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December 27, 2011 at 10:49 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

What Should I Do If My Pet Is Missing? 5 Dog Trainer Tips!

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Your pet had collars and tags. Your backyard is fenced and there are no escape routes. You even mircochipped your fur kid, but what if despite this, something happens and your beloved fur kid goes missing. What should you do if your pet is missing?

#1. Posters. Tips for Making Missing Pet Posters or Flyers

Posters are responsible for reuniting many pets and pet owners. If your pet is missing get them up as soon as possible and:

  • Make it noticeable. Place posters in the places where people will be stopped in their cars long enough to read your sign. Intersections with traffic lights are a good idea. Ensure yours is seen with BRIGHT colored paper.
  • Make it readable. Ensure the message is clear by writing "LOST DOG" or "LOST CAT" in BIG BOLD letters at the very top.
  • Make your pet easy to identify. It is important to have a close up picture of your fur kid and a full body picture posted on your flyer. Note any unusual markings on your pet's body or face.
  • Make sure contact info is clear. Make sure to have your phone number (preferably a number you will answer immediately) in BIG, BOLD numbers on the flyer.
  • Consider a reward. Offering a reward (non-specific) is enticing to people to keep their eyes more appealed to the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

#2. Search. Tips for Searching the Neighborhood for Your Missing Pet

Often when pets go missing, they've simply wandered off farther than we are used to or a neighbor has taken them in. After making some posters:

  • Get some help. Grab a family member, friend or both to help you go door to door looking for your pet.
  • Hand out flyers. At the same time, post and hand out those flyers/posters you made!
  • Drive around the neighborhood. Send one to two people driving throughout the neighborhood as well.
  • Bring flyers to local shops. Make sure to hit your local food markets, shops and other places to drop off your flyers/poster. Visit and post your flyer/poster at your local vet clinics as well (I would focus on a 20 mile radius).
  • Spread the word. Talk to people in the streets, walking, at the park, the more people you tell, the better your chances are in finding your pet.
  • Call their name. While searching, be sure to call your dog's name and stop to listen to hear for any barking or whining.

#3. Place Ads. Where Can I Place Ads for a Missing Pet?

DO NOT wait for a couple of days to see if your dog will show up back home. Nowadays there are no shortage of places to get the word out about your missing pet.Try:

  • Placing an ad in your local newspaper
  • Placing an ad on Craigslist
  • Sending the word out on Facebook

#4. Check Shelters. Check Local Pet Shelters and Humane Society Buildings for Your Missing Pet

Visit your local animal shelters or humane society buildings and drop off a flyer. It may even be a good idea to stop by on a daily basis. Remember - they are overwhelmed and understaffed. Your description and the description of a staff member can be two different ideas.
I would also check within a 20 - 30 mile radius of other shelters every other day to see if someone dropped off your pet.

#5. Don't Give Up! Keep Searching!

Make sure to re-scope your neighborhood and the surrounding areas on a regular basis. Pets are unpredictable and can travel far.
Pets have been found months after their disappearance! Repost fallen flyers/poster, revisit neighborhoods, talk to neighbors and repost ads.

Preventative Measures

First and foremost, it is truly important to take all the necessary precautions when you get a pet.

  • Get them identification. Make sure to have a collar and tags and seriously consider getting your pet microchipped.
  • Escape-proof your yard. Thoroughly search your backyard for possible escape routes and don't forget to consider a dog that is an expert climber and can easily scale a 6-8 ft. fence.
  • Keep them current. Check your pet's tags every six months to make sure the information on their tag is current (i.e. did you change phone numbers?).

I truly hope you never experience the devastation of losing a pet and that the above precautions will help to prevent this tragic situation from happening. 


Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

Petfinder - Find Lost Dog

ASPCA - Finding a Lost Pet

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  • Very informative article! :)

    The important thing for people whose pets have gotten away, is to remember that animals are much smarter than we often give them credit for, and you always hear of amazing stories about a cat or dog traveling miles and miles, finding their way home.

    So don't give up hope!

  • I agree Brad, they are truly resilient.... :)

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