What to Do If You’ve Lost or Found a Pet



When you lose a pet it can feel like you’re losing a family member, and finding someone else’s can be an awkward time to navigate. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on what you can do in either situation. Bookmark this page because you might need it one day!




If you’ve lost your pet:


1. Don’t panic—thinking with a clear head is key in this situation. Have someone stay behind to field phone calls, and then drive through the neighborhood with a whistle (if you have a dog), a leash and a current photo.

2. Check your local animal control website for recent pick-ups and found pet reports. You can even search www.petharbor.com, for listings and pictures of animals brought into shelters, updated hourly. If you have not found your pet after searching, register your pet as lost to receive an email when matching animals are listed by a shelter or registered as found on the site.

3. Blanket a five-mile radius with “Lost Dog” signs. Include a picture, breed, color and your phone number; listing a “reward” helps too. Leave flyers at houses on your street, shelters, pet-supply stores, vet offices, groomers, dog parks, supermarkets, the post office and coffee shops. Post “Lost Dog” ads on Craigslist and in the local newspapers for at least two weeks.

4. Personally visit all shelters in your area; neighboring cities often contract with different shelters. Visit as often as possible. If the shelter policy allows, leave your contact information with a recent photo of your pet; shelter staff cannot always provide notification, but most will provide as much assistance as possible. See a list of local shelters, here.


Tip: Always have your pet wear license and ID tags, and invest in an ID microchip (keep your contact information current) for quick returns.


If you’ve found an animal:


1. Check for ID tags, or drive them to your vet’s office to have them scanned for an ID microchip.

2. You can also try putting them on a leash and saying “go home!” They might lead you straight to their door, or to neighbors who know them.

3. By law you’re required to register the pet at the local animal shelter, because that’s likely the first place their owner will look. If you decide to search for the owner on your own, call and register the pet at local shelters and as found on www.petharbor.com; matching descriptions will be emailed to owners who have registered lost pets.

4. If you decide to take the animal to a shelter, you can find your city’s shelter here. At the shelter, the animal will be scanned for microchip ID and logged. Generally, stray animals are held for an owner-reclamation period prior to being available for adoption. If you are worried about the life of the animal, always ask the shelter about their policy before taking the animal in.

5. If you cannot transport the animal to a shelter or find the owner on your own, call your local animal control office.


Tip: Many rescue organizations offer advice and assistance, you can find rescues here.