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What to do if you lose your pet

Bring your pet home faster with these 5 tips!

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Losing a pet. It’s a fear that rests, not so subtly, in the back of every pet parent’s mind, and, unfortunately, it does happen a lot more often than we’d like to believe. According to the American Humane Association (AHA), an estimated 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen from their homes each year here in the U.S., and many end up in our shelters. Of those pets, only 22% of dogs and less than 2% of cats were able to be reunited with their families without the help of microchips or ID tags. It’s a heartbreaking statistic. 

We do our very best as pet parent’s to keep our beloved furry family members safe at all times, but there are situations that even we can’t prepare for. Thinking about the safety of our pets can sometimes become overwhelming, especially when we aren’t sure what we would do in that situation. Here are 5 things you should do if you lose your pet:

Ditch the guilt

When a pet gets out or becomes lost, often the first emotion that floods in is guilt. It’s inevitable and nearly impossible to shake. This is why, the number one, most important, step to overcome when losing a pet is the guilt. Let me be very clear. Losing your beloved pet does not, in any way, make you a bad or irresponsible pet owner. So, kick that thought to the curb because this can happen to anyone. 

Check in with your local animal shelters

One of the first things you should do is file a lost pet report with every animal shelter within 60 mile radius of your home. This allows you to cover more ground should your pet happen to wander a farther distance than you can physically search. Visiting and/or calling the shelters daily to check if your pet has been brought in gives you a better chance of finding your pet sooner and reducing their stay period within the shelter; a very stressful environment for any pet. Another crucial aspect of this step is to call the microchip company your pet’s chip is from and double check that all of your information is accurate and up-to-date. These companies also often provide additional tools and resources for you to find your pet. *If you believe your pet may have stolen, also be sure to alert your local police department! 

Recruit some friends and search the neighborhood

It seems incredibly daunting to attempt to search on foot for your lost pet, but it really is effective. Ask for help, the animal-lovers of your community can’t say no when a pet is in trouble, and they will come. In troves! Make sure everyone has treats and some sort of leash or carrier and take the search to the streets. An added boost to this method is to hang up flyers as you go around the neighborhoods and in as many local establishments as you can. They should have a current photo of your pet, their name, and your contact information. Simple, but really gets the word out. 

Check the internet

One of the greatest tools at your disposal in this day and age is the internet. Social media channels have the capability to disseminate information not only at rapid speeds, but also to a much larger group of people. Post your lost pet on any social media platform and it will be shared and more people will be looking out for your pet. There are also a lot of websites to look into such as Pawboost, Petco Love Lost, Pet FBI, Center for Lost Pets, Nextdoor lost and found pages and posts, and even Craigslist. The internet is an invaluable tool in finding lost pets, use it!

Never stop looking

No matter how long it takes, how fatigued you become, hold onto your hope and keep searching. There is no one else your pet would rather be than with you, and vice versa. You hold so much power to reunite with your lost pet, and it’s important to never give that up. They are counting on you. We’ve all seen the stories of pets who have been lost for years reuniting with their families and that moment is worth every ounce of heartache. Never. Give. Up. 

HSSA is determined to keep pets out of the shelters and safe in their homes. With our newest lost pet initiative, Volunteer Pet Detectives, we are putting our volunteers in the mix to help support pet parents in the community who may have lost a pet. Through research and monitoring various tools, our volunteers are matching lost pet information with found pet information and helping to reunite families with their lost pet whether they have come to the shelter or not. Join the mission and become a Volunteer Pet Detective!



Information Sources

Pet Finder | www.petfinder.com

Humane Society of the United States | www.humanesociety.org