Lost (and Found) Pets
Losing a pet is a heartbreaking experience. Are you aware of the steps you can take to help reunite a lost pet with their owner? Read on to learn how becoming an informed pet owner can help not just your pets from getting lost, but how you can also help reunite lost pets to their owners.
I lost my pet. What do I do?
Contact your local animal shelters or animal control agency.
If you can, you can visit shelters local to you daily to see if your pet has been rescued or turned in to a shelter. It’s also a good idea to contact your local shelters and rescues to see if they have any lost/found listings you can post images of your lost pet to. Valley Animal Center has a courtesy listing for lost/found animals HERE.
Post your lost pet images to social media or to local online groups dedicated to finding lost animals.
In the Fresno, CA area, there are a few social groups that are dedicated to reuniting lost animals to their owners. Some of them include Fresno Humane Lost/Found Pets, Tower Pets: Lost and Found, and others. Social media has increasingly become a way to advertise lost/found pets.
You can also go the traditional route and post physical flyers at your local pet stores or shelters, or pass them around your neighborhood. It’s good to include information about your pet and when they were last seen. Don’t forget to include how someone can contact you should they find your pet!
Search the neighborhood.
Your pet may not have strayed too far from home. Perhaps they got stuck somewhere, or there’s even the possibility a neighbor has rescued your lost pet. Walk around your neighborhood and call out your pet’s name. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your neighbors as well.
Don’t give up.
There have been pets who have been reunited after months of being lost. Although it can seem hopeless, stay persistent and consistent with your pet search. You never know when you’ll be contacted! It’s also important to know that strangers who may have found your pet may be working just as hard as you to reunite your lost pet. Don’t give up!
Be wary of pet-recovery scams!
If someone says they have your pet, you want to make sure it’s not a scam! Although it’s sad to think about, there are scammers who prey on pet owners who are emotionally distraught over their lost pet. Ask for pictures, and even videos of your pet and if someone is asking for a monetary reward, avoid sending money over until you are sure they truly do have your pet.
I found a lost pet. Now what?
Read the lost pet’s body language.
Are they relaxed, or are they growling at you? Are they signaling to you it’s safe to approach? Approach the lost animal slowly and with care. Continue to asses their response to you as you get closer to them. You can also use treats to coax the lost pet.
If you cannot approach the lost pet safely, stop! Lost pets may be scared and in a heightened state of awareness. Although you might want to help them, they may not understand your good intentions. Your safety is also important, so call your local animal control or rescue if you cannot safely approach the lost pet.
Take pictures of the lost pet.
Whether you bring the lost pet temporarily home with you, or you call local animal control, take photos of the lost pet! You can post about the lost pet to lost/found social media groups. Also keep an eye out to see if any owners come forward about their lost pets. It’s important that you are just as proactive in finding the lost pet’s owner!
Does the lost pet have a collar ID?
If you were able to safely approach the lost pet, check first to see if the lost pet has a collar with an ID tag. If the tag has a contact number on it, make sure to call the owners and let them know you have their pet in safe custody.
*Note: If you bring the lost pet home, it is a good idea to quarantine the pet or have it separated from any current pets you may already own. This is for the safety of your own pets in case the lost pet is not up to date on vaccines.
The lost pet doesn’t have a collar ID.
If the lost pet doesn’t have a collar ID with a contact number, you can take the lost pet to a vet clinic or an animal shelter and have the pet scanned for a microchip. The microchip, if updated, should have the owner’s contact information. If there is no microchip, or if the information is not up to date, you can find a local animal shelter that takes in lost/found pets, or you may continue to care for the lost pet as you look for the owners.