Lost and Found Pet Tips

Many People ask, what are some tips when I have lost or found a dog or cat or another kind of animal.  Here are some tips, we also have a comprehensive list of tips on our main site, www.lostandfoundhound.com.

Lost and Found Tips

Tip 1:     Search your property thoroughly and the property of the homes on either side of your home. Cats, small dogs, and other types of small pets can get into some pretty strange places.

Tip 2:     Walk around your neighborhood, talk to everybody, and leave your phone number and a picture of your pet with everyone that you come into contact.  Many print places have bulk order discounts for flyers or posters.  Hand out flyers to everyone and anyone and get small business cards printed to have at area stores or to hand to anyone you see.  If people are not home, leave a flyer on their front door.

Caution – It is against Federal law to leave flyers or any other un-stamped or un-postmarked material in someone’s mailbox.

If your neighborhood has a Facebook site or a homeowners email group, send a copy of your flyer via email to the neighbors and post to the Facebook account.  You may also want to post for neighboring communities.  The school bus driver may be able to help you with a neighborhood contact.

Whenever you set out on foot to search for your pet, take someone with you.

Don’t ever give out your full name or address. Scam artists and other criminals in our society can and will use this information against you and your family. Remember, it is never a good idea to publicize this information no matter what the reason may be.  If offering a reward, do not publicize the amount.

Tip 3:     When walking around your neighborhood, call your pet.  Use their name.  Call their name anywhere you go.  If your pet has a favorite “toy” that has a bell or makes a sound, bring it along and use it to help you make familiar noises.

Use a “Dog Whistle” to get your pet’s attention. The high-pitched sound from these whistles can carry up to a mile or more. Cats are attracted to this sound as well as dogs. ( Note: this whistle is the “silent” ultrasonic type, but has a simple adjustment that lowers the tone into the human audible range. Use this audible tone when searching for your pet because the sound will carry farther). Some Android or I-Phones have a dog whistle download. Familiarize your pet with the sound.

Have meaty smelling food and a familiar pet toy with you while calling your pet’s name.   Also have a flashlight to look in dark places.

Tip 4:     Place strong-scented articles outside your home to attract your pet.  Animals find their way by scent as well as sound.

Strong smelling  food such as tuna, sardines, or warm, freshly cooked chicken, liver, or other meat.  Be sure to protect the food if you can, so that other animals don’t eat it!

Tip 5:     Call local veterinarian offices during the day. After 5 PM, call veterinarian emergency clinics.  If an office has taken in or treated any animal that even remotely resembles your pet, VISIT THE OFFICE IN PERSON. Your description of your pet and their description of the same pet rarely match. YOU MUST GO SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Also ask them for the phone numbers of local rescue organizations. They generally keep a list and may even work with them.

Call each of the rescue organizations and ask for their help and find out if they have your pet. These groups generally network with each other and will pass the word about your lost pet.

Be sure to leave a flyer with each of the veterinary offices you visit.

Post your lost or found pet to Facebook on area Veterinarian Facebook sites as well as local animal rescue sites.

Tip 6:     Visit  your local Animal Control, humane societies, and animal shelters, including the ones in surrounding areas.   Many shelters have only a 72 hour hold period so it is imperative that you or someone who knows the pet well check shelters out.  Your description and that of someone answering the phone may be enitirely different.

Leave a flyer at the area shelter and post to their Facebook site if they maintain one.

Tip 7:     It is extremely important to post as MANY flyers as you can about your lost pet. From the point where your pet was last seen, place your posters within a 6-mile radius for cats and a 20-mile radius for dogs.   Flyers and posters are the fastest way to get the word out.  In addition, bandit signs and small business cards with a picture can help.

A flouroscent border poster board with a white poster inset with five main points..lost dog, beagle, picture, call phone, identifying mark to look for.  Tape these to a telephone pole with duct tape and do not be shy about how many you put up as well as where.  Put anywhere people will see and will call.

Don’t ever give up! Pets have been known to find their way back home after being lost for several months. Good luck!  Respond to All Sightings if at all possible, respond to every sighting in person.

In the event of PET THEFT, physical characteristics are often altered on purpose. If someone has stolen your pet, the thief may very well alter certain physical characteristics so the animal is less likely to resemble it original appearance in the hopes that if people should see the cat or dog, they will not be as quick to associate the animal’s description with a description seen on a “Lost Cat” or “Lost Dog” flyer they may have seen posted in the area.

Pet thieves will also make every attempt to tear down your “Lost Cat” or “Lost Dog” posters, so pay attention to posters that are repeatedly torn down or removed. If this does occur, enlist the aid of homeowner nearby, who can see the flyer from their place of residence. Ask them to keep an eye on your poster and tell them to call you immediately if they see someone removing your poster. Ask them to jot down the following things; a description of the person or persons, a description of the vehicle and if at possible, to get the license plate number, the time of day the poster was torn down, and anything else that strikes them as being unusual or peculiar about the person(s) or vehicle. If they happen to get a license plate number, immediately call your local law enforcement and report the incident.

Do not call the police unless you are able to get the vehicle license plate number, they cannot provide any assistance to you without this information.

TIP 8:     TAG YOUR CAR.  Take window paint and advertise your lost pet on your car.  It’s amazing how many people will see this and that this may trigger a memory of seeing your pet.

Tip 9:     Create a Facebook Page for your lost pet.  This will help get the word out and you will be amazed as to how many people will look for your updates.


A Few Words Of Caution

There are dangerous people in our society who prey upon victims by using “found” pets as a ploy.

NEVER respond to a “found” pet contact alone. Take a friend or two along with you.

Arrange to meet in a public place.

NEVER invite the person to your home unless you happen to know him or her well.

Beware of money scams. A common one is a person calls you claiming to be a long-haul trucker. He says he picked up your pet and is out of state now. He heard about your ad, flyer, etc. and says he will return your pet if you will pay to ship it home. This person does not have your pet, he is only trying to take your money. Don’t wander around looking for your pet alone, either during the day or at night. Always bring a friend or relative. This is especially important in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Use the identifying information you have withheld about your pet. Please remember that you should never give out all of the identifying features of your lost pet. If the person who claims to have found your pet cannot describe these features to you, he or she does not have your pet!  Beware of recent scams offering scent dogs to help you locate your pet.  There are very few groups like these and your local SPCA would be able to recommend to you a pet search service.

Protecting your pet now

Safeguard your pets before they are lost by following the common-sense tips below. Pet-proof your yard fence so your cat or dog will be safely confined. Be sure to check your fence regularly for new escape routes. Keep fence gates securely locked. This is for the safety of both your pet and any visitors (wanted or unwanted). Never allow your pets to roam free in the neighborhood. Leash them at all times. Always transport a cat in a carrier. Never take your cat to the vet or anywhere else unless it is secured. A carried cat can bolt and hide if frightened by loud noises. When a cat is frightened in strange surroundings, especially with traffic noise around, it will hide and will not come to you. The same goes for dogs. Always leash them when taking them anywhere. If a dog gets loose in an unfamiliar area its chances of ever finding its way home are practically impossible.

Get some good photos of your pet now, before it’s too late.   Take close-up shots so that details show up well.  Keep taking shots until you get a few good ones that really look like your pet. Most snapshots of pets look like any other cat or dog.

These photos will be invaluable to you later if your pet is ever lost.

Train your pet (cat or dog) to associate a “Dog Whistle” with pleasant things. Blow the whistle each time just before you feed them. They will then be more likely to come running to you when you use the whistle to find them when they are lost.

Ensure that YOU can be located if your pet is found.   Always keep a collar on your pet with a tag that has your CURRENT PHONE NUMBER on it.   If you have moved, be sure to update the info on the microchip as well as on their tag.  Always have a CURRENT rabies tag and pet license tag attached to your pet’s collar. You can be found by the number on the tags.

MICROCHIP YOUR PET AND BE SURE THAT THE MICROCHIP IS REGISTERED. www.petmicrochiplookup.org is a great site to see if your chip is registered.

A collar and phone tag are the most important form of ID you can have for your pet.  Microchip too.

It is absolutely vital that your pet have a CURRENT rabies tag on it at all times!  If a county happens to be under a “Rabies Alert” or a “Rabies Quarantine” and your pet is picked up without a current rabies tag, they WILL kill your loved one! It’s a public health issue, so you will have no recourse.


  • If the pet you have found has a rabies tag, you can call an area vet and they should be able to help you identify the veterinarian practice that immunized the pet.  Their home Dr. should be able to help you locate the owners.
  • Many pets are now microchipped.  Take the pet to an area Vet and they can scan the pet for a microchip which will provide the owner info.
  • Many shelters are overcrowded and have a 72 hour hold period and then they can euthanize the pet.  Prior to calling animal control, check out their policy.  There are several no kill shelters that may be willing to take the pet if you are unable to.  If the pet is a specific breed, contact the local rescue for that particular breed.
  • Post signs and advertise in the newspaper that you have found a pet.  The person who lost a pet may not be as tech savvy as you.
  • Thank you for looking for the owner.  Many find pets and do little, the fact that you are here says a lot about your care and compassion for animals.

Good luck in your search and remember, http://www.lostandfoundhound.com is here to help.