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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Ola Ayers

GPS Pet tracking


I had great advice years ago from a coworker who had hunting dogs.He said leave several pieces of dirty laundry on your back porch.The dogs will pick up the scent.This has worked twice for me over the last 15 years with two different dogs.This happened with two different types of dogs both of which had been missing for several days.


Whenever my cat Milo has gotten out, I can't find him for 2 to 3 weeks sometimes. I know he is probably hiding out somewhere on my property, as lost animals usually are.
What I alway do is get a humane trap and put food in it. Eventually, sometimes as long as three weeks later, Milo gets hungry and enters the trap. I have suggested to people with lost pet ads, to put a humane trap out, because it is likely their pet is also hiding out somewhere on their property and will eventually get hungry.


recently we lost our indoor cat. I was told to put his cat box outside. In three days, he came home. It works!

David Hildebrand

Do you love your pet? Micro chip. My wife and I have rescued many dogs and not a one has had a chip. We find homes for them, but wish we could get them back to their owners.


As an animal control officer, this is my advice:
1. Make sure your pet is micro-chipped, and make sure you activate the chip! Many people I deal with tell me that their pet was micro-chipped at the shelter they adopted it from, but they don't realize that they need to call the 1-800 number on the pamphlet they received in order to update the information associated with that particular chip.
2. Keep your micro-chip account updated when you move or change phone numbers!
3. Register your dog with your town. Even if a dog gets loose without a collar, I can sometimes narrow down the owner by searching our registered dog files for the breed, color, and streets near where it was found.
4. Make sure your pet's collar fits well and has tags. I find many dogs with collars but no tags, or dogs that have slipped their collar.
5. Even if your pet is registered, I recommend getting customized tags engraved with your address and phone number. Some towns may not have the means to search their files by registration number, so the registration tag is no good for identifying the dog without the owner's last name. If there is a tag with the owner's name and number, we can just call them directly and save the dog a trip to the shelter.
6. If your pet gets lost, contact your local shelter and shelters in surrounding counties. Sometimes dogs cross town lines into areas where the animal control officer or citizens take it to a different shelter than the one covering your town. This is especially common in towns that border counties.
7. Contact your local animal control officer. This seems like a given, but I see posters and ads all the time for animals lost in my town that I've never been notified about. Most animal control officers will have a record of animals that they pick up, dead or alive.
8. Keep updated pictures of your pets. If they go missing, make fliers and place them in visible areas. Often, especially with cats, animal lovers think that the dog or cat that they picked up in the street is a genuine stray or an abandoned animal. These folks just keep the animal indefinitely without bring it to me or a shelter because they think it will just be euthanized, and neither myself, shelters, or the owner ever know that the pet has been found. If you put up posters, at least these good samaritans may see that the animal they found does indeed have a home.

Michael ward

Many people do not think of giving a photo of the pet to the local mailman. he is in the area every day and drives somewhat slowly between houses. he can be on the lookout for the pet. A neighbor did it and the mailman did see him and notify owner. happy ending.

karen anderson

I had a horrible experience with a pitbull I was taking care of. So many things went wrong that day... Springtime, winds, rain. The outcome was as bad as could be... hit and killed by car. The only "good" thing was that I found her (dead of course). I don't have much more to offer aside from what has been posted exept to say... be mindfull in Springtime... lot's of newborn wild animals, etc. KA


I see so many people in our neighborhood, almost always small dogs, that the owner takes them out unleashed! It is not only unsafe for their dogs but it is the law! What if their dog runs away or jumps in front of a car. I have a larger rescue dog that is not dog freindly and I dont know how many times I had to pull her away from an unleashed dog running after her. I tell them, whos fault would it be if my dog bit your dog? Yours is unleashed and they could also get seriously hurt in so many other ways. It is pure neglect, please leash your dogs, it could save their lives!!


Be particularly careful when you are moving: from now on I will make sure my cats stay in a room with the door closed when going back and forth from house to truck. Once one of my 2 Siamese disappeared as I was moving out, cats do get stressed when all their world gets upset. As she did not come back for a couple of days, I asked to keep my keys and "camped" in my empty old apartment every night, also made sure to leave a bunch of her things on the patio and water and food. I also brought her sibling with me. After a week or so, one night I finally heard her voice calling from a bush in from of the house, she was just very scared and would not let anyone catch her. After that she never stepped away father than a few feet from the house for her next 16 years and was generally much less kamikaze than her sister