Lost Pets: What to Do First
Bodton Terrier: Getty
We asked Petside’s Advisory Board members what to do first if your cat or dog is lost.
I know the very first thing most people do when they lose their beloved pet is panic. That’s not going to help you get your pet back. I recommend you always update pictures of your pet.
But the very first thing you should do is notify the police & your local animal facility, and then put together flyers with your pet’s picture, the pet’s name, and your phone number, and post them in high traffic areas and the area where your pet was lost.
I have strong feelings about the new product called Tagg, the Pet Tracker, which is actually a GPS that you attach to your pet’s collar, and in the event your pet wanders away, you can go on your smart phone or computer, and instantly locate your pet. This will be the way of the future.
Even the best of pet parents occasionally has a wayward pet, so don’t panic (or feel guilty) if this happens to you. Here are the places that I’ve called (and had success) when our Golden Retriever has gone off on his own adventure.
- The neighbors – We live in a dog-loving neighborhood and our dog is very social with three of the other dogs on the block. Once we found him playing with the neighbor’s dog who was out in the yard.
- The local police department – Dog-loving neighbors we don’t know have called the police to let them know they found a “very, loving, cute Golden Retriever” that was playing with their children in the yard. We knew immediately it was our dog Tucker.
- The local animal shelters – While we’ve never found Tucker at one of our local shelters, it’s always a possibility so make sure to check there as well.
- Our vet – Tucker has a microchip and is registered so if he is scanned someone should be able to bring us back together.
Another important tip is to prepare for this type of event ahead of time by doing the following:
- Have your dog micro-chipped as a puppy so a veterinarian with a scanner can help reunite you with him.
- Buy a collar that has his name and your phone number embroidered on it so someone can call you immediately.
- Get to know your neighbors and who have dogs. They are usually willing to help out if they know it’s your dog and see him loose. My kids and I have often rounded up the neighbors' 3 Cocker Spaniel puppies when they escaped from their yard and one good turn deserves another!
Losing a beloved companion animal is so heartbreaking!
Because I specialize in cats, my suggestions will be feline focused. Here are a few “first steps” that I encourage people to do when their cats are lost:
- Canvas the neighborhood. Go from door to door, talk to the neighbors. Leave posters with description of the cat in mailboxes, post the posters everywhere. When searching the neighborhood, investigate garages and other enclosed areas that cats can become trapped in.
- Call all of the local humane societies and provide them with a detailed description of the cat and where and when he/she was last seen.
- Buy, borrow or rent a humane trap (Havahart is a popular brand) and set it up near the last place the cat was seen. Bait it with the cat’s favorite treat
- Use the internet, such as Craig’s List to post description of the cat. Broadcast everywhere… frequently.
Nancy Taylor, President and CEO, Bideawee: Assuming that your pet is microchipped, the first call you should make is to your microchip company. (And each time your address, phone number or email address changes you should update the company).
After that, you should call your area's municipal shelter (and if that municipal shelter is a large one you should go there in person), as well as the humane society, veterinarians and local rescue groups to report the loss of your pet and provide a detailed description including any quirks that may be unique to your pet. It's recommended to have digital photos accessible in advance of this happening. Don't forget digital channels like Facebook, Twitter and Craig's List.
Simultaneously you need to search your neighborhood, knock on your neighbors' doors and post flyers that include: a photo, description, information about when and where he or she was last seen, and your own contact information. After that, don't despair and keep looking!
I've heard from lots of folks that were reunited with their pets after many weeks. "Dogged" persistence often pays off.