Help! My Pet's Missing!
If your pet disappears, here's what to do.
Check the house. Look in, around and outside your home or the area where you last saw your pet. Rattle favorite toys and treats and call for your pet.
WHN Expert Tip: Look Immediately!
"Don't wait and assume it'll return home on its own. Be sure to look in a 2-block radius because the cat or dog could be scared or hiding." Barbara Baugnon, Oregon Humane Society
Let people know your pet is missing. Tell them when you last saw your pet and what your pet looks like. Ask neighbors, service providers (letter carriers, garbage collectors, etc.) or passers-by if they've seen your pet.
Place strong home-scented items outside in your yard such as recently worn clothing, the pet's bedding, the cat's litter box, cooked meat, treats, etc. Animals find their way by scent.
If your pet is a rescue pet, call that organization. Many times, they put out calls to fellow "rescuers'" in your neighborhood who will immediately begin looking for your pet.
Make a descriptive list of your pet's features (these will be important to know when trying to locate your pet):
- Weight, size
- Color of fur and eyes
- Male or female (also, neutered or spayed)
- Type and color of collar
- Marks, scars, spots
- Tag, tattoo and microchip I.D. numbers
- Medical problems
Make copies of your pet's most recent photo to give to shelters and local authorities. You can also scan the photo to add to "Lost Pet" poster.
Make Daily Calls
Contact local animal control services to see if they've found your pet and where they may have taken him or her.
Contact your local and state animal shelters. Consider visiting the shelters to see if your pets have been found. Provide a picture of your pet and contact number at each shelter.
Call local animal rescue organizations in your area each day. If your pet is a purebred, contact the breed-specific rescue groups.
Call veterinary offices during the day and call emergency animal hospitals at night.
If your pet has a microchip implant, notify the company.
If you believe your pet was stolen, contact the police or sheriff to file a police report.
Contact the local and state department of transportation in case your pet was hit by a car.
WHN Expert Tip: Smaller Communities
"Live in a smaller community? Consider putting an ad on the local radio stations about your missing pet." Leslie Rocky – Colorado Animal Rescue Center, Glenwood Springs CO
Make "Lost" signs or flyers, using bright colors and big lettering to attract attention, with the the pet's name, photo, descriptive markings or scars and your contact number. Hang these in the area where your pet was last seen, high enough for drivers to see.
Consider offering a reward.
WHN Expert Tip: Stay Close
"When putting up flyers aim for at least a 3-block radius of your home – pets tend to stay closer to home." Karen Sands – Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, KS
Put a "Lost" ad in your local newspaper and publications as well.
WHN Tip: Don't put your home address or last name on the flyer or in the ad. That might attract the wrong type of attention. Instead use your first name and cell number.
Check the "Found" ads in local newspapers, publications and online.
Celebrate Its Return
Check it over immediately for any injuries.
If your pet has injuries or appears to be sick, be very careful handling it. Even if it knows you, your pet may bite and scratch you, due to fear and pain.
Use a blanket to cover and wrap the animal before you try to move it. This will help prevent injury to you and the animal.
Take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Notify the agencies you've been calling that your pet is back home.
Take down all the flyers you posted.
WHN Tip: "I've Found Your Pet"
If you do not know the person, meet in a public place such as a church or store parking lot during the day. Bring someone with you to pick up your pet. If you offered a reward, consider bringing that with you when you pick up your pet.
If A Shelter Or Animal Control Center Finds Your Pet
Ask when and where to pick up your pet
Ask if there are any fines or fees for boarding while the pet was there.
WHN Tip: If your pet is found and the tags or vaccinations aren't up to date, you could be charged a fine.
Don't delay. Shelters and other facilities might only keep the animal for a limited time. After that, the pet may be put up for adoption, given to another organization or euthanized.
WHN Expert Tip: "If the shelter has spayed or neutered your pet or installed a microchip, you will probably have to pay for those services." Barbara Baugnon, Oregon Humane Society
WHN Tip: If your pet tends to "slip its collar" leaving it behind on the chain, add a second one with all the ID information.
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