According to the Humane Society it is estimated that 6 – 8 MM pets enter shelters each year.  Many of them are owner surrenders, but many of these pets have simply gotten lost for a variety of reasons.  It is estimated that 1 in 3 family pets will get lost in their lifetime.  In addition, according to Petfinder.com, as many as 2 million animals are stolen each year!

What Should You Do If Your Dog Goes Missing?  Lost Dog, Lost Cat, Lost Pet, How to find a lost dog
A beautiful Lab that ended up in our animal shelter

If the unthinkable should happen and your pet disappears, time is of the essence so act quickly.  Spend a couple of hours searching the area where your pet was last seen, but if you can’t find her, here are some steps you should take.

  • If your pet is micro-chipped contact the recovery service right away to alert them that she is missing.  They may be able to assist in recovery by alerting area shelters and vets.

  • You should have good quality updated photos of your pet, especially when traveling.  Photos should clearly show your pet's face and body and should be in color, a black and white photo isn’t very effective.   Create flyers with color photos, details of your pet, and contact information.  Pass them out to all the neighbors within 10 or 20 blocks.  That way neighbors will have the photo to refer to if they should see your pet.  Post them in grocery stores, area veterinary offices, and other central places near where your dog went missing. 

  • When you search the area check schools, malls, wooded areas, yards, and places with sheds or barns they might use for shelter.  Check areas that may be appealing to a dog or cat to hide in or get fresh water, shade or warmth.  Try to think like your pet and check places or routes they may recognize.  As you search, call her name, use a favorite squeaky toy & make other familiar noises.

  • Go online and post quality color photos and details about your lost pet.  You can post on Petfinder.com, Craigslist, your local newspaper web site, Fidofinder.com, and other sites.  Do a “lost and found dogs or cats” search online to locate other sites you can post photos and details on.  Also check the Found Dog or Cat sections to see if someone has listed your pet as found.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Goes Missing?  Lost Dog, Lost Cat, Lost Pet, How to find a lost dog
3 little dogs that ended up in the animal shelter

  • Use your social media network to communicate that your pet is lost on Facebook and other social media channels you use to connect with family and friends.  Get the kids and all their friends involved in this!

  • Check ALL the animal shelters in a the area, even those that are not closest to you.  You never know which shelter a pet may be brought to, it often depends on which shelter has the most available kennel space.  Pets sometimes get transferred to different shelters as space availability changes.  Post flyers on the shelter's Lost/Found wall and try to talk to staff and volunteers if possible.
  • Many fabulous shelter staff comb through lost pet sites online in an attempt to find an owner if there are no updated tags or microchip.  This usually works when your pet has unique attributes or is an uncommon breed.  There are likely many, many listings for lost Golden Retrievers that look very alike.  However, a listing for a lost Komondor would probably be very unique!

  • Post signs throughout the area, especially near stop signs and traffic lights.  Don’t use white 8.5” by 11” paper, most of us can’t see them from a car!  Buy larger pieces of oak tag in Bright or Neon colors.  Post a color photo of your pet with details and contact info in black magic marker in large print.  Don’t cheap out, have color photos printed!

  • Some people have had success using a "scenting" method. This is where you drop a trail of items with your scent or your dog's scent on it near where he was last seen before your dog got lost. This can be small items of clothing or a blanket, a recently used toy, or even treats you've rubbed your scent all over. However, be aware that treats could be eaten by other animals so use them along with other scent items. 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Goes Missing?  Lost Dog, Lost Cat, Lost Pet, How to find a lost dog
Rudy, one of my foster dogs napping in the sun in our yard.  He came into the shelter in pretty bad shape.  You can read Rudy's Story here. 

It takes a village to find a lost dog or lost cat, so make sure you spread the word and enlist the help of everyone you can think of in your search!

Sharing is caring, so if you have additional tips for finding a lost pet, please share them by posting a comment!


Jackie Bouchard said...

Great tips! There was a dog that went missing in our 'hood a few weeks ago. (Escaped the yard while no one was home during a freak thunderstorm - we never get those here!) The folks put up BIG signs everywhere, and he finally made it back home!

Tenacious Little Terrier said...

I've heard asking the delivery people to keep an eye out can be useful too. As well as kids from the neighborhood.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm SO happy to hear he made it back home! Thanks for sharing the story, & that using large signs everywhere helped. Thanks for stopping by Jackie!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Excellent ideas! Definitely delivery people and kids can be so helpful, they always know what's going on in the 'hood! Thanks for stopping by!

Two French Bulldogs said...

Always have a plan. Mom would lose it
Lily & Edward

Unknown said...

Very good information! Thanks for sharing an impawtant topic!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yup! You've gotta have a plan! Thanks for stopping by Lily & Edward.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Jenna! Always good to be prepared BEFORE something tragic happens.

Lara Elizabeth said...

Wonderful post. This is a very real fear of mine as my little Ruby is a flight risk. We have extra-secure equipment, she is micro-chipped and wears collar or harness ID, and most importantly I am working on that life-saving recall but she is a tough one.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! You are doing all the right things, I'm so happy Ruby is microchipped; that is critical. Any vet or shelter can scan for a chip. Keep practicing the recall, and add the Wait command too, so she doesn't door dash. She's lucky to have a responsible owner! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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