6 Actionable Ways to Find Your Lost Pet

Published September 21, 2022
Lost Dog Poster

If your best friend has gone missing, you're understandably panicked. According to a survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 90 percent of lost pets are found, which means there's a great chance you'll be reunited with your little one. With prompt action and these valuable resources, you can help find your lost pet.

Locate Your Lost Pet

With so many worries running through your head, you may not know where to start when trying to find your lost pet. Follow these steps as a plan of action to increase your chances of a safe return.

Begin Searching

Actively begin looking for your pet as soon as you notice they're missing. Search around your home, neighborhood, or wherever you last saw them. Remember to bring treats with you, so you can lure them out of any hiding places, as well as a leash to secure them when you do find them. The sound of kibble in their bowl or a favorite squeaky toy can also help.

Call your pet in a calm, loud voice using their name and other words they often respond to, like "Treat." Although it might be challenging to stay calm given how you're feeling, it's important to avoid calling them in a frantic voice, because this could frighten them further. Don't hesitate to call on neighborhood friends or loved ones to help you search; the more area you can cover, the better.

It's also wise to search your home to make sure your pet isn't hiding "in plain sight." It's possible they found a fun new crevice to explore or got spooked and hid behind an appliance. Check around the exterior of the house as well in case your pet made their way home but couldn't get inside.

Contact Your Microchip Provider

If your dog or cat has a microchip, you should then call the microchip provider. This way you can make sure the contact details they have on file are up to date in case someone finds your pet and tries to call you. A lot of microchip registries also offer pet recovery services, so there's a chance they can help in finding your pet. For example, HomeAgain will send lost pet alerts out to their entire network if you report your pet missing.

Not sure which microchip your pet has? If you have their microchip number, you can plug it in to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Microchip Registry Lookup search engine to try to determine which company it was enrolled through.

Post on Social Networks

To quickly get the word out about your missing pet, it's a good idea to share their disappearance through your social network accounts. This way, local friends can keep an eye out for your pet. Make your post is shared publicly so they can reshare it. Be sure to include a current, high-quality photo of your little one, any identifying information that will help people recognize them, notes about their personality, and your phone number.

If you'd like to offer a reward for their return, include that too. But don't just post on your own feed; make sure you post to lost pet groups, too. Simply search for your city or county name and "lost pets" on Facebook to find local groups.

Woman with red hair looking on screen of her mobile phone

Start Dialing

Next, call local veterinary offices, animal control offices, and shelters in your area. Most rescuers will immediately call animal control after finding a dog or cat or bring them to a vet office to have them scanned for a microchip, so there's a chance your precious pet could be in one of those locations.

Describe your pet in detail and leave your contact information should your pet be brought in by a good Samaritan. Most shelters will allow you to file a missing pet report. Ask the veterinary offices if they'll share your missing pet with their network via email, social media, or flyers in the clinic lobby.

Put Up Flyers

Create flyers to hang around the neighborhood. Animal response experts suggest you have about five words and only five seconds to grab onlookers' attention and get your message across, so make the posters big.

Use large, bold lettering to display a message like "HELP FIND ME" or "LOST CAT." Include a clear photo of your beloved pet along with a short physical description (for example, "petite calico"), any notes about personality (for example, "do not chase," or "very timid"), your phone number, and whether you're offering a reward for your pet's return.

Laminate the posters or use sheet protectors to prevent them from becoming weathered. Then plaster them wherever you're permitted to: your neighborhood, nearby intersections, the dog park, a local groomer, pet store, post office, and coffee shops. The more people who see your pet's photo, the greater the odds of someone seeing them and bringing them home.

Consider an Animal Communicator

Depending on your comfort level with clairvoyance, you might feel called to enlist the help of a pet psychic to find your lost pet. These psychic animal communicators have been known to home in on what the missing pet is experiencing to find their location or even guide the pet home.

Best Online Resources to Find Lost Pets

In addition to posting on your social media networks, there are free online services that will help you find your lost pet. They'll allow you to create a listing, file a missing pet report, and some will even dispatch alerts to your local Neighborhood Watch. If you've found a pet, you can also use these resources to help reunite them with their owner.

  • Pet FBI: Pet FBI is a non-profit and extensive database for lost and found pets. They even have flyer templates.
  • Center for Lost Pets: Not only can you create a lost pet post on the Center for Lost Pets network, but they'll also notify you of any matches to reported found pets on the site.
  • Petco Love Lost: Run by Petco, Love Lost connects shelters, veterinary hospitals, and pet owners to locate lost animals.
  • NextDoor: NextDoor is a free neighborhood social platform through which you can create a post about your lost pet, then scroll through the Newsfeed to see if anyone has posted about seeing them.
  • Lost Dogs of America: Find your lost dog with the help of the Lost Dogs of America network and helpful resource articles.
  • Lost Cats of America: If you're looking for your feline friend, file a missing cat report through Lost Cats of America.
  • Fido Finder: In addition to creating a listing reporting your dog lost, Fido Finder will alert their Neighborhood Watch network in your area about your pet and alert their shelter partners.
  • Tabby Tracker: Use Tabby Tracker, the feline counterpart to Fido Finder, to locate your lost kitty.
  • Lost My Doggie: Listing a lost pet on Lost My Doggie is free, but they also offer packages that include Amber Alerts and Facebook ads.
  • PawMaw: Through PawMaw you can send free alerts, create a lost pet listing, and even create flyers to use around the neighborhood.
  • Craigslist: You might know Craigslist as the place where you can buy or sell items, but they also have a "lost & found" section where you can create a listing to notify locals about your missing pet.

Stay Positive While Searching for Your Lost Dog or Cat

You're likely feeling many things right now: fear, sadness, anger, and shock. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up, but don't give up hope. Remember to lean on your network of loved ones and neighbors for whatever support you need. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional help during this time if you're finding it difficult to cope. You're not alone, and everyone wants to see your special pet come home safe.

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6 Actionable Ways to Find Your Lost Pet