Tips For Finding A Lost Pet

Having a lost pet can be one of the most heart-wrenching moments of a pet owner’s life. It can also be overwhelming figuring out how to start the search process. I’ve lost a pet and helped dozens of friends and family find their pets. Based on these experiences, I’ve listed a few recommendations that may help you if you’re ever in this situation.

Have photos of your pet on hand – Searching high and low to find pictures of pets in a hurry can be very stressful.  Keep front and side view photos of your pets on your phone or computer at all times. These can be used to quickly post online or make posters.

Have your pet always wear an embroidered collar with name and phone number –
While pets are technically required to wear a rabies tag and county license, they can easily fall off of a collar. Same with small, metal ID tags. An embroidered collar with a phone number is an easy, quick way that a lost pet’s owner can be contacted at any time of day.lost-cat

Use microchips and keep contact information current – A microchip is a tiny integrated circuit about the size of a grain of rice, that is implanted by your veterinarian underneath the pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades, on the neck. The chips each have a unique number and are identified using a handheld scanner. Most veterinarians, animal control facilities and officers have microchip scanners. The only downfall of microchips is that you, as the pet owner, must be proactive in registering with the microchip company and keeping your contact information current. Your veterinarian can help you with this process. Please remember to list a friend or relative who lives out of state as an alternative contact. After Hurricane Katrina, there were hundreds of microchipped dogs and cats found, but because phones and vet offices were inaccessible, there was no way of identifying many of the pets. Locally, CMPD Animal Care and Control has a free microchip registration service, which is easily accessed on their website.

Contact your vet and local animal control – Contact your veterinarian as soon as you can, regarding your lost pet. Call other veterinarians, groomers and pet stores in your area and, if possible, provide a photo. City and county local police departments often provide animal control and have lost and found pet services. CMPD Animal Care and Control can be contacted via the 311 service, and has a very comprehensive lost and found page on their website.

Use social media – Post through your own personal social media and also ask your vet, friends, social groups and family to do the same. The FaceBook page “Lost & Found Dogs-North Carolina” does a wonderful job posting notices from all over the state. The website also has postings for local animals.

Print and post flyers – This “old school” method is still very effective. Print flyers and post in your neighborhood on stop signs, community clubhouses, pet stores, vet offices, and post offices. Be sure to include a photo of the lost pet.

Visit animal shelters and animal control frequently – Many of these organizations are overwhelmed with pets and underwhelmed with staff. Your black lab might be listed as a black shepherd mix on their service page! Visiting the actual shelter frequently is always best.

Get your smell out there – Placing clothing or bedding items in areas where your pet may have been or near your home may help them find their way back to you. Placing food and items of clothing in an open carrier may also help.

Keep the faith – There are many heartwarming stories of pets being found years after being lost, just don’t give up the search!

Originally published February 2016 in the Lake Norman Citizen.

Dr. Kay Wahl is a veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for 20 years. For more information, call 704-948-6300.