Tips or Guidelines If You Have Lost Your Cat or Dog
6 February, 2012

My neighbor, Sally, could not find her outdoor cat and was devastated.   However, she did not give up looking for her cat, Charlie, and found him at a local shelter a week later.   I thought I would share what she did and give some guidelines to help any pet owner who is in this unthinkable position to help you find your beloved pet.

1.  START SEARCHING IMMEDIATELY

The sooner you start searching, the less distance your pet will have traveled. Thoroughly search the surrounding property and continue in the direction that your pet was last seen. Go door-to-door, starting close by initially, moving further out later.

Bring a flashlight and check EVERYWHERE: in closets, cupboards, and all accessible spaces inside your home; behind washers, inside pipes and culverts, in heavy brush, sheds, basement crawl spaces, open garages, under decks. Your pet may be stuck somewhere, extremely frightened, or injured and lying low. For lost cats and other climbing critters, check trees, roofs, and attics.

2. MAKE FLYERS WITH A PHOTO OF YOUR PET

Print “LOST CAT or DOG” in large letters.   You should include your pet’s size, coloring, hair length, and any distinctive markings, whether your pet has a collar, the last location pet where your pet was seen as well your phone number.   Post these flyers everywhere!

3.  LEAVE OUT FOOD

Leave out food and water, as well as belongings with a familiar scent.

4.  LOOK FOR CLUES

Look for physical evidence like animal hairs (caught under fences, on shrubs, around broken screens), paw prints, and animal droppings that might provide clues as to where your pet might be.

5.  COULD YOUR PET BE TRAPPED OR HIDING SOMEWHERE?

Your pet may have inadvertently locked him or herself in a moving van, delivery truck, or the garage of a neighbor. It is also possible that your pet is hiding in a local construction site or an area that has been sealed off.

6.  SEARCH AT NIGHT/EARLY MORNING

Many animals look for food in the late night/early morning hours because they feel safer in the dark. Bring food and make a noise that would motivate your pet to come running towards you (tapping on a can or rustling a kibble bag). Keep your safety in mind as well.

7. ASK EVERYONE

Show anyone and everyone the flyer and ask if they have seen your pet — particularly neighbors who leave food out for animals, walkers and joggers, children, mail and package delivery people.   Further, if neighbors see you looking, it will remind them to keep their eyes out for your pet.

VISIT YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTERS

Try to call or drop by your local shelter every few days.  Hopefully, someone will have been kind enough to leave your lost pet there.

And, finally, don’t give up after only a few days or simply wait for your pet to return on his or her own. Many pets are found weeks or months after they disappear. With knowledge, persistence, and repetition, you should be able to find your lost pet.  Good luck!

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