We know losing your pet is a heart-wrenching experience, but don’t lose hope! Although it may take time to find your pet, there are many things you can do to make it more likely that you’ll be reunited with them. Acting right away will improve the odds of finding them, and here are our best tips to help you:
If your pet has a microchip, make sure the information is up to date, and then contact the microchip company to report your pet as lost. Often, these organizations will send emails to local pet owners about your missing animal.
Search your house and yard meticulously several times a day. Although it may seem unlikely that your pet could be “missing” but still so close to home, they may be physically stuck somewhere or afraid to come out of hiding. The outdoors can be very scary for animals who don’t frequently spend time there! If your lost pet has a favorite toy or treat, try using it to coax them closer.
Many lost pets don’t wander far unless chased away. Walk or drive through your neighborhood slowly, showing neighbors and mail carriers photos of your pet. Animals might be scared when they’re lost and seek out hiding places nearby. Check under shrubs and ask your neighbors to look under their porches, sheds, and garages. Dogs usually look for vacant spaces and leave their hiding spot at night to search for food, while cats don’t typically stray far but find hiding spots that may be harder to locate and access.
Next, contact local shelters, animal control, and veterinary hospitals. Call shelters daily and check their websites regularly to see if your pet shows up.
Use technology to get the word out to as many people as possible. Alert neighbors about your lost pet on sites like NextDoor, apps like Ring, or on lost pet Facebook groups. Email information about your lost pet to friends, coworkers, and family members asking them to forward it to anyone they can. You can even create your own Facebook page for your lost pet and share it across your own social network. We also recommend posting on Petco Love Lost. Using facial recognition software, your pet’s picture is scanned against photos of rescued shelter animals and those reported by people in your area.
Hang flyers near where your pet was lost. Start with a big headline that can be read from far away, like “LOST DOG” or “MISSING CAT,” and use a bright poster board with a good quality, recent photo. Display only the most essential information, such as a description of what your pet looks like, their breed, your contact information, and when and where they were last seen. Try posting at dog parks, pet supply stores, veterinary offices, and high-traffic locations like grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. When possible, hang them at kids’ eye level so children can help, too!
Offering a reward is an option, but you’ll need to protect yourself from scams. Consider it a red flag if someone asks you to wire, Venmo, Cash App, etc. money before you have your pet back in your arms.
If you decide to attempt trapping your pet, you can borrow a trap from local animal welfare organizations or purchase one at a home improvement or pet store. Depending on the location of the trap and the food that you use to entice your pet to get inside, you may trap other animals. You’ll want to check the trap regularly and be prepared to release a wild animal from it if you accidentally trap one.
Remember, identification can be lifesaving. It’s a good idea for all of your pets, even those who are living indoors only, to have a collar and ID tag with contact information. If you microchip your pet, keep in mind that if you move or change your phone number, you need to submit an update right away. Most shelters and veterinarian offices can implant the microchip, and most have the scanners needed to read them. Following these simple steps can make a huge difference in reuniting animals with their loving owners.