Find A Lost Pet
Hey look…they didn’t
close the gate all the way. I bet I could get out and go
play all by myself.
It worked – I’m FREE!
Boy this is fun…there’s nobody on the streets and the snow
looks so pretty. It’s really coming down…I love catching it
on my tongue. And I can roll on my back and make snow
A reindeer! Are
you Rudolph? Do you want to play some reindeer games
with me? I promise I won’t hurt you. Hey…wait up – I
can’t run that fast. I know…I’ll follow his hoof
prints into the woods. Are we playing Hide ‘n Seek?
Where are you? Where am I?
It’s starting to get
dark. Mom always tells the kids to come home when the
street lights come on. But I’m not sure I can get
home. I can’t see my paw prints anymore, the snow has
covered them. I’m getting cold and I’m hungry too.
if I walk this way….hmm…this doesn’t look too familiar.
Mom and Dad must be getting worried because by now they must
know that I’m not in the yard anymore. I hope they
find me soon. I’m lost.
If this happened to your
pet(s), would you know what to do?
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only
walk long enough."
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
How To Find A Lost Pet
Lessons learned from
the successful return of Flo Jo!
Before you Pet ever goes missing
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar & is microchipped!
Make a “Lost Pet” folder and keep a copy in
your home and in your car
your Pet goes Missing
flyers everywhere - the bigger/brighter the better!
Enlist the help of
a 4-legged buddy
Spread the word online
Personally visit local shelters, DAILY, if possible
Ask Animal Control, humane societies, and shelters about pet
rescue organizations in your area
Contact Breed Specific Rescues
Check out all the local papers for Found Pets and place a
Lost Pet classified
Dogs tend to move in the early morning
If in an unfamiliar area, get a few local maps
What to do once you have a
Get the Pet Owner to that spot
Gather up the clothes in your hamper
Get permission when entering private property
A Few Words of Caution
When You Find Your Pet
Lost Pet Flyer
Appendix B Factors That Influence Distances Traveled
Appendix C Find Your Pet
This guide to finding
your lost pet was made possible by a Border Collie named Flo
Jo, who got a little spooked and took off on her big
adventure. This is a “lesson’s learned” guide that hopefully
can help others quickly locate their lost pet and ensure
they make it home safely.
A special thank you to
Sandy, Ardis, Barbara, Jennifer, Heather, Heidi, Elaine,
Larry & all the members & friends of the Y2K9’s agility club
for their wonderful insight on what worked best to help
bring Flo Jo home. They truly took teamwork to another level
and pulled together to help bring Flo Jo back to her mom,
I would also like to
thank Sharon, who shared her experiences with the safe
return of her boy Jesse, who was made it back home after
being away for 7 days!
Before your pet ever goes missing
collar is the first thing a person who finds a lost pet
looks for to see who the pet belongs to. This is the
quickest way to identify your pet and have him returned
safely to you. This is why you should ALWAYS have a collar
with identification on your pet, even if he/she is in the
house or just playing outside in your fenced yard.
never know if someone will leave the gate open or your dog
gets a burst of energy while chasing a bunny and heads out
over the fence on a new adventure!
Collars can fall off, so you need to have another form of
identification for your pet. This is why getting your pet
microchipped is also extremely important!
had a “HomeAgain” microchip. A microchip is a very small
device, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm). You cannot
see the microchip after it is implanted under the skin of
your dog or cat. It is implanted under your pet’s skin in a
method similar to a vaccine injection.
microchip has no internal battery or power source, so most
of the time it's inactive. When the microchip scanner is
passed over it, the microchip gets enough power from the
scanner to transmit the pet's ID number. Since there's no
battery and no moving parts, there's nothing to wear out or
replace. The microchip will last your pet's lifetime. The
biggest benefit of getting your dog microchipped is the
activity that happens once you report your dog missing.
HomeAgain, their “Rapid Lost Pet Alerts” are sent the
minute you report your pet as lost. Your pet’s “Lost Pet”
info is sent out to the entire HomeAgain “Pet Recovery
Network” within a 25 mile radius. The “Pet Recovery
Network”, is vets, shelters & other local pet owners, whose
pet is also microchipped and signed up for the alerts, to
notify them of your lost pet.
sure you update your pets profile
good photo of your pet, along with any info that would be
useful in identifying your pet. Make sure to include your
cell phone as a contact number! Chances are you will be out
searching for your pet and not at home to receive any calls
if your pet is spotted.
next time you are at the vet, have your vet scan your pet to
ensure the chip show registered with your updated contact
HomeAgain – (USA / 888-466-3242)
AKC/CAR – (USA / 800-252-7894)
Microchip4Solutions (M4S ID) -Canada/North America
AVID – (Global -951-371-7505) -
Your pet only needs one microchip. This document is not an
advertisement for HomeAgain, but they are by far the largest
provider in the US. If your pet has a microchip by a
provider other than HomeAgain, you can still register the
number with HomeAgain to take advantage of their services.
One note of caution
– The “basic” package does not come with the alerting
services. There is of course an “up charge” for these
services. Make sure the package you have purchased provides
these alert services!
All of the microchip companies offer various services to
differentiate them from other companies. HomeAgain also
offers medical insurance, as well as transport reimbursement
if your dog was found 500 miles from home. Be sure to read
the fine print on any service you purchase.
AVID chips are registered to your vet's office, where they
have complete descriptions, emergency contact info for
family members. They also have the ability to order
AVID might not do all the things that Home Again is now
doing, but they also haven't changed the rules mid-stream or
started charging annual fees.
Their id tags also carry three phone numbers – owner, family
emergency contact, and vet.
Not all microchips are the same
AVID® and HomeAgain® microchips read on a frequency of
125-khz and have been commonly used in veterinary hospitals
and shelters across the United States. Each company has
universal scanners that can identify chips from each other
as well as other microchip companies that create chips that
are also 125-khz.
Controversy involving microchips exists because one company
(Banfield) introduced a chip that was 134.2-khz and
incompatible with other readers.
Therefore, pets chipped with Banfield microchips could not
be identified with the most common microchip scanners on the
market in the U.S. Banfield has since stopped selling the
undetectable microchips in their clinics.
The newer universal scanners can now read both types of
chips. If you have an older microchip from Banfield (PetSmart
Vet), it would not hurt to contact local shelters to make
sure they have the universal scanners that can read your
If they do not, contact Banfield and request they provide
the scanner to the shelter.
Conversely, if you are traveling outside the US with your
pet, you should check with one of the other providers to see
if your pet’s number can be registered with that service.
Make sure you provide a number where you can be reached
within that country if your cell phone does not work
This may not give you complete coverage if the local
shelters/vets in the country you are visiting do not have
the “Universal Scanner”. Prior to the distribution of
Universal scanners, scanners were specific to the microchip
provider and could not read other provider's microchips. This
meant that even if your dog had a microchip, it would not be
detected by the scanner.
Scanners are usually distributed to the local pet rescue
community by the microchip vendor, so check with the local
dominant company to see if they are distributing “universal
scanners”. If possible, contact a local vet in the area you
are visiting to see who the dominant pet microchip provider
is in that area.
Make a “Lost Pet” folder and keep a copy in your home and in
Make sure you have a good photo of your pet and create a
“Lost Pet” poster on fluorescent paper that you can start
posting at a moments notice. By having multiple copies
already printed in your home, car or RV, you are ready
should your pet go missing from your home or while you are
away in an unfamiliar area.
If you have multiple pets, you should have a folder for
each. The poster should have a good picture of your pet,
along with a description, date missing, sex, height, approx.
weight, coloring, notable injuries or scars and any special
needs like medications. Do not put your name or address for
security reasons. Offer a reward, but don’t put the amount.
If you live in an area with multiple ethnic groups, you may
want to create your flyers in Spanish or whatever the
prevalent language is for your area.
If possible, withhold at least one identifying
characteristic. This will help identify any scammers that
may try to call. Yes, it is a sad world where we have to
worry about people taking advantage in our darkest hours.
Again, be sure to put down your cell phone number, since
chances are you will also be away from home searching for
your pet. (See Appendix A for a Template)
If you have a newer phone that allows you to store Word or
PDF docs, it would also be useful to keep a copy on your
phone. This way you can email a copy to friends that are
willing to come help, from your home computer or even while
you are out searching.
You can also keep a copy on a memory stick, but I would not
make this my only backup copy. While convenient, I have seen
them fail in the past.
You can also create a free email account with Yahoo/Google
and create a draft email with these documents attached to
the email. This way you can access them from any browser
having Internet access.
In addition to having the poster, you should also have a
list of every 24-hr vet, animal shelter, police station,
rescue & newspaper within your local area. You can use
Google Maps or Yahoo Local to track down this information.
Just enter your zip code as your default location and do
searches on vet, pet rescue, police, etc.
If your pet is lost away from home, this technique is also
extremely helpful for getting this info for the local area
where your pet was last seen.
Write down your pet’s microchip number, as well as the
service provider’s number, so they can be alerted even if
you are not at home. Also keep a copy or original of the
dog's rabies certificate.
Apparently there are some states that will seize the dog if
you are stopped for some reason and don't have proof of
vaccination. Also keep a copy or original envelope of county
Read the fine print on the rabies cert, or on local
licenses. Neither TAG is proof - you must have the paper
certificate, or in the case of the Montgomery County (PA)
dog license, the little envelope that the tag comes in.
Storage of documents
For documents stored in your car, be sure to store them in a
water proof zip lock bag/document case. You can find the
document case at outdoor retailers, such as REI. Fold them with the print facing in, since the heat of the
car can transfer the writing to the plastic case, making the
document hard, if not impossible to read.
Create multiple copies of the poster so you
can start posting them immediately. Keep a heavy duty
stapler w/staples and tape in your car/RV so you can begin
posting flyers immediately.
Keep a powerful flashlight in your car/RV. If your pet is
sick or injured, he/she may hide in dark places and be
unable to come out to you. A strong flashlight can help you
see in dark spaces.
Use your flashlight for checking under houses and other dark
spots. Also check storage sheds, garages, dumpsters, trash
cans, and under cars.
While cell phones are handy when searching with a group,
walkie-talkies can be more convenient. If you are searching
in a local wooded area, walkie-talkies could be helpful.
your Pet goes Missing
appendix C for a condensed version “checklist”)
is of the essence
Unfortunately, the longer your pet is missing, the less
likely your chances of recovering your pet. Many of the tips
are most useful if executed immediately after your pet has
gone missing. By taking a few moments now to put together
your own “Lost Pet” package for each of your pets, you will
be ready to start getting the word out about your pet’s
disappearance. Hand out the flyer to everyone you see in the
area your pet was last seen. You never know who may be able
to help you, so talk to everyone!
Contact the microchip company – Alert the microchip company
immediately, so they can start alerting their network. If
you have registered
pet’s number with more than one company, be sure to alert
the help of friends & family
There truly is strength in numbers! You can’t be everywhere,
so getting help is so important!
are missing your cat, make sure you check in every nook &
cranny in your home! Cats have been known to get themselves
wedged in the smallest of spaces or locked in closets and
basements. Expand your search to under porches, neighbor’s
sheds, garages, etc. While you are out in the area where
you pet was last seen, you can have friends/family handing
out flyers to people in the local area, visiting police
stations, shelters and vets.
Post flyers everywhere – the bigger/brighter the better!
I cannot stress this enough! Telephone poles,
supermarkets, post offices, banks, pet stores, groomers, gas
stations, restaurants, etc….any store window you can find!
Be sure to check back often to see if the poster is missing
Sharon had contacted the local police department when Jesse
went missing, but when the people who found Jesse called;
the police dispatcher did not find the missing pet info
right away. The officers who responded remembered seeing all
the lost dog posters and figured this was the dog and
Make sure you leave enough posters so all carriers &
patrolmen can get a copy. It does not hurt to follow up with
calls after shift changes to make sure the new dispatcher is
aware of your missing pet. Stop patrolmen, delivery people,
postal workers, landscapers, public works people on the
street and make sure they have a copy of your flyer!
Go door to door and talk to people. Many people have pets
and understand what you are going through. You will find
many to be sympathetic and want to help.
biggest thing is to be in the area all the time
giving out posters and searching. If the community
sees you care, then they will care too. Talk to people and
ask questions. Tell people, report it to as many relevant
organizations as possible and constantly call them to check
updates. Get it in the paper, put flyers EVERYWHERE. The
more people who know who your dog is and what he looks like,
the more chances you will have of someone spotting him and
calling you or picking him up.
will be amazed at how much support you will get from the
community. People will come out of the woodwork to help you
and to look for the dog on their own, whether you are aware
of it or not.
There will be times when you feel like you are getting
somewhere...and there will be times when you'll feel like
you are looking for a needle in a haystack. Anything you do
is a step in the right direction. Your dog is a family
Don't give up.
Enlist the help of a 4-legged buddy
a dog may be too scared to come out around strangers, they
may be more inclined to come out around a familiar dog pal.
Bringing a 4-legged buddy can be very helpful! If you don’t
have a 4-legged buddy, bringing your pet's favorite squeaky
toy so he/she can hear a familiar “happy” sound, can help
bring him/her out if hiding in the bushes.
curled up in a wooded yard behind a fence where two Jack
Russells lived. They had been barking at the fence for 4
days before their owner went over to his neighbor to see
what the dogs could be barking at. That is where they found
Spread the word online
– If you belong to any local newsgroups, post a message that
your pet is lost. Chances are that others on the local
list will forward your message and help spread the word
about your pet.
Send an email to all your friends and ask them to forward it
on to anyone in the area. You can place a free classified on
– There are websites like
, which are pay services for automated calls to neighbors in
the area where your pet was last seen. They make automated
calls, giving your lost dog or lost cat message describing
your pet in detail, including your contact number, and our
website address where the recipient can go to view your lost
pet's picture and information. If you have a cat, you can
There is another site called
I have not used this site, but have listed it in case it
could be helpful.
-Missing Pet Partnership is a national, nonprofit
organization dedicated to reuniting lost companion animals
with their owners/guardians. There website offers
behavior-based lost pet recovery tips and referrals to lost
You can also post on Petfinder.com, yahoo groups
Personally visit local shelters, DAILY if possible
Calling shelters is not always enough. Many times, shelter
workers may not know the difference between breeds/colors.
Find out the holding period of each animal control and
humane shelter. Be aware of how much time you have to claim
your pet before it is euthanized! There have been many
stories of a pet being euthanized or adopted out, even
though the pet owner had called the shelter about the
missing pet. Make sure you leave a copy of your pet's lost
poster. Make friends with the shelter folks so they all know
you are looking for your pet.
Ask Animal Control, humane societies, and shelters about pet
rescue organizations in your area.
Usually there are smaller pet rescue groups that work with
the local humane shelter. They often take pets from the
shelter to save them from euthanasia and adopt them out to
Call the rescue groups regularly to see if they have your
Contact Breed Specific Rescues –
rescues may not be local, but pull dogs from shelters if
they find out about them. So if you are missing your Great
Dane, be sure to contact all the Great Dane or Large Breed
Rescues in your state.
Check out all the local papers for Found Pets and place a
Lost Pet classified
Believe it or not, not everyone uses the Internet on a
regular basis. With consolidation in the newspaper industry,
sometimes one paper owns many of the smaller papers and
shares a single call center for classifieds.
Rather than picking up every paper, a single call to the
call center can check a number of publications classifieds
in a single call.
tend to move in the early mornings
(5am-7am) or at dusk. Be sure you are out looking during
those time frames. Check out Appendix B for a better
understanding of your dog's behavior, based on his/her
an unfamiliar area, get a few local maps.
is helpful to get familiar with the layout, as well as
giving you the ability to divide the search area up into
sections between all your helpers.
to do once you have a sighting
Get the Pet Owner to that spot.
Once you have a spotting, let the owner go to that spot; all
others create a wide circle around that area but let the
owner quietly call. Bring a familiar 4-legged friend if
Gather up the clothes in your hamper.
At dusk, leave a crate with some of your dirty clothes and
some food/water. Leave more clothes around, creating a scent
trail back to the crate.
Get permission when entering private property.
Once the dog is sighted, if it happens on private property,
be SURE to ask permission of the owner to go onto the
property and let him/her know how many people will be
involved. Be sure to be polite and respectful.
Words of Caution
Unfortunately, there are dangerous people in our society who
prey upon victims by using "found" pets as a ploy.
respond to a "found" pet contact alone. Take a friend or two
along with you. Arrange to meet in a public place.
the person to your home unless you happen to know them well.
of money scams.
common one is a person calls you claiming to be a long-haul
trucker. He says he picked up your pet and is out of state
now. He heard about your ad, flyer, etc. and says he will
return your pet if you will pay to ship it home. This person
does not have your pet; he is only trying to take your
wander around looking for your pet alone,
during the day or at night. Always bring a friend or
relative. This is especially important in unfamiliar
the identifying information you have withheld about your
remember that you should never give out all of the
identifying features of your lost pet. If the person who
claims to have found your pet cannot describe these features
to you, they do not have your pet!
You Find Your Pet
around and collect up all of your old flyers.
placed your dog's missing information online, make sure you
go back and mark them as “safe”.
everybody who has helped you.
Give your pet a big hug and let him/her know how happy you
are to have them home again!
Appendix A: Flyer
Appendix B: Factors That Influence Distances Traveled
Copyright protected – Reprinted with
permission from the Missing Pet Partnership @
There are six major factors that influence
the distances that a lost dog will travel: Temperament,
Circumstances, Weather, Terrain, Appearance, and Population
Temperament of the Dog
a dog behaves towards strangers influences how far it will
travel (when lost) before someone intervenes and rescues it.
There are three primary behavioral categories of lost dogs:
Gregarious Dogs, Aloof Dogs, and Xenophobic Dogs.
Gregarious Dogs: Wiggly-butt,
friendly dogs are more inclined to go directly up to the
first person who calls them. Depending on the terrain and
population density where the dog was lost, these dogs will
generally be found fairly close to home or will be picked up
by someone close to the escape point. Gregarious dogs are
often "adopted" by individuals (not shelter or rescue
workers) who find them.
Aloof Dogs: Dogs with aloof temperaments are wary of
strangers and will initially avoid human contact. They will
be inclined to accept human contact only after they have
overcome fear issues and become hungry enough. While these
dogs can travel a great distance, aloof dogs eventually can
be enticed with food and patience, typically by experienced
rescuers who know how to approach and capture a wary dog.
These dogs are often recovered by rescue group volunteers,
and their wariness can be easily misinterpreted as "abused."
In addition, these dogs are often not recovered for weeks or
months after their escape, giving them the physical
appearance (thinness, injuries, stickers, ticks, etc.) that
they are homeless, abused, and unloved.
Xenophobic (Fearful) Dogs:
Xenophobia means "fear or hatred of things strange or
foreign." Dogs with xenophobic temperaments (due to genetics
and/or puppyhood experiences) are more inclined to travel
farther and are at a higher risk of being hit by cars. Due
to their cowering, fearful behavior, people assume these
dogs were "abused," and even if the dog has ID tags, they
will refuse to contact the previous owner. Some of these
panic-stricken dogs will even run from their owners! It may
be necessary to use other dogs to get close enough to
capture them or to use baited dog traps.
Circumstances Surrounding the Disappearance
A dog that digs out from a yard to explore
a scent will tend to travel a short distance before it is
found meandering and doubling back as it explores a scent.
On the other hand, a dog that bolts in panic due to
fireworks or thunder will take off at a blind run and can
run for several miles.
Weather: A dog that escapes on a beautiful spring day
may travel farther than one that escapes in a snowstorm.
Extreme weather conditions (snow, hail, rain, and sweltering
heat) will decrease the distances that lost dogs travel.
Terrain: A dog that escapes in a
residential area will not travel as far as a dog that
escapes in a mountainous area. Fences that create barriers
will influence a dog's travel since a dog will tend to take
the "path of least resistance" when traveling. Cactus, heavy
brush, and steep cliffs can be barriers that influence
whether a dog continues on a path or changes directions.
Appearance of the Dog: What a dog looks like can
influence how quickly it will be picked up by a rescuer. In
general, most people are less inclined to pull over and
attempt to grab a loose Pit Bull they perceive as being
"aggressive" than they would a "friendly" Labrador
Retriever. Also, size matters as people are more inclined to
pick up small dogs because they look vulnerable and are
easier to transport and house than large dogs. In addition,
people are more likely to attempt to rescue a purebred dog
that they perceive to have value than a mixed breed dog.
When average motorists see a mixed breed dog trotting down
the sidewalk, their impression is often that the dog belongs
in the neighborhood or that it is a homeless stray. But when
those same people see a Boston Terrier, they are inclined to
believe that, because it is a "valuable purebred dog," it
must be a lost pet.
Population Density: A dog
that escapes in Manhattan will travel a shorter distance
than will a dog that escapes in the Rockies or in rural
farmland. When dogs escape into areas with a high number of
people, their chances of being found close to the escape
point are increased. But in areas with an extremely low
number of people, dogs tend to travel farther and their
chances of being found close to the escape point are
decreased. A dog that escapes in the middle of the night
will travel farther before being seen than a dog that
escapes during rush hour traffic.
Dog owners often behave in ways that actually inhibit their
chances of recovering their lost dogs. Some develop a "wait
and see" approach (believing their dog will return home like
Lassie) and by the time they start actively looking, the
vital first few hours to locate the dog (or witnesses who
saw the dog) are gone.
Others develop "tunnel vision" and fail to find their dog
because they focus on wrong theories. They assume their dog
was "stolen and sold to research" when in fact their dog
might have been rescued and put up for adoption through a
local adoption event. They experience "grief avoidance" and
quickly give up their search effort because they really
believe they will never see their dog again. They feel
helpless and alone, often discouraged by others who rebuke
them and tell them "it was just a dog" and "you'll never
find your dog."
In addition, the
level of human animal bond (HAB) will influence the recovery
efforts. People with a strong HAB will go to extremes to
find their lost dog. They will accomplish the "impossible"
task of visiting all shelters, posting flyers, and
contacting rescue groups while maintaining a full-time job
and other family commitments. On the other hand, people with
a weak HAB will quickly become discouraged, assume they will
never see their dog again, and will stop searching.
Behaviors That Create Problems
People who find
stray dogs often misinterpret the dog's behavior; they
assume that the cowering, fearful dog was "abused" when in
fact the dog has a xenophobic temperament and has been shy
and fearful since it was a puppy, due to genetics and
Dogs found in rural areas are often assumed to be "dumped"
and homeless; many rescuers never think this could be a dog
that was lost. Some people who find a stray dog that does
not have a collar automatically assume it is "homeless" and
therefore they immediately work to place the dog rather than
attempt to find the dog's owner.
In addition, the
first place the owner of a lost dog will search for his or
her dog the local shelter - is typically the last place that
someone who finds a loose dog will take it (due to the fear
Appendix C: Finding Your Pet
Search all areas of your
Contact the microchip company
Enlist the help of friends &
Post flyers everywhere - the
bigger/brighter the better
Enlist the help of a 4-legged
Spread the word online
Personally visit local
shelters, DAILY if possible
Ask Animal Control, humane
societies, and shelters about pet rescue organizations in
Contact breed specific rescues
Check out all the local papers
for Found Pets and place a Lost Pet classified
Dogs tend to move in the early
mornings/dusk, make sure you are out there
If in an unfamiliar area, get
a few local maps
What to do once you have a
Get the Pet Owner to that
Gather up the clothes in
Get permission when
entering private property
permission from Ronnie Daldos, President,