FB page run by local volunteers in Florida has lost pets search tips
FB page run by local volunteers in Florida has lost pets search tips

If your dog or cat ever went missing, would you know these lost pets search tips and be able to implement them without hesitation? This may be a hypothetic question. Or perhaps you’ve already had to deal with such an unfortunate experience at some time in the past. In any case, it’s worth knowing the basics. Ones that every pet parent should follow when getting the word out that they have lost a companion animal.


Before going any further, I just want to make a comment. This article was one of the very first I published when I launched my site a few years ago. However, now the content has been updated and expanded to offer more tips about lost and found pets. What’s more, I’ve also included first-hand accounts of success stories as well as valuable information from animal experts. 

So, please check this out in its entirety. There is no doubt in my mind that it will make you better equipped and more confident. You will be able to help yourself as well as others get reunited with their beloved canines and felines.

Make a missing pet flyer and nail it to a tree or wooden post. Photo courtesy of petfbi.org
Make a missing pet flyer and nail it to a tree or wooden post.
Photo courtesy of petfbi.org


Family Member Tells Her Side Of This Success Story

Last January two Miniature Schnauzers went missing from their home in a golfing community in Oldsmar, FL. Without the occupants realizing, the terriers had ripped a hole in the screening and fled. My guess is they were reacting to wildlife and decided to give chase.

“It was mid afternoon when I noticed the dogs were gone,” said the lady. She had been at the home assisting her older relatives, the pets’ parents. Incidentally, she declined to give her name and wanted the family to remain anonymous.

The Search Gets Underway

“We called out their names, knocked on doors, stopped everyone riding a bicycle,” she added. “But after four hours it was already dark and we called off the search.” The lady explained that they then notified the microchip company in case someone had reported them found.

Found But Searching For Their Home

What they did next was publish a missing pets post on the local Nextdoor website. It was seen by neighbors in another subdivision who had given the dogs food, water and shelter overnight. And, fortunately for everyone, their own pet Husky was delighted to have some unexpected fun with the new visitors…at least for a few hours. 

Thankfully, the next day, after less than 24 hours of anxiety, the dogs were back home. This was such a great outcome. And, I even heard that all three pups may now be enjoying regular playdates as a result of this incident!


I have always said this to pet guardians who rely solely on a microchip ID. When pets go missing, one form of identification is not enough! If the animal has a collar and tag on, this visible ID will likely save a lot of time and heartache. You can read more about this by clicking here http://petpeevesunmasked.com/one-pet-id-isnt-enough

When pets go missing, they look stressed and afraid Photo credit: Paul Sableman, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
When pets go missing, they look stressed and scared
Photo credit: Paul Sableman, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How To Get Them Home Again

Use The Internet And Social Media

  • Post a description with photo of your missing pet and your contact information. Re-post daily until it is found.
  • Check the section that contains postings of missing pets that are looking for their owners. 

Flyers, Always High On The Lost Pet Search Tips List

  • Immediately print some flyers and put them up in your neighborhood.
  • Make an extra big one and display it in your own yard so people know where the pet lives.
Make a found pet flyer and post it outdoors. Photo courtesy of petfbi.org
Make a found pet flyer and post it outdoors.
Photo courtesy of petfbi.org

More Lost Pet Search Tips And Tools

  • private, locally-run pet lost and found
  • Craig’s List
  • Facebook
  • Local newspapers, online AND print versions (lost and found ads are usually free)
  • Your Home Owners Association, country club, school, church…

The great thing about having a professional profile on LinkedIn is that you meet some interesting and very talented people. I joined several groups whose members share information on cats and dogs. In one of these I met T Mac, who has spent her whole life rescuing and advocating for companion animals and livestock. 

She gave me a number of very helpful recommendations to include in this new expanded list of websites. Places to go where parents have more options to locate their pets when they go missing. 

Check out these search tips to get your lost pet home Photo credit: Niks1331, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Check out these search tips to get your lost pet home
Photo credit: Niks1331, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More Lost & Found Websites To Visit

It takes perseverance and consistency to locate a missing pet. You will probably be unable to post, and look at them all, repeatedly, without any help. Ask friends, family and neighbors to assist. Anyone reliable who will check for updates. Several times a day, every single day, until they are safely back home. Ask them to focus on one website each. Sharing the responsibility will help prevent stress and psychological burnout, especially if the job takes longer than you had hoped.




“A lost or missing dog locating service that can dramatically increase the chances of finding your lost dog, missing cat, or stolen pet.”

Create a free lost or found pet listing. Through their national lost pet recovery system, they will email and fax it to local shelters, vets and rescue groups.



“If you have lost or found a pet please add a free listing and search our lost and found database by city, state or postal code to see if you can find a match. If you find a possible match, make note of the reference number and contact us.” 

This is a nationwide lost and found pet recovery database. When you register your pet’s microchip, and report your pet lost or stolen, an alert is immediately sent to shelters, vets, animal companies and members within a 25 mile radius of where it was last seen. 


Register to obtain the phone number

“Register your Safe Dog and your Safe Cat BEFORE they ever get lost. 

“With safe dog/safe cat registration you will receive notifications any time a dog of the same breed, color and gender, or cat of the same color and gender, is found in your exact Postal Code.” 

In addition to contacting local shelters and vets, they will also email Neighborhood Watch about your lost or found dog/cat.

This is a registry for pets in the USA and Canada, and they have named their canine and feline databases Fido Finder and Tabby Tracker.


“Sign up for local lost pet alerts. Join the PawBoost Rescue Squad, a group of volunteers, rescue owners, shelter employees, veterinarians, and pet lovers just like you.” 

And over three million of them already have. Sign up for email alerts. To get PawBoost on the go, download the PawBoost mobile app for iPhone or Android. 



“Call our Helpline to let us know your pet is lost and confirm your contact information is up to date. You can also activate a Lost Pet Alert to shelters, veterinarians and pet lovers in your immediate area.”

A lifetime enrollment to the American Kennel Club website is only $19.50 online and there are no annual fees. If your pet’s microchip was purchased with prepaid registration, enrollment is free.

And, by the way, you’ll be hearing from T Mac next time in a follow up article. But, for now, go check out Canine Protection League non-profit in Vermont, where she is president. I’d really like to help her continue to help the helpless and give a boost to her fundraising efforts. http://www.CanineProtectionLeague.com

Another example of how to create a missing pet flyer
Another example of how to create a missing pet flyer

Go In Person To Your Local Municipal Shelter

When pets go missing, a member of the public or someone from Animal Services may have already found the dog or cat and taken it to the local municipal shelter. So, please remember to do the following.

  • Go in person and verify if your pet has been surrendered there. Do not rely on making a phone call or looking at their website.
  • Take a recent photo of your pet, a copy of a flyer you may have already printed, and proof of ownership.
  • Check the shelter’s website for postings. However, bear in mind that descriptions are not necessarily accurate and a staff member could have taken a photo that distorts its appearance. 
  • You must visit the shelter personally every two days at the very least, preferably daily. Do not rely solely on the shelter’s website. You are the only person who can truly identify your pet.
  • Each shelter has its own rules and regulations, and hold times at different facilities can vary quite a bit. After a certain number of days, a pet can be put up for adoption or, sadly, it may be put down (destroyed). Typically, kittens, cats and seniors, as well as sick and injured pets, have a very low survival rate.

Word Of Mouth

Inform as many people as possible who live or work in your area. That includes veterinarians, emergency vet clinics and privately-run rescue organizations.

Stay Strong And Positive

The volunteers who run a Lost and Found FB page for pets in my area do a wonderful job. They also encourage owners who feel helpless and desperate and are starting to lose hope. They will…

  1. tell you not to despair
  2. encourage you not to give up too soon 
  3. urge you to keep searching actively for at least 8-12 weeks

To Sum Up

Reach out to your neighbors. Communities have a history of working together to help in situations of adversity. Nobody wants to suffer the heartbreak of losing their four-legged family member.

Start a search party the very first weekend. You’ll be amazed how many people will show up to help. And, when pets go missing in your neighborhood, not only will you be better prepared to take action, you’ll also be able to help others.

But That’s Not All

No, it isn’t, because there’s much more coming your way very soon. This topic is far too important not to share what I’m already preparing for the next article. 

So, get ready for information about:

  • contacting shelters 
  • more success stories from Florida
  • tips on how to prevent your pet from wandering off in the first place                                             
  • providing medical attention for animals taken to a municipal shelter in Colorado, and
  • an exciting pilot program to evaluate new imaging software designed to increase Return To Owner success rates.

See you soon!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe! 

More must-read articles in this category:

Pet guardians forget that dogs have wild instincts and can easily run off https://petpeevesunmasked.com/dogs-run-away-because/

What pet parents did to reunite with their precious canine and feline family members after they went missing https://petpeevesunmasked.com/helpful-strategies-find-pets/

Chip scan 24/7/365 to get a missing pet back home http://petpeevesunmasked.com/take-lost-pets-here-for-microchip-scanning/

Missing pets that end up at shelters often lack veterinary care but private animal hospitals are donating their services to save lives https://petpeevesunmasked.com/lost-pets-deserve-veterinary-care/

And, a reminder about the importance of having more than just one ID https://petpeevesunmasked.com/one-pet-id-isnt-enough

Also, if you’d like to read about the safety concerns of domesticated cats that are allowed to roam, please visit https://petpeevesunmasked.com/indoor-outdoor-cat-statistics/