What To Do if You've Lost a Pet
Losing your pet is devastating but there is hope. Here are the steps you should take immediately to improve your pet’s chances of returning home:
MOST IMPORTANT: If you don’t find your pet in the first 48 hours, your chances of success greatly diminish. Please do all the following as soon as possible. Take the day off of work or school -- this IS an emergency.
Most lost pets are within one mile of their home and in the care of a well-meaning neighbor. Make signs! These don’t need to be elaborate, so don’t bother with the age or the dog’s favorite trick - the fewer words the better. You want a sign that someone driving by can read without slowing down:
LOST BLACK FEMALE DOG / THE DATE LOST / MY PHONE NUMBER
That’s all the information a person needs. There probably aren’t so many lost black dogs in your neighborhood that you need to elaborate.
All neighborhoods have entrance and exit points. Put a sign at each entrance/exit to your neighborhood and those of adjoining neighborhoods. Everyone will see these signs as they go to work/school and someone WILL have seen your pet. Make it easy on the sighter/finder by getting your information out where they can see it. When I lose a pet, I put at least FIFTY signs out within the first twenty-four hours. With this blanket attack, I have never permanently lost a dog.
(Be sure to take your signs back down when the dog is found so your neighbors will help you again the next time.)
Even with all the signs out there, you want to personally notify as many people around your home as possible. Get out your business cards that already have your phone number and write “LOST BLACK FEMALE DOG across it in marker. Stick one in the door of all of your neighbors if they don’t answer. Hand one to every neighbor who does answer. And especially -- go out in the early morning and evening to share cards with all those dedicated walkers/runners getting their exercise.
THE LOCAL SHELTERS
This is of the utmost importance because even if found, your pet could die a horrible death at a shelter. VISIT your local shelters-- calling is NOT good enough. Take photos to hand out to any employee who will take one. Post photos on any provided bulletin board. Ask at every shelter what other shelters are in town-- don’t take a chance that the one person you didn't ask knew. After only three days, a lot pet is usually owned by the shelter it was turned in to. After only three days, your pet can legally be killed by the shelter (often in horrible ways). If the pet comes in hurt (even with something simple stitches will fix), the shelter will kill your pet. GET TO THE SHELTERS AT LEAST EVERY OTHER DAY.
Please. I cannot stress this enough. Look for yourself. Take no one’s word that your pet is not there waiting for you.
YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER
There are still so many people in this world who have never used the internet and aren’t about to start just to help your lost pet. These people will be watching the newspaper for a lost pet ad, and if they don’t see it, chances are they won't look much further. In my city a “found” pet ad is free, but a lost pet ad is about $50. Please call your local newspaper and spend that money. If the person who found your pet is not in your neighborhood, they won’t have seen the signs you put up. Put an ad in the newspaper to save your pet.
Again, most people will do a thing or two to find the pet’s owner. Be sure you do ALL of them, so your pet will be that one place they look.
- Pima County Pound Intake List
- Tucson Newspapers
- Tucson Craigslist - excellent resource. Post every 3 days in Lost and Found, and in Pets
- Humane Society of Southern Arizona
- FidoFinder.com (for dogs)
- TabbyTracker.com (for cats)
- BirdHotline.com (for birds)