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We know how devastating it is when a pet goes missing or when you find a lost dog or cat and don’t know what to do next. There are apps and websites that can help. We hope this information will be a one-stop guide about everything that you can do to help find your pet or return a pet to its owner.

Lost a Pet
Search your property thoroughly.

If your pet is lost make sure you look around your house and property. Make sure you look in your garage, and any outdoor sheds or buildings. If the animal is a cat, check your attic, cabinets, box springs, boxes or any other potential hiding place.

Contact the microchip company.

Is your pet microchipped? You’ll want to contact the microchip company to make sure your information is current and that the chip is activated. This information is also important when making flyers to share with the community. Need to microchip your pet? 

Try to attract your pet.

Leave food, water outside along with your pet’s bed, and a worn article of your clothing. These things may help your pet find it’s way home. Leave gate open

Ask your neighbors.

Go door to door asking if any of your neighbors have seen your pet and alerting them to be on the lookout. It is helpful to have a photo of your pet that you can leave with your neighbors. You can also post on the Nextdoor website and include pictures. Post on the neighbors app this is connected to the ring cameras.

Post lost flyers.

Make flyers to hang up in your neighborhood and at bus stops. Remember that most people will try to read the flyer from their car, so keep it simple with a photo and use a large font that says LOST DOG or LOST CAT with your contact information. Consider offering a reward. PetFBI Lost & Found can help you make a flyer and they’ll send it out to a network of animal welfare businesses. Distribute the small flyers in the neighborhood to the following; neighbors, mailmen, garbage men, joggers, kids, crossing guards, schools, parks, trails.  Put your posters in sheet protectors to protect during inclement weather then post to utility poles at important intersections, Secure to utility poles with shipping tape

Check lost & found ads daily.

Check the “Lost & Found” ads daily. 

Social Media is an amazing resource.

​Post on your personal facebook page, post on the facebook lost dogs sites, there are many of them.

Petco Love Lost

Petco Love Lost matches pictures of lost dogs and cats, or found pets with new shelter arrivals to reunite them with their owners.

Visit your local city animal shelter.

Visit your local shelter and all other neighboring animal shelters. Bring your flyers and any other information that helps to identify your pet. It is important to check the shelters because if a chip does not read you only have 3 days to claim.

Don’t give up and keep looking!

It is not unusual for someone to keep a lost pet for a few weeks while they search for the owner and then turn the animal into a local shelter.

After Day 1:
Tracking sightings on your lost dog
  • If calls with sightings, post lots of flyers in that area

  • Keep track of locations and dates (noting areas with signs and sightings on a map)

  • Increase range of posting 1 mile a day

  • Devise a strategy — Use Google maps. Note brush, water, forests. Divide into zones A,B,C,D- Check Satellite photos to see paths dog cold travel like railroad tracks, jogging trails, or other paths of least resistance

More Tips and Tricks for Finding a Lost Dog
  • Order yard signs. Ask people in the area where your dog was sighted for permission to post.(Use a search engine to locate sign companies)

  • Order a banner to hang in your front yard.

  • Try “Moving Billboards”, people holding signs at intersections, for more visibility

  • Concentrate search by car or foot in early morning 5 am to 8 am and evening 6-9pm

  • Talk to all fast food staff in the area on different shifts.

  • If you suspect your dog is in a certain area, set up a portable grill and cook something aromatic (Obtain any necessary permission first!)

  • Think creatively to get word out about missing dog

    • Community Newsletters

    • Community Facebook page

    • Bus stops

    • Gas stations

    • Dog Parks

    • Fast-food places/restaurants (Hungry lost dogs will be attracted to dumpsters)

  • If at all practical, leave doors open to the house, especially the doors the has used in the past.

If your dog has been missing for a long time
  • Don’t give up—Dogs can survive cold, and are resourceful. Family and friends may begin telling you to quit, saying the dog might have been eaten by a coyote, or someone took it in, etc. Nothing succeeds like persistence! 

  • Contact the sanitation department to see if the deceased pet found

  • Continue sharing on Facebook to keep the face of the dog present.

  • Contact Highway Patrol and neighborhood police forces

  • Continue checking shelters

  • Check and renew ads on Craigslist and lost and found pet websites

Other sites that can help:
  • Pet Harbor

  • Craigslist

  • Fido Finder

  • Lost Dogs of America

  • Pet FBI

  • Lost my Doggy

  • Fido Finder

  • NextDoor or Front Porch Forum:

    • check the lost and found section and post a lost pet notice.

  • Neighbor by Ring App:

    • you do not have to have a ring to do this.


Your homeowner’s or neighborhood association if you have one; contact them and ask them to help spread the word among your neighbors.


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Found a Pet?

Always use caution when handling or approaching a found animal. Remember, an animal that may initially appear sweet with us may act completely different when trying to be rescued. If the pet is displaying behaviors that could jeopardize your safety, please leave the area and call 311 or local animal control. For your safety and to reduce disease, it is best to keep your pets and a found pet separate while finding their owners.

  • Search for owner info.

    • Look for any owner information or tags. If the number on a tag is from a vet clinic or another facility be sure to have BOTH the tag number and the year on the tag written down before calling.

  • Scan the pet for a microchip.

    • Take the animal to your vet or a local shelter and ask them to scan him for a microchip.

  • Found puppies or kittens?

    • If you’ve found newborn kittens or puppies, please observe them for about 18-24 hours before coming to their rescue. Keep in mind that it’s important to keep them with their mother if possible. Mom may be out searching for food or she may be in the process of moving her babies to a safer location. Mom’s tend to be gone for 2-3 hours at a time. They are fine for now. Try to watch from a safe distance because mom may not want to show you where her babies are located, so she’ll avoid them. Healthy babies can survive this time without food as long as they are in a safe place. If you’ve observed that the mother has abandoned the babies, or if the mother perished in any way, please move and make sure the pets are in a safe area. You can purchase nursing bottles and replacement formula at most local pet stores. If you can, please feed and take care of the babies until they are at the ideal weight for surgeries. Here is a guide for baby kittens and puppies.

Found a Pet
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  • Ask your neighbors.

    • Go door to door to ask your neighbors if they recognize the pet and alert them to be on the lookout for anyone searching the neighborhood. It’s helpful to have a photo of the animal if the animal isn’t cooperative enough to accompany you.

  • Take a photo of the pet.

  • Make found flyers.

    • Make FOUND flyers and remember that most people will try to read the flyer from their car, so keep it very simple with a photo and large readable font that says FOUND DOG or FOUND CAT.

  • Report to the local shelter. 

  • Put up posters in the area that you found.

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Finding a Shy Dog

Tell people not to chase, Write “Do Not Chase” on your signs and handouts. SIGHTINGS ONLY.​

  • Do not yell dog’s name

  • Use calming signals – if a dog is spotted, sit quietly

  • Avoid eye contact (perceived as threatening by distressed animals)

  • Stay low, stoop as you approach

  • Lure a dog with food, just drop and walk away or toss to the dog’s side, not directly at it.

  • If the dog won’t come to you, it may be necessary to use a large humane trap and set where the dog was last seen. You may be able to borrow one from animal control or a local shelter or rent one from an equipment rental store.(See our page “Advice on Trapping a Runaway Dog” for excellent instructions on baiting and setting a trap.)

  • When searching, carry with you treats and slip leads that can go over the dog’s head quickly without needing to fasten a leash to a collar.


TIP: Run, jog or walk away  from the dog to see if it will follow. This is less threatening than the direct approach.

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