Losing your dog or cat is a very traumatic and overwhelming experience, but taking quick action will increase your chances of getting your pet home as safely and quickly as possible.
Lost Pet Action Plan
Begin your search immediately! Do not wait for your pet to come home. The sooner you start, the greater the chance that your dog will be returned.
Make Phone Calls. Call your local Municipal Pound Facility, Animal Control offices, police department, veterinarians, and animal shelters within a 20-mile radius. Give them current information (color of collar, tags, current pictures, breed etc.) Remember, just because you lost your pet in one county, it may show up in another surrounding county, especially in the Roanoke/Salem, Bedford/Botetourt, Roanoke/Franklin, and Roanoke/Bedford areas with close proximity to another municipal jurisdiction.
Verify Microchip Information. If your pet has a microchip, contact the microchip company to make sure your pet’s registration is up-to-date with current phone numbers and contact information.
Begin Looking. Start close and expand. Start in the house and look in every closet, cabinet, bureau drawer, air duct, behind appliances, under beds, in the hollow under reclining chairs, under couches, wrapped in the bottom of drapes or blankets, behind clothes washer and dryer in any hidden recesses, basement crawl spaces, apartment hallways. Check your bushes, garage, under vehicles, and other small den-like areas on your property to see if your dog is frightened and hiding. 15% of dogs are still on the owner’s property. Then, have your neighbors check their yard, under porches, garages, open basements, sheds, under boat docks, window wells, barns, broken down cars, and chicken coops. Remember to ask permission before going on their property.
Electric Fencing. If your dog bolted out of your electric fence, please turn off the electric fence so your dog will be able to get back into his or her own yard.
Search Prepared. Don’t go out anywhere without a leash, towels, box (for cats), etc. with you. You would be amazed how many people forget this one simple item and lose the pet again after capturing it! Also don’t forget the stinky, high-value treats such as hot dogs, etc. to lure them back in.
Lure Them Back. Place a blanket/crate where your pet was last seen and put bowl of smelly food (canned Alpo, canned Pedigree, ect.) or human food in bowl near the blanket. If you or a friend has a hunting trail camera, set it up in this location. Please put out an article of your clothing (socks, dirty t-shirts) at the location where your pet was last seen. There is a good chance that your pet may return.
Spread the Word. Post to all Internet and Facebook sites you can think of. Be sure to put an ad on Craigslist and in the paper right away. Put ads in both the daily paper and any weekly community papers that your local town might publish. Don’t forget to read the local papers to see if there’s a FOUND DOG ad for your dog. Consider using FindToto.org for EMERGENCY PHONE ALERT for lost pets. They will telephone Alerts to 1000’s of your neighbors within minutes and immediately delivers a description of your lost dog, lost cat or stolen pet.
Make a Flyer. Create a simple flier w/large type and print 250 Copies to start (color can be expensive, so at the very least use color paper) Your flier should be kept simple and readable and have two phone numbers on it. Please put in plastic sheet protectors with an opening on the bottom and be sure to staple in all four corners, and facing the direction of travel. Most dogs are recovered within 2 to 3 miles of their home. Put signs up in your neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods with a current, clear picture of your dog. Intersection signs work great in the city and rural areas.
DO NOT CHASE! Remember if you spot your pet do not chase him, call him or whistle. This could cause him to panic and run into traffic and possibly cause him or her great injury.
Check in Person! Physically go to animal shelters, animal control offices, and Vet Offices and hand them a flyer. Remember to include Microchip identification numbers if applicable and ask that they scan and verify ownership of any pet matching the description and photo you provided. Be sure to check your local animal shelters in person. Your version of a brown dog may not be the same as someone else. In addition, be sure to go multiple times.