Contact your veterinarian, shelters, and animal control
Animal control should be one of the first calls you make. Have a detailed description of your missing pet ready and take a current photo when going to pick up. They may also need to see vaccination records.
Anytime your pet goes missing, you should also contact your veterinarian. They may have access to certain resources and information that you may not. They will also be able to provide you with current and up-to-date vaccination records.
Make a call to your local shelters including the local SPCA and Humane Society. They will be able to let you know if they have received or found a lost dog or cat matching your pet’s description. Start with those closest to home first.
Make use of social media and other online resources
Everything is done digitally these days! Social media is not only a great time-passer and a terrific way to keep in touch with those you love, but it can also come in handy with a missing pet. Social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help to get the word out quickly. Facebook is especially powerful because there are a number of posting options. When posting on your personal account, tag all your friends, family, local businesses and shelters. If the response is low, try sending direct messages. Not so obvious features are pet pages and forums. These range from lost pet pages and groups to breed specific pages and groups. Look for those in your area using the search bar.
Other online resources include pet forums, classified sites such as Craigslist, and websites like Petfinder. Again, look for your city or area and post to these the minute you’re sure your pet is missing.
Keep in mind, you should also be checking these online resources to see if anyone has made a “found pet” post.
While digital is the new ‘it’ thing, old school flyers are still an effective way to alert your community about your lost pet. Get these out as soon as possible, the first 24 hours are critical to finding your pet before they leave the area. Make sure they include a current photo and all the identifying features you can think of including any identifying marks, names (including “pet names”), and vaccinations. Make a stack of flyers to hang around the neighborhood and pass out to neighbors. Offer contact info for you, and if you’re able, you might want to offer a reward. You should also inquire to local shops about displaying them in the windows.
Tip: Depending on where you live, it may help to put your fliers in a plastic sleeve to protect them from getting wet.
Canvas the neighborhood
Good old footwork. Scouring the neighborhood is also an important step. Ask anyone you see if they have seen your lost pet. Be sure to have some of those flyers ready. Also, check any locations in which you frequently take your pet or places they recognize. Pets tend to navigate to familiar areas or locations before venturing out into the unknown. Have someone stay at home in case your pet returns and have your cell phone with you to take any possible calls about your pet.
Preparation Is Key
Pet I.D: A pet I.D is incredibly important. They have cheap ones than can be made on the spot, in places like Walmart and Petsmart.
Vaccination records: Your pet should be up-to-date on all necessary vaccines. It is a good idea to keep a copy of their vaccination records. If your pet gets lost and picked up by animal control, you will need this.
Current Photographs: A clear, non-blurry, recent photo is crucial to your missing pet search. Even better if in printed form.
MICROCHIP!!!: Sorry about the yelling, but this is so very important. It is super cheap, does not hurt the pet, and can be the difference between seeing your pet again versus… not. Microchipping is the easiest, most sure-fire way to prove ownership.
Spay/Neuter your pet: Not to sound all Bob Barker from the Price is Right, but not only do unfixed animals result in an overpopulation of homeless and unwanted pets, but a pet who is not fixed is much more likely to wander off. Always spay and/or neuter your pets, folks.
Safety: If left unsupervised, be sure that your pet is in a safe, secure, preferably fenced-in, area. If being walked in public, your pet should be leashed at all times, and in many places, this is a law.
Having a lost pet is no doubt heartbreaking, however, by taking the right steps, you can often end up with a positive outcome. Being fully prepared will help increase the chance that you will find your pet, and they will be back in your arms in no time.
-Eyal Azerad (firstname.lastname@example.org)