Missing Pet? Here’s an Action Plan To Help Bring Them Home!

by Diane Burket                    

You’ve lost your pet.
Now what do you do??!!

·       Never give up! Pets have been caught and/or found months after being lost!

·       Your pet is probably just as scared as you are.  Immediately, secure other pets so they are safe, then open all doors into your home, so if the pet tries to find a way to get inside, he/she can.

·       Walk around the perimeter of your home, carefully looking under bushes, inside sheds, garages, etc.  Be thorough in your searching, try to think like your pet might.

·       Most cats stay in their yard for at least the first 48 hours.  Don’t go too far for those first couple of days if you’ve lost a cat. Search your immediate area, looking under cars, decks and plantings, inside garages, up in trees, etc.  

·       Set up Live Animal traps—as many as you can borrow or buy. 

Some shelters will let you borrow a trap for as little as $1 per day. Put at least one in the area where the pet got out, as it’s likely to return to that spot again.  Use “smelly” cat food in the trap, put something that smells like them in the trap (bedding) and cover the trap with a towel to make it seem quiet and safe. Cats like small spaces and if they are hungry, they may go inside.  Check the trap very often and replace with fresh food. Put food and water outside in a spot close to where he or she got out.

·       Consider investing in a “wildlife camera”…or borrow one from a friend.

They are infrared and take pictures based on motion. 

·       Is your pet a tree climber or an under bed hider?  Try to anticipate where they might feel safest.  Some dogs and cats will run until they can’t run anymore; others will find a hole or “safe” place to hide under a porch, in a pipe, in the woods, etc.

·       Make telephone calls to these folks:

  1. Your Microchip company
  2. Your Veterinarian
  3. Nearby Vets who might receive an injured animal
  4. Local animal shelters
  5. Rescue groups in your area.  
  6. For missing cats…If there are feral cat colonies in your area, let the caretakers know of your missing cat and give them a picture. They might see your cat when they feed the colony. Often, they may offer to help and may have extra traps or cameras you can borrow. 
  7. Some Search and Rescue dogs are specifically trained to help find missing pets.
  8. FindToto.com is a great “Amber Alert” broadcast system for lost, stolen and found pets.  I personally used this system to find a foster dog.  It was very helpful.
  9. A friend used LostMyKitty.com  

·       Use Social media!  Post a current picture of your pet and ask your friends/contacts to spread the word.  Be sure to put the Street, Town, and State in your posts.  Give people your email address to contact you.  Consistantly post updates so the search continues to be on their mind. Offer a reward for info leading to your pet’s safe return, if you can afford it. 

·       Post flyers with your pet’s picture.  Hand-deliver to your neighbors, mailman and friends.  Hang flyers at pet stores, near bus-stops, your neighborhood…or anywhere else you think your pet might wander over time. Re-visit neighbors every few days, just in case they saw something and didn’t connect it to your pet.  You can find some templates here. https://www.adoptapet.com/blog/free-and-easy-template-lost-or-found-pet-flye/

·       Search outside after dark with a flashlight.

Pets eyes reflect, so you may see something at night. Go out at dawn as they may come out when the neighborhood is quieter. 

·       If you adopted through a Rescue, contact them immediately. They usually have volunteers in your area who are able and willing to help with tips or suggestions. 

·       Don’t give up! Repeat all these steps.  We personally know of pets missing for more than 6 weeks and recovered by using “Have a Heart” traps. Your pet is counting on you, so continue to have faith that you will be successful!


A big THANK YOU to Kathi Meenehan of Siamese Rescue in Virginia for providing much of these helpful tips!   

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