It’s that gut wrenching feeling that no pet owner ever wants to feel. You call your pet’s name and they don’t come. Instead, you find an empty bed, a slipped collar, or an open door. Your pet could be anywhere, but the one thing you know is they are not where they belong—home with you. The important thing is not to panic. Take a deep breath and start going through the steps below. If you’re calm, methodical, and thorough, you’ll be reunited with your pet in no time!
Immediately Upon Noticing Your Pet Is Lost
Before your pet has time to roam too far, begin searching the area where they were last seen. A study conducted by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) found that 49% of pet parents who lost their pet found them by searching their neighborhood. Gather your friends to help search, and ask neighbors if they have seen your pet. Keep your pet’s favorite treat or toy on hand during the search, and call out their name along with words they respond to. It’s also a good idea to bring a leash and a blanket with you; that way, when you find them, you have some tools to catch them.
If your pet is microchipped and registered with a database, alert the organization maintaining the database that your pet has gone missing. This ensures that if someone finds your pet before you do and scans their microchip, they will know your pet is not where they belong. For this reason, it’s also important to make sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date, including your current address and contact information.
Another crucial step to reuniting with your pet is to pay attention to your phone! If your pet still has their collar and tag on, or if someone finds your information by scanning their chip, they likely will be giving you a call. Keep your phone’s ringer on full volume so you don’t accidentally miss a call. Alternatively, if the phone number is a landline, make sure a member of your search party stays at your home to answer in case someone calls.
Within a Few Hours
If you search the immediate area and come up empty handed, it’s time to spread the word.
Businesses & Emergency Personnel – Call any local veterinarians, groomers, or shelters to tell them that your pet is missing. You can also alert your local police and fire departments via their non-emergency lines. When making these phone calls, provide your contact information and an accurate description of your pet: name, temperament, breed, coat length and color (don’t forget special markings), size, and age.
Social Media & Local Groups – Thankfully, social media has made it easier to spread the word about a missing pet. Publicly share a recent photo of them, along with your contact information to your social media accounts and local “lost pet” groups. This way, any information you provide can be shared across multiple platforms by multiple people. The most common platforms to use are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In the Following Days
If your pet is still not home within a day or two, it’s time to kick the search up a notch. Visit local shelters and humane societies in person to see if your pet is there. Also, continuously call for updates. Remember, at some places, staffing can vary day-to-day, and not everyone working at a facility may know that your pet is missing.
Continue to repost on social media often and update your posts so they do not get buried in group feeds! Additionally, try different groups a bit further out of your search area, and try new platforms like the NextDoor app or Ring Doorbell Neighbors page.
“Old school” posters are another great route to take. We may live in the digital age, but never underestimate the power of ink. Print out posters with your pet’s name, photo, and your contact information; post them on telephone poles, street signs, and even inside local businesses or community centers in your area to get some traction.
After your Pet is Found
When your pet is ultimately returned it’s definitely cause for celebration! But once they are safe and sound, be sure to also do the following:
- Get them checked out. No matter how long your pet has been missing, they may have gotten small cuts and scrapes, or they could have picked up some unwanted hitchhikers. Take them to your veterinarian for an exam to get any treatment or preventatives that they might need.
- Take down any social media posts or physical posters you hung to assist in your efforts. Also contact any organizations who you originally alerted to your pets escape and let them know they are no longer lost.
- Have patience and don’t be angry with your pet. Even if your pet was well-trained before they went missing, accidents happen. In the days following, don’t be upset if they’ve forgotten commands or even have accidents in the house. Instead you may just need to brush up on their training.
Your Pets are our Priority!
At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.