Finding a Lost Pet

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 10:15am

More pets are lost on the Fourth of July than any other time of year. It’s a heartbreaking scenario for pet parents, but swift action and major networking can increase the odds that you will be reunited with your cat or dog.

We recently surveyed more than 1,000 households with pets across the country to find out if they had lost a dog or cat in the past five years—and if they did, did they find that pet and where did they look?

Of those pet guardians surveyed, 15 percent had lost a dog or a cat in the past five years, and 85 percent of those lost dogs and cats were recovered.

The study's findings suggest the following are key when recovering a lost pet:

  • Searching immediately when one knows the pet is lost;
  • Searching within the neighborhood first through visual searches as well as posters and online; and
  • Checking local shelters from the first day your pet is lost.

If your pet is lost, it’s important not to panic. Enlist the help of all of your friends and neighbors and hit the streets! Read our extended article on Finding a Lost Pet for more information and helpful hints.

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A few more tips. Our humane society has "Lost Pet" forms to complete; there are separate notebooks for cats and dogs. Fill out a form immediately. There is a recording of lost and found pets at our local SPCA, but it's not always accurate, so ideally, check *all* rooms of the shelter daily. Try to post a flyer at a local business that gets a lot of foot traffic, like a food market. Go door to door in your neighborhood; most people are very sympathetic and want to help. Finally, when your pet is found, let everyone know soon as possible,especially the humane society and rescue group(s), write "FOUND!" on flyers in public places, then take down flyers a few days later.

We are devastated over the loss of our 3 cats while on a road trip from Texas back home to the San Diego area. We had some engine trouble and had to pull over several times, it was dark and at some point while we were pulled over at one of the rest stops they got out of one of the camper windows.
These pets are indoor cats and have never been away from us!! I live in california so I can't go to the shelters every day, I spend hours everyday on line looking at pictures from the shelters and recue places, but it is so hard to tell by some of the photos? I don't know what else to do?!
If anyone can help me with this please call at760-504-8932 or 760-504-9274 or email me at [email protected]
Thank You,

Another thing to do is Put a POSTER or SIGN in front of your home/with picture if possible. People will notice this sign and are more likely to be more aware of your lost pet if in their area.


Make sure that the signs/fonts are big enough so that passing cars can read the most important facts: "Lost Dog/Cat, Black/Tan Poodle" and a phone number.

Also, signs at intersections are good because you get more traffic looking at your info. Best of luck!

Michelle May

My cat slinked right out the door TWICE yesterday...and keeps crying to go back out there! Thank you for these wonderful tips! We live on a busy road and I'm terrified that he'll dart into the street! Luckily yesterday he was slow enough to be grabbed! Maybe it's time for a Harness and leash so he can go out and be protected!


I was informed that many cats have strangled themselves with cat collars. Try to find the break way so they csan get out if stuck on a branch or whatever. Micro chips work great.


Definitely use a break-away cat collar, and watch your cat the whole time he is outside. I had my cat on a leash attached to his collar and to the back porch. I ducked inside for a minute & came out to find the cat's collar and leash hanging from the neighbor's fence - he had climbed up and jumped - luckily the break-away collar broke away & I found him sitting in the neighbor's yard. The break-away collar saved his life.


I lost my dog last summer and she was gone for 4 months. Fortunately she was microchipped. The company provided a lost pet poster with their number on it. After 4 longs months of searching, I put those posters out just a little further in my radius and we got a call from the service stating that my dog was living in someone's house -- she had been picked up and taken home. Thank goodness for that system! Also, there are services for amber alerts, too, which we used initially and my neighbors were thrilled to know it existed. I got a lot of calls from neighbors with tips on loose dogs. All I can say is I am very grateul for the community search and the services that are available.

Jan N.

Truly good info! Thanks. I nearly lost my cat in a condo back to back neighborhood, and very hard to find it, and I was not in proper clothing but I ran out and found her fairly quickly. It is so DICEY with cats, they can slip through a sliding door when I go out to water the plants...etc..! yikes.


I think it's an excellent idea to have a chip put in their leg this way, if they are lost, it's easy for them to type in this code or what ever and it will locate the dog right away. We have chips in our four legged loyal loving pets but still keep a close eye on them at the same time. I see so many stray animals walking around lost or confused because they have wondered away from home and the first thing I want to do is grab them, put her/him in my back yard with a six foot fence that surrounds the whole back yard until we locate their owner/s. The last thing I or anywone else want's to see is their loved one hit by a car.