date and place the animal was lost and a phone number where you can be reached. Mention any particular markings or the color of your pet's collar in the write-up. Consider offering a nominal reward. (Beware of callers who say they have your pet and demand you send them money for the animal's return. Withhold one of your pet's identifying characteristics so you can verify the honesty of a caller who is claiming to have found your pet.)

Place an Ad in the Paper
Place an ad in the "lost" column of local newspapers. Since many papers allow people to put "found" ads for free, check newspapers daily in case someone is trying to find you!

Contact "Animal Find" Organizations
Some communities have non-profit groups who have formed a network to assist people who have lost a pet. When you visit your local animal control shelter, ask if such a network exsists in your area. Try looking in the newspaper classified ads for these groups or ask at a pet store. If you use one of these services remember to give a donation so they can continue to help others. Some of these groups may charge a nominal service fee.

Check Animal Hospitals and Vet Clinics
If your pet was injured he or she may have been taken to a nearby veterinarian or animal hospital before being taken to an animal shelter.

Was Your Pet Stolen?
It is far more likely your pet has strayed from home than he or she has been stolen. If you have evidence that leads you to believe your pet was stolen, contact the police and the SPCA or an animal control agency. Permanent identification in the form of tattooing or a microchip implant can help authorities track your animal.

Don't Give Up!
Continue to search for your pet even when there is little hope. Some animals who have been lost for months have been reunited with their owners.


  1. Make sure your pet is really missing. Search your house from top to bottom. Double check everywhere. Call out your pet's name while searching and stop to listen for sounds.
  2. If you are sure your pet is not in the house, leave just one window or door open to one room. In this way your pet is prevented from returning and hiding in your house unnoticed. Also when returning from your search, only one room needs to be checked.
  3. Broaden the search, i.e. garage, garden and neighborhood. Ask children if your animal has been seen. Carry a pencil and notebook with tear out pages, to provide a telephone number where you can be reached.
  4. Telephone animal shelters, pounds, veterinary hospitals including the SPCA Hospital. Be prepared to identify your pet by supplying breed, color, age, sex, height, weight, eye color, type of tail, scars, limps, tattoos and anything else. Find a colour photograph if available.
  5. Whenever possible, check in person at different shelters, pounds, hospitals, etc., and ask them to check their found records, if any, as well.
  6. Place an ad in the lost and found in the newspaper, and check the found column.
  7. Place signs, accurately describing your pet, in laundromats, grocery stores, shop windows, shelters, pounds, hospitals, telephone poles, etc. Make sure your poster is eye catching. Make the telephone number bold. Provide a picture if possible.
  8. Contact radio stations to ascertain if they are prepared to broadcast lost animal notices.
  9. Make sure information corresponding to tattoo or licence is current and correct.
  10. Leave telephone numbers where you can be reached. Answer the telephone promptly. Keep the telephone from being engaged for long periods of time.
  11. If able, do a maildrop of posters in your area.
  12. Do not wait too long when you discover your pet is lost. It is vital that attempts to find your pet begin as soon as possible.
Pets with identification have a better chance of being returned home than those without identification.
Please be sure to identify your pet with either a tattoo, microchip or at least a collar with a tag.