If your pet does go missing or is stolen, there are a host of things you can do to try to get your pet back to you and that’s the purpose of today’s blog. This list is not comprehensive by any means. If you read the blog and you have a suggestion which has worked for you in the past or which has worked for someone you know, by all means post a comment to share that information.
Contact the microchip company. If your pet is microchipped, contact the company you used to register your chip to let them know your pet is lost or stolen. If your registration information is outdated, update the information with the company. There may be an extra fee to do this depending on the microchip implanted in your pet, but it will be some nominal amount and is worth every penny.
Go to local shelters to look for your pet. Many animal shelters have listings of found pets which are in their custody, but many animal shelters do not. There is no substitute for physically going to the shelter or shelters in your area to look for your lost pet. You should take an image of your pet with you to leave with the shelter staff so they will "be on the lookout" for your pet to arrive in the future. You should go more than one time just so you can be sure that your pet did not roam for a period of time before being taken to the shelter by an animal control officer or Good Samaritan.
Look for your pet in your area. It may sound obvious, but look around for your pet to see if you can find him or her. You should do this quietly and not by enlisting the help of others. Your friends may want to help you find your lost dog or cat, but if you try to canvas a particular area with people unfamiliar to your pet or calling out your pet's name, you may spook your pet and cause him or her to flee or run into traffic.
Create a flyer about your lost or stolen pet. When it comes to getting your pet back home, the key is letting as many people as possible know that your pet is missing. We have Amber alerts for children. When it comes to pets, we are left with old school methods of letting people know that we need their help. Create a flyer about your lost or stolen pet which includes a good color image using Helping Lost Pets or using your computer. Print as many posters as you think you can reasonable distribute and then post them in your neighborhood, personally deliver them to the neighbors and businesses closest to where you live and share them on social media and by email with people in your area. Do not offer a reward for your pet. Although this has historically been seen as a way to motivate people to help you, it can actually encourage "dog napping" and can cause people to chase your dog or cat, making them run further away. If you do put up flyers, make sure you go back and take them down once your pet is safely back home.
Contact the media. Most local newspapers will allow you to run a short ad about your lost or stolen pet. Contact your local paper or papers which service your general geographic area and ask if they will run an ad for you for free. Some small papers may actually include an image of your pet in a small add for which you would pay some nominal fee. If your pet was stolen from your home or from an area where you were staying (campground, neighbor’s house, etc.) contact local TV stations to see if they will run a story for you. Many television stations are very animal friendly and may be willing to do a short story to help you.
Entice your pet to return home using bedding and food. Although many pets go quite far once they are outside, some don’t go far at all and are just hunkered down some place because they are afraid. Leave bowls of water and food outside near your home or the place where your pet went missing with some of your pets bedding. You may also want to put an item of clothing you have worn and which smells like you with the bedding.
Contact locals. Contact local veterinary offices, animal control agencies and law enforcement agencies to report that your dog or cat is lost or has been stolen and provide them with a copy of your flyer. Sometimes people who find lost pets take them to veterinary offices or turn them in to animal control agencies. If your pet was stolen, you should file a report about that so that it can be investigated, particularly if you think you know who took your pet. Some law enforcement agencies may not take your report seriously, but be persistent and demand help. We don’t like to think of our pets as property, but your pet is your property and theft of a pet is the same legally as theft of other things you own (although much more upsetting, of course). It's always a good idea to talk to local bus drivers and mail carriers to let them know your pet is missing so they can be "on the lookout" for your dog or cat. You can also contact Lost and Stolen Pet Recovery Assistance to see if they can help you.
I have known of people who had a pet go missing who never found the pet again. But I also know of people who have found pets after they had been missing for months. When your pet is reunited with you, I encourage you to have your pet microchipped and to take any and all steps within your power to keep them from being displaced from you again.