What to do if you’ve lost or found a pet

As much as we try to avoid it, we know that sometimes our pets can get out and become lost from their families. We’ve put together these checklists that may be helpful in the event that you lost your pet or you found a lost pet.

Be proactive so you are ready in case your dog goes missing

  • Be sure to have your dog micro-chipped and make sure the chip is registered. Store their chip information, and the company contact information it is registered with, in your phone for easy, and quick access.
  • For dog owners with an iPhone that live in suburban/city type areas, the AirTag works great for tracking dogs if they get lost. It’s a $30 investment- doesn’t need to be charged and no monthly fees. https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-airtag/airtag
  • Keep a current picture of your dog on your phone or computer. Full body, sitting or standing works best. You will use this picture to post and create flyers.
  • Keep a name tag on your dog’s collar and be sure your current phone number is on it. This is the easiest way to assure your dog’s quick return.

If your dog becomes LOST …

  • Immediately notify the company that you’ve registered their chip with. If your dog is turned into a local shelter or vet, they will scan the chip and notify the company the chip is registered with.
  • Immediately create a simple flyer with the photo, your phone number and the cross streets they went missing from. No additional info is needed. Create flyer using the largest font for the phone number. See our Flyer Hanging 101 Tips.
  • Immediately call your local shelter to see if they have had any calls for a found dog in your area. If you don’t know who your local animal shelter is, check Pet Harbor (petharbor.com) for the shelters in your immediate area. Making a connection with your local shelter is super important, depending on where you leave, visiting the shelter daily may be necessary.
  • Join http://Nextdoor.com and create your free account based on your zip code. If your dog becomes lost, immediately post on Nextdoor with the flyer that you created.
  • Join Neighbors by Ring. You do not need to have a Ring system in order to post. If your dog becomes lost, immediately post on Neighbors with the flyer that you created.
  • Join PawBoost (Pawboost.com) and immediately post the flyer that you created.
  • Join Lost My Doggie (https://www.lostmydoggie.com) Create a free lost or found pet listing that is emailed & faxed to local shelters, vets and rescue groups.
  • Join Fido Finder (https://fidofinder.com) Register and you will be contacted when matching lost or found dogs are added to their website. Search their extensive database of found pets.
  • If your dog was adopted from a local rescue group, notify them that your dog is lost and ask them to share on their social platforms. Be sure to share the flyer with them and give specific details about regarding where/how/when your dog went missing.
  • Print color copies of the flyer you created in order to canvass the immediate area. Start with a two mile radius from the point your dog went missing from. Increase that distance if more time has lapsed. Drop off flyers at local vet and emergency hospitals as well as posting on trail entrances and dog parks. Flyers should be placed in clear page protectors and hung with clear packing tape. Click here for notes of how to hang flyers for maximum visibility.
  • If your dog went missing from an unknown location (on a hike, at a park, friends house)- stay put. Do not leave. Without human intervention, dogs circle back to the point they went missing from. Allow your dog to “find” you. Stay at the location, sit down and allow yourself to be found when your dog returns. Do not chase!
  • There are several pet recovery specialists that will help you with next steps. Do not pay anyone who says they can find your dog. A Way Home For Dogs is one specialist that we recommend. She does not charge and is accessible via phone- 619-249-2221. Her Facebook page is A Way Home For Dogs.
  • Be aware of scammers that will text and say that they have found your dog. Do not communicate with anyone who asks for a code in order to talk to them. Ask for a photo to prove that they have found your dog.
  • As you get calls from your flyers and posts, it is important to keep a log of any sightings. Record the date/time of the sighting, the direction of travel and the demeanor of your dog. You will use this information to develop a pattern if your dog is evading people and not able to be found easily.

If you FOUND a dog …

  • If there is no tag / phone number please take the dog to a local vet to have them scanned for a microchip. If the dog is chipped, and the chip is registered, the owner can be contacted.
  • Please create a FOUND DOG flyer that can be shared on the same sites listed above.
  • Hanging street flyers is very important as a lot of people do not know to check social media when they have lost a pet.
  • Contact your local shelter and make a report for the found dog. If you are uncomfortable taking to the shelter, make sure the shelter will post the found dog on their website. If the shelter has a physical book of found dogs, take the flyer in to them.
  • Do not assume that a dirty or matted dog has been dumped or abused. You would be surprised how quickly dogs can go from looking great to looking like they live on the streets.