Your pet is lost -- now what do you do?

Ask any pet “parent” and they’ll tell you — having your dog or cat go missing is a traumatic experience.

Even the most homebody pet can stray — wander off to check out a squirrel or another dog, and all of a sudden they’re lost.

Since July is being called “Lost Pet Prevention Month,” here are some tips from the Humane Society of the U.S. on what to do if that happens to you.

  • Contact animal shelters within a 60-mile radius of your home and file a lost pet report with each one. Also call your local animal control officer. If you can’t find out who handles animal control for your area, call your local police department and ask.
  • Walk around your neighborhood several times a day and ask everyone you see. Also hand out a flyer with a limited description of your pet and your phone number on it. (You don’t want to give too much information away since there are a lot of people out there that will try to take advantage.)
  • Post your flyer everywhere — the supermarket, veterinary offices, any place you can tape it up.

Like I eluded to above, the HSUS warns to be wary of people who may call and say they have your pet without being able to provide a detailed description. They may be engaging in a “pet-recovery scam.”

Now here are some of my ideas:

If you can, personally visit your local shelter and ask to see all the dogs (or cats) that have arrived there within the time frame your pet has gone missing. Shelter employees often do not know about or remember every animal that comes in.

A friend of mine actually found her lost cat by looking on Petfinder! The cat was taken to the local shelter and placed for adoption, even though she had filled out a lost pet report with them. That’s why it’s so important to actually visit the shelter.

Call local veterinary offices and let them know your pet is missing. Also, if you’re on Facebook, use that as a way to further get the word out. A couple I know got an army of volunteers, including a dog-sniffing dog, to help find their dog by posting on Facebook.

And of course, before your pet goes missing, make sure they’re wearing a collar with tags all the time!

But one of the best ways to make sure Buddy or Fluffy gets home safe is with a microchip.

That’s a tiny device, as small as a grain of rice, that’s implanted just under your pet’s skin that contains all of your contact information on it. And all shelters scan any dogs or cats that come in to see if they’re owned. Even some veterinary offices do it with new patients.

Just make sure your pet’s chip is registered with all your current info, or it’s worthless. Ask your vet if he registers the chip or if you have to.

And take a deep breath and relax. A new study found that up to 93 percent of dogs, and 75 percent of cats do get back home safely.


“What to do if you lose your pet” The Humane Society of the United States,