First things to do:
- Walk your neighborhood
- Notify your neighbors or those in the vicinity of where your pet was lost
- Notify the Shelter(s)
- Notify all the veterinarian clinics in your area
- Notify pet stores, groomers, etc.
- Make big COLORFUL signs. These need to be eye catching signs. Include the word Reward in big letters and include a photo of your pet. If you don't have a good photo, then create one by copying an image off the internet that looks like your pet. Pictures are a VERY big help!! Put these signs in locations, major intersections, traffic lights and stop signs, schools, etc. where there are lots of people passing by and places that the sign will be noticeable.
Odds are strong that you will recover your pet if you are diligent in your search and you get the word out wide and well.
Why Pets Run Away and Where They Often Go
How far they run is just a function of how far their legs will carry them. Big strong dogs, especially young ones, can run 5 miles or more. Small dogs may be able to go half a mile at most. Most dogs are recovered well within a two-mile circle of their home, especially because they normally will never run for an extended length in a straight line no matter how strong or fast they are.
If it is an outgoing dog, it will be looking for other dogs and for other humans who are friendly and likely to comfort, feed and shelter it. Neighbors' yards and public parks are spots it will like. If it is a shy or older pet and not trusting of strangers, it will hide. Bushes and under cars are good spots.
This is especially true of cats. Friendly, outgoing and confident cats may wander quite a ways. Shy, timid cats are more likely to hide close by. Search your house thoroughly. Crawl spaces, drop ceilings, open walls, closets, etc. Don’t underestimate what small spaces your cat can get into. Also look for shy cats in neighbor’s basements, garages, etc. They may hole up in these spaces until night or when things quiet down and then come out. Also they may stay in such places until the call for food overwhelms them and they emerge. Shy animals generally do not travel far but hide well.
Keep in mind that if you pet is friendly at all, the odds are great that someone has seen your pet and taken it in. People normally will respond favorably to a lost pet. Even households who do not have a pet will often help lost animals. There are a lot of strangers who are on the side of finding and helping your pet return home.
So in many cases, someone will take in your pet. They will be driving by and have your dog jump in their car. They will be working in the neighborhood. They may live down the street. More often than not, they will not be equipped to house your pet. Their home is not set up. Their landlord doesn't allow pets. Their parents will not allow it. They don't want to bring a strange dog into the yard with their dogs.
People take lost pets to local veterinarians, animal hospitals, kennels, groomers, even pet stores. They take them to our Shelter and sometimes if traveling through the area, they will take them to their own shelter which may be miles away. This is why it is so important to notify shelters beyond our local shelter.
Sometimes, and only rarely, do people try to keep a pet that is not theirs. There are neighbors, friends, children, and all the people who come to a home to service its needs that have the opportunity to see that pet. That is a lot of eyes seeing a new pet arrive.
How do you cover all these possibilities? How do you help put the odds back into your favor?
The Logical Steps to Finding Your Pet
You have already done tons of looking. It hasn't worked yet. Take a deep breath. Let's start all over again.
- Think about the most likely reason your pet ran away. Think about the size and fitness of your pet.
- Let's draw a circle around the spot you lost your pet. Half a mile? A mile? Five miles? You decide.
- Let's think about the places in that circle where you pet would likely go to find company, comfort and food. A school yard? A house where your pet sometimes gets treats or has a buddy it looks at during walks? A stranger's open car door?
- Let's think about all the people who live inside that circle, who go to school there, who play in the yards, who come and mow the lawns and deliver the mail and read the gas meters and deliver the packages. People who spend lots of time outside and are likely to see a lost dog. People who drive through your part of the world regularly as part of their work, who you don't know and who don't know you.
- Mailcarriers are an excellent resource for helping you find your pet as they travel on foot usually throughout your neighborhood and have ample opportunity to have seen your pet. They also know who are pet owners in the area and will often notice new animals in their territory. Ask the mailman!!!
- You need to make up big signs, colorful, eye catching signs. You need to include the word "Reward" in big letters, to make everyone understand that this is really important to you. You have to include a photo of your pet. If you don't have an appealing photo, then you can create one by copying an image off the internet that looks like your pet. Pictures are a VERY big help!!
- You want to put the signs where the most people who either live, work, or regularly travel through the circle will have a chance to slow down and see them. Major intersections controlled by traffic lights or stop signs. Or businesses where lots of people visit.
- You need to get your sign to the groomers, vets, kennels, animal hospitals, animal shelters and pet stores in the area at least double the size of your circle. Don't be shy.
- Get the names and addresses of shelters in the 3 to 5 adjoining counties. Notify them as well.
- You can run an ad in the local paper's classified section for lost pets. Check the found ads as well.
- And check back at all these places on a regular basis. While they have your information, they may see many animals everyday and not be able to recognize your animal quickly. Visit them often and remind them about your lost pet, show them the flyer again to keep your pet in their memory.
The more people that know about your lost pet and are reminded of them, the better your chance of finding your beloved pet! So spread the word far and wide and keep looking!