Help! How do I find my lost pet?

Lost pet - Kip

Panic—fear—worry. If you’ve ever had a pet go missing, you’ve likely experienced these emotions within seconds of learning your pet is lost.

Last year, the Dumb Friends League reunited more than 1,600 lost pets with their owners. Kip was one of those lucky pets. He had already been missing for three months when he arrived at the Dumb Friends League. Fortunately, Kip had been implanted with a microchip, which had his owner’s up-to-date contact information, so he was reunited with his owner Thomas.

Thankfully, Kip and Thomas’ story has a happy ending. Steps that were taken before Kip ever went missing were crucial in returning him to his family.

So what can you do if your pet is lost? Below are some steps you should take immediately upon learning your pet is missing, as well as things you can do now to give him or her the best chance of returning home.

My pet is missing! What should I do?

The first thing you should do is search the area closest to where your pet went missing. Walk or drive your neighborhood and tell everyone you meet that you are looking for your lost pet and provide them with your contact information. Hang posters within a three-mile radius that include your pet’s information and a photo. It’s also helpful to post about your missing pet on social networking sites like Nextdoor.com, Craigslist, Twitter and Facebook.

If your pet has a microchip ID, contact the registry to verify that your address and phone number are up-to-date in their records. You should also contact the organization or county where you licensed your pet to make sure they have your updated contact information.

Next, check the shelters closest to where your pet was lost. Visit in person to file a report, and take along a photo. Check outlying shelters, too. You can find locations on the Metro Denver Animal Welfare Alliance website. You have a better chance of finding your pet by visiting the shelters in person. There’s a good chance the description you give over the phone may not match someone else’s description of your pet. You can also file a lost or found report using PetHarbor.com. By using Pet Harbor to report a lost or found pet, you will be able to notify multiple area shelters by completing just one form.

Here are more things you can do to find your lost pet:

  • Check other websites such as FidoFinder.com, PetHarbor.com, 911ParrotAlert.com, PawBoost.com and the Colorado Pets Lost and Found Facebook page.
  • Notify friends and neighbors that your pet is lost.
  • Contact veterinary practices in your area.
  • Check “found” ads and take out a “lost” ad in newspapers.
  • If your pet has been missing for more than 5 days, check pets available for adoption at local shelters.
  • Leave an item of your clothing, your pet’s bedding or toys, or cat’s litter box outside to help guide your pet back home.

How can I give my pet the best chance of returning home if he or she ever goes missing?

Make sure your pet wears an ID tag, license tag and rabies tag at all times. Ensure that information, like your address and phone number, is up-to-date. It’s also important to provide an updated address and phone number to the veterinarian who provided your pet’s most recent vaccinations.

Microchipping pets is another great way to give your lost pet a better chance of returning home should they ever go missing. A microchip implant is a tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, which is inserted under the animal’s skin. It can be scanned by any animal shelter or veterinary office to provide contact information for the animal’s owner. It’s important to ensure the contact information you provide to the chip registry is current at all times.

Spaying or neutering your pet is another great way to protect your pet. Aside from controlling pet overpopulation and providing health benefits, spaying or neutering can actually decrease your pet’s chance of straying away from home in the first place.

What should I do if I find a lost pet?

If you see a stray pet, first check to see if it is wearing ID tags. If there are no tags, or the phone number on the tag is not correct, take the animal to the nearest shelter right away. The animal will be scanned for a microchip and cared for while the shelter staff works to locate the pet’s owner.

You may also take the pet to a veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a microchip ID. If you decide to temporarily house the pet in your home, you should file a “found” report with local shelters.

Distributing “found pet” flyers near the area the pet was found and posting notices on social media and other websites is another way to reunite pets with their owners. Be cautious with the kind of information you include when posting online. You may want to withhold some key information, including the pet’s picture, so you can be certain anyone who contacts you is the actual owner.

All of this information—including links to our forms and lost and found—can be found on the Lost and Found section of our website.