One of every pet parent’s worst fears is their beloved furry friend getting loose and wandering far from home. Searching for a lost pet can be frightening, stressful and traumatic for both you and your pet.
Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in this situation. But if you do, following a few tips might make your search much easier and help you be reunited with your pet as soon as possible.
- Check your home: If you’ve just realized that you haven’t seen your pet for a while, don’t panic. The first place you should check is your home. Pets have a knack for burrowing into secret hiding spots in closets and behind furniture. You might think they’ve run off when they’re really taking a snooze! Double check your home before venturing out.
- Start searching immediately: If your pet is definitely not at home, waste no time in heading out to search your neighborhood. Bring along a bag of your pet’s favorite treats or a toy that makes noise to help get their attention. Start close to home first—around your backyard, in surrounding wooded areas and around any nearby hiding spaces—then drive slowly throughout your neighborhood with a passenger to help keep an eye out for your pet.
- Alert your neighbors: As soon as you can, alert your immediate neighbors that your pet is missing and ask them to keep a watchful eye out for your furry friend. Some pets don’t stray far from home when they’re lost, so it’s likely one of your neighbors might find them in their backyard and can alert you.
- Call local shelters: If your neighborhood search proves fruitless, begin making calls to the animal shelters, rescue organizations, veterinary hospitals and animal control agencies in your area. People who find lost pets often turn them into these locations. If the organizations have your pet’s information and a photo to identify them, they can call you if your furry friend shows up.
- Post to neighborhood forums: Social media has made it much easier to share information about lost pets and bring them home faster. If you’re part of any neighborhood groups or forums on platforms like Nextdoor or Facebook, post a photo and information about your lost pet so others know what to look for. Check these posts regularly to see if anyone shares useful information about your furry friend’s whereabouts.
- Put up flyers: Physical flyers are still useful, too! Create “Lost Pet” flyers to hang on lamp posts, shop windows and other areas around town. Make sure to include a clear photo of your pet, general information about their identifying features (sex, age, weight, breed, color, etc.) and your name and phone number so passerby can get ahold of you.
- Stay positive: Searching for a lost pet can feel scary and disheartening, but it’s important to stay positive during your search. If you live in an urban environment, chances are that someone will spot your pet. By covering all your bases—animal shelters, social media, in-person signage and more—you’ll help ensure you and your furry friend will be reunited.
Prevention is key to keeping your pet safe
Accidents happen, and some pets will find opportunities to escape wherever they can find them. However, the best way to make finding your lost pet easier—or to prevent them from running loose at all—is to take proactive precautions for pet safety.
One of the biggest mistakes pet owners make is failing to equip their pet with identification because they only stay indoors. Even indoor pets can dash out the door and get lost, though, so it’s a good idea to take precautions with all your pets.
Here are some tips to ensure a fast reunion with your furry friend.
- Have your pet microchipped: Microchipping your pet when they are young makes it much easier for you to be reunited with them if they get lost and are turned in to a shelter. Vets and shelter staff will scan for a chip, which should have your contact information logged, and reach out to you. Make sure to keep this info updated!
- Outfit your pet with a collar and ID tag: Collars and ID tags that have your pet’s name and your address and phone number are also useful. People who find your lost pet might realize they belong to someone from the collar and use the tag information to get ahold of you right away.
- Use gates and fences in your yard: If your pup goes outside to play or use the bathroom, make sure they’re on a leash or are prevented from running away with a gated fence. One squirrel or loud noise could cause your pet to go dashing, and a fence might stop them from getting loose.
- Supervise your pet carefully: Pets should be supervised whether they’re inside or outside. If you have to open your front door, make sure you know where your pet is so they don’t go dashing. If you’re outside with your pet, keep a close eye on their movements so they don’t run away.
If your pet goes missing and is later returned to you, breathe a sigh of relief! Your furry friend is home! However, it’s a good idea to schedule a vet appointment shortly after to make sure that your pet didn’t contract any diseases or become injured during their time away.