How to find a lost pet.

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Cat wearing a Guardian Orb Lost Pet tracker on a collar
Make sure your pet wears a collar

In 2013, my mom’s beloved cat, Tom Kitty, went missing. It was quite the traumatic ordeal. As she left the vet’s office with Tom Kitty, his carrier door unlatched. Tom Kitty bolted across four busy lanes of traffic and into the woods. My heartbroken mother tried desperately to find her little Houdini.  A month later, my mother and kitty reconnected in a tearful reunion. Not everyone who has a lost pet experiences a happy ending. I wanted to share a few ways you can find a lost pet and hope it helps someone.

How to Find a Lost Pet

 

Ensure Your Pet Wears a Collar

Dog with collar

Put your pet’s name, phone number, and address on the collar. We found this pooch wandering around our yard back in Minnesota. Thankfully, the owner had all his vet’s contact information on the tag, including the dog’s name and a rabies vaccination code. The vet used that code to identify the dog and contact the owner.

Launch a Search and Rescue Mission

So, this one takes a little coordination. But you and your family or friends start going door-to-door in the neighborhood. Start looking at the last known location. When Tom Kitty came up missing, my mother drove all over the area looking for him. And, one of my friends launched a rescue team and slogged through the swamp where Tom Kitty disappeared. She spotted a cat resembling him. But, when she attempted to capture the bewildered stray, she received an angry scratch requiring medical attention for her efforts. I wish the Guardian Go would have been available then.

Post to Lost Pet Boards on Facebook

Don’t be afraid to utilize social media. We live in the woods, and it’s a haven for lost cats. Plus, I think they can smell a cat-lover a mile away. One time, I posted a photo to our local lost pet Facebook board because someone’s cat was camping out on our back porch. She wasn’t wearing a collar but was plump and well-fed. I posted her photo and, within hours, her owner contacted me to come and get her.

Ollie
When we found Ollie as a stray, I posted this photo on our local lost pet board.

Also, when an amiable and loquacious kitten jumped out of our garbage can, we figured he had to belong to someone. He was friendlier than most feral cats – and felt too comfortable making his way into our house! We went door-to-door, but nobody claimed him. And, I posted his photo to the lost pet board on Facebook. Despite many people sharing the post, however, we were unable to locate his owner. We adopted him and named him Ollie, as in Oliver Twist.

Also, do a web search for “How to find a lost pet.” You will find several hits for websites that specialize in locating lost pets. Some of them charge a fee.

Have your pet microchipped

Even though all of our cats stay indoors, we have them each microchipped. The vet uses a needle to implant a small chip in the back of their neck. While these devices aren’t GPS capable, if your pet gets picked up by animal control, they may scan him for a chip. The chip holds the owner’s contact information so they can contact you easily. Some brands even have a lost pet assistance program, but they charge a fee. But, many pets have reunited with their people – some up to a year later – thanks to microchips. Microchipping is especially crucial if your pet loses his collar during his escapades.

Call the Shelters and Vet Offices

Calling shelters works best in combination with the microchipping, but even if you do not chip your pet, call the vet offices and local animal control shelters. Give them a good description of your pet, fax them a photo, and if possible, visit. When we couldn’t find Ollie’s owner, we took him to the vet for scanning. Had he been chipped, he could have reunited with his owner.

I do recommend calling and visiting the animal control shelters as soon as possible. Many of them have short turn-around times before they euthanize a lost animal. If the cat or dog has health problems, is aging, or otherwise unadoptable, that limit is even shorter. While they are supposed to scan for a chip, people make mistakes. Be proactive and do not wait for a call from them.

Make Posters

Tom Kitty Lost Pet Poster
Tom Kitty Lost Pet Poster

When my mom’s cat went missing, I made this poster. I included two photos showing his face and back so people could identify markings. We added the date and last known location. And a reward. This part is optional, but some people need motivation, and I no longer recommend it. I also set my mom up a disposable Google voice number. We forwarded the number to her regular phone, so she didn’t have to post her number all over town – so this number doesn’t work now. Don’t worry! I’m not sacrificing my mom’s privacy for a blog post.

Next, we scattered posters on telephone poles and buildings where he went missing.  Some business owners were even kind enough to post a copy. A little over a month passed before we received news that someone found him. He made residence at a local fish market. Smart cat! My favorite program to create flyers and posters is Canva.com. But you can also just use a graphics editor on your computer.

*DISCLAIMER: Be wary of lost pet scams. If someone claims to have your pet but cannot give you essential details, act with caution. For this reason, I no longer recommend publicly offering rewards for pets.

How to find a lost pet. Several steps to help reunite you with your missing fur baby, and how to plan for the emergency.
How to find a lost pet. Several steps to help reunite you with your missing fur baby, and how to plan for the emergency.
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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

Latest posts by Alicia Taylor (see all)

Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

22 Comments

  • kellyhutchinson37920

    March 24, 2018 - 2:54 pm

    We have two cats and a dog and they stay indoors for the most part. One of the cats got out not too long ago and I almost had a panic attack. I thought she was lost for sure.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    March 19, 2018 - 10:26 pm

    I can only imagine the nightmare of losing a pet- hopefully these tips will prevent that from happening! Thank you for looking out for our furry family members!

  • Ruth I.

    March 19, 2018 - 8:29 am

    I’ve seen some posts on Facebook about lost pet and some got reunited with the owner. It would be great to have this, it will be much easier to find them this way.

  • Nicole Caudle

    March 16, 2018 - 11:00 pm

    Wow this seems like a really handy product! A must for anyone with pets!

  • TColeman

    March 16, 2018 - 10:41 pm

    Having a lost pet can be so scary! We have definitely been there and done that. These are some incredible tips to help you keep your cool.

  • Tiffany

    March 16, 2018 - 3:42 pm

    Great tips to find a lost pet. I would be so devastated if I lost my corgi. She means the world to me!

  • Ruthie Ridley (@RuthieRidley)

    March 16, 2018 - 2:11 pm

    Great tips!! I hope we never lose our black lab!! Its so scary!!!

  • Sarah Bailey

    March 15, 2018 - 1:43 pm

    This is such a great post, I can’t imagine how hard it must be when you have a pet which hasn’t come home. Sal used to run away a lot but always came home not so long after, thankfully.

  • Aduke Schulist

    March 15, 2018 - 11:13 am

    I could have used this recently when my dog went missing. We scoured every street only to have him found about half a mile away by a man who returned him.

  • Kristi

    March 15, 2018 - 7:53 am

    Thank you for sharing these! I lost my precious kitty last year and would have loved to know about some of these things I could have done to help.

  • Crystal Carder

    March 15, 2018 - 5:20 am

    I never had to deal with a lost pet, but I can imagine how heart-wrenching it would be. These are all great tips for someone who has a pet.

  • tina grant

    March 14, 2018 - 10:05 pm

    Wonderful tips. Loosing a pet can be heart wrenching experience. The only time I lost my jack Russel was about 5 years ago. She was old almost 13 and deaf. She was gone 6 hours and I did most of what you had mentioned. Well come six o’clock ( dinner time for her) here she comes out of the closet, stretching and yawning. Since then the new rule was, only panic if she doesn’t appear for dinner. 🙂

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 15, 2018 - 3:15 pm

      Ha! I wish it was always that easy 🙂

  • Adriana

    March 14, 2018 - 9:57 pm

    Oh man, not being able to find your pet is heartbreaking. Afterall, pets are pretty much family members. I could not imagine what this would be like

  • Stacey Peters

    March 14, 2018 - 3:14 pm

    Pets are such an integral part of the family. I can’t imagine losing them. These are great tips to prevent and find a lost pet.

  • Tara

    March 14, 2018 - 1:39 pm

    losing a pet is my worst nightmare. I make sure all of mine are microchipped!

  • Kelly

    March 13, 2018 - 9:16 pm

    Microchips are so important. I would be devastated if I lost one of my fur babies, but you have provided some great tips on finding them 🙂

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 14, 2018 - 12:33 pm

      Microchips are important, but I’m looking forward to the Orb coming out. I think it will help recover pets faster than the microchip due to the GPS.

  • Emily Fata

    March 13, 2018 - 8:42 pm

    This looks like such a brilliant product! I’m always so terrified that my dog is going to escape somehow and I won’t be able to find her. I think I need to get the Guardian, if only just to feel better myself!

  • Ann F. Snook-Moreau

    March 13, 2018 - 5:07 pm

    Thankfully I have never lost a pet but these are all great tips on finding them again. Microchips have really changed the world for pet owners!

    • Alicia Taylor

      March 13, 2018 - 7:53 pm

      Yes – but I’m also interested in this new one that lets you find them with GPS. I think it will be a game changer.

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