What Do You Do If Your Pet Gets Lost?

Catherine Forman

It is a horrible thing to think about: your pet slips out the door and seems to disappear. How do you get your pet back safe and sound? This timeline can help you out.

Before your pet ever escapes: Make sure they have a collar with tags! Your pet should wear an ID tag with your name and phone number. Your pet should also have a current rabies certificate; some areas may have a low tolerance for unvaccinated pets.


In the first few hours: Get as much help as possible. Call your friends and family to help you look around your neighborhood. Ask everyone you see about your missing pet. Call the local police and animal shelters to see if anyone has brought in your missing pet.

Call your pet's name as you walk around. Rattle a box of treats, or squeak a toy... anything that might get your pet's attention. Be sure to carry a cell phone with you; in case anything happens while you are searching, you can get help.

In the first few days: check with your local veterinarians and shelters every day. Don't just call! Go by in person with pictures of your pet, and to look at any pet that may resemble your pet. My Miss Bee is a Boxer/Shar-pei mix, but the last time she got out, police thought she was a Pit Bull. If you don't know breeds, you may call a dog or cat one thing when it is another.


Make and hang as many posters as you can. Use a good picture of your pet, and offer a reward if you choose. Put your phone number on the posters, but not your address. If anyone has found your missing pet, they can call you and arrange a meeting.

And don't ever give up hope. I recently saw a story of a golden retriever named Sam who had been adopted from somewhere in the south and transported to his new home in New Hampshire. After only two weeks, he got out and disappeared. Two years later, local animal control officers managed to catch Sam using a ham sandwich as bait and he was returned to his family. He had stayed close, surviving the cold winters thanks to kind folks who put out food and finding shelter where he could.

Lost Pets

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 233 Feedbacks
May 8, 20061 found this helpful

Please people, keep your pet's ids updated, and get a microchip id for them, too. You can get the info at your vet's office. Not only can the pet be identified and returned quicker but imagine this scenario: Your toddler discovers the door knob, and walks out on his own with the dog. The dog and kid get picked up....instant id! We found ours immediately, but I don't like to imagine the what ifs.... Heck, hang a doggie tag on your kid too! I put luggage tags on mine when travelling!

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May 9, 20061 found this helpful

Sam the golden retriever was from and returned back to his owners in my town, Danville, NH. We never saw him, but almost everyone else in our tiny town and the towns around us did.

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By Claudia-MD (Guest Post)
May 10, 20061 found this helpful

Sam's is a heartwarming story. However, too often, pets don't find their way back, get run over by cars, and have other terrible fates befall them. I have tags on both of my dogs that give the dog's name, my telephone # and "Reward".


Microchips are also great. I don't trust doggie doors and I keep a close eye on my two when they are in the backyard; when out of our yard, they are always on a leash. They are family and I don't take any chances with them.

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March 3, 20151 found this helpful

Tagging your child! How...brilliant! Reunions are so easy when anyone who sees your child can just ring your cell!

I'm sure many people (mainly those with no kids) will find some sort of fault with this. I used to keep my kids on tethers when out shopping (and still in my sights, btw). Inevitably, we'd get at least a comment or two likening them to dogs.


Absolutely! I said. If I keep my dog safe on a leash, why would I not do the same for my babies?!

And as far as the emotional trauma, it all belonged to the adults who shuddered at the sight. My kids just walked around and explored, oblivious to the fact that they were connected to me (unless they got too far away, in which case the gentle tug reminded them to come back closer without a word from me. My son once complained when he couldn't keep drifting, and I simply said, "That means you have to come closer!" and he did, period!)

I guess some people'd rather see kids trapped in carts, screaming their ways through the stores! Not MY babies! Leashes and labels for all! ;>

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