Lost & Found Pet Tips

If you Lost a Pet

Time is critical to a successful lost pet recovery.  If you have lost a cat or dog, here are some basic tips to help you recover your pet.


• Identification

A collar with an identification tag, and a microchip (available through your veterinarian’s office), can help you recover your missing cat or dog quickly.  Even indoor-only cats should wear a breakaway collar with tags.


• Target search area Search your property and the immediate surrounding area of the pet’s home (or the location where the pet went missing).  Get permission from your neighbors to search their yards and look for every possible area where your pet may be hidden or injured.  Cats tend to stay within a five-house radius of their home territory, while dogs may wander farther.  Be aware that a displaced or injured cat will hide quietly and is unlikely to move about or make noise.

• Humane trap For lost cats, use a humane trap baited with food, and be prepared to wait for several days (check the trap daily). 


• Neon Posters  Put up large neon posters within a three-quarter mile radius of your home for a lost dog. For a lost cat put up large neon posters within several blocks of point of escape. To be effective, make your neon posters out of the largest sheet of fluorescent poster board you can find.  Use a black Magic Marker and write “REWARD” at the top and “LOST DOG” or “LOST CAT” at the bottom.  Use a sheet protector to put your 8x11 flyer in using clear packing tape tape the sheet protector in the center of the large neon poster.  You poster flyer should consist mostly of a picture of your cat, your phone number and include the words “Skittish Do Not Chase” if your pet is skittish. Use a cell phone to follow up on leads and ask callers to stay on the line to direct you to any sightings. Make sure you write down each sighting, callers name, date & time of day the sighting came in.

• Shelters and rescue groups Contact your local animal control agencies, shelters, humane societies, breed rescue groups (if applicable), and veterinarian offices to report that you have lost a pet. Ask for their fax number or an email address so you can send them a flyer of your lost pet.  Provide as complete a description of your pet as possible, including where and when the pet was lost, and a contact number where you can be reached.  Visit the facilities in person to search for your pet as they may not have the resources to walk through the kennel areas and look for a missing pet.


• Craigslist ads Place an ad in the Pets Lost & Found section and the Pet section.


• Newspaper ads  Place an ad in local and out-of-area newspapers (lost pets, especially dogs, may wander or be transported out of your area).  Check the “found pet” ads in the newspapers.

• Internet resources   Take advantage of local lost pet websites and national websites such as,,, and


• Safety Never pay out a reward until you have your pet in hand.  If someone refuses to hand over your pet until you pay the reward, call the police.  Bring another adult with you when you pick up your pet, take along a cell phone, and let other people know exactly where you are going.


• Persistence Lost and missing pets may be recovered weeks or even months after their disappearance.  Keep up your search efforts!



If you Found a lost pet

First and foremost, think LOST not stray!  Assume that the pet’s owner is out there looking for the pet, and don’t assume the pet has been abused or neglected.  Even the most beloved cat or dog can escape from a home, yard or car, and a lost pet that is displaced from its home territory is likely to appear shy, fearful, or mistrustful. 

Here are some simple steps you can take to help a lost pet find its way home again.

• Ask your veterinarian to scan the pet for a microchip

• Contact your local animal control agencies, shelters, humane societies, breed rescue groups (if applicable), and veterinarian offices to report that you have found a pet.  Provide a description of the pet, where and when the pet was found, and a contact number where you can be reached.  Fax or email them a flyer of the found pet

• Put a “found pet” on Craigslist under the Pets Lost & Found section and the Pet section


• Put up a few large found neon posters

Note: Credit to the above information goes to Kat Albrecht of Missing Pet Partnership.