top of page
  • petcommunitycenter

My Pet is Lost. What Do I Do?

It is a good idea to know what to do in case your worst fear is realized and you find your pet is lost. It is frightening, but no matter how conscientious a pet parent you are, the unthinkable can happen. Many of us, especially we who have indoor-only pets are positive “that could never happen to me.” To put it bluntly, you are wrong. 

To start with, there are some realities you need to understand. For one, fences, regular or invisible, are not infallible. Some dogs, and breeds, are diggers by nature, and others can clear some pretty high fences. Some will run through an invisible fence if the lure is strong enough and not want to get a jolt on the way back.  

Or, a door might not quite latch and something irresistible, such as prey (squirrel!) or another dog or cat who needs to be played with or protected against might be in sight. Backyard parties with many people going in and out are a perfect opportunity for an interested animal to break out of a pet gate and go exploring.

Fireworks are a pet parent’s worst enemy; July Fourth sees more lost pets than any other day of the year because loud noises are terrifying to many dogs and cats. You should be vigilant that day to protect them - secure them in a quiet room, and if possible check on them every now and then to calm them. It should be noted that many people shoot fireworks on the days before and after the Fourth, so you might want to keep them in the house then as well.

The good news is, there are several steps you can take to make it easier for your pet to be found and returned. The key word is identification

Have your pet wear a collar with their name and your current phone number and address on it.

So many pets have either collars with no tags, rabies tags only, or tags with just the pet’s name and no (or no current) owner information. It is so much easier for someone who finds your pet to return them when they know where they belong.

Microchip your pet and keep the information current.

A microchip is a small electronic device that is embedded under your pet’s skin that has your contact information on it. It can be implanted during a regular vet visit, and is no more painful than a vaccine injection. When collars break or slip off, or tags aren’t replaced, an up-to-date microchip is an invaluable tool that helps your pet get home safely. All a good Samaritan has to do is take your dog or cat to the vet who will scan the microchip. If your information is current, your pet is just a phone call away. Any vet or clinic will microchip your pet. Pet Community Center provides $15 microchip services for dogs and cats.

For extra protection, use a tracking device.

If you already use Apple Air Tags all you have to do is buy an extra tag and holder for your pet. Theoretically, they can work like a microchip; if the lost or separation modes are activated, the tag will display your contact information and instructions to anyone who taps their smartphone against the device. Samsung Galaxy SmartTag2 works in a similar way for Android devices. These trackers can be a great tool in getting your pet home especially if they are close by, hiding, or are shy and won’t let strangers get close.

If you live in a remote area; your dog is a dedicated digger (like huskies, border collies, Australian shepherds, schnauzers, beagles, and some terriers are); or if your cat is an escape artist, a dedicated pet tracking device might be your best friend. The Whistle and Tractive, products, amongst others, fit on a collar and use GPS connected to a nationwide LTE network for instant live tracking, and can be worn by pets 8 pounds and up. They have different levels of devices that range from about $80 to $100 a year, with subscription plans from $40 to $100 per year. Monthly costs and plans are also available.

If your pet is lost.

Don’t panic. Check at your local animal shelter first. Many people who find pets take them there, hopefully after checking for a microchip, so there is a good chance if found, your pet will be there.

Provide the most accurate, up-to-date information as possible.

This is where social media shines. There are many Facebook groups specifically for lost and found pets. If you're in the Nashville area, Skippy Lou’s Lost & Found Pets - Nashville TN has a very large and active membership. There are other neighborhood-specific groups in Nashville: Lost Pets - Brentwood TN; Hip Donelson Lost and Found Pets; East Nashville & Inglewood Lost and Found Pets; Antioch, Tennessee Lost & Found Pets, etc. Posting neighborhood and city-wide will give the best coverage. Needless to say, not only should you post in the groups, you should check them frequently for new information.

What information should I post on the social lost and found groups?

The most recent photos you have, close ups of both head and full body; your contact information; the time and place your baby was last seen; any distinguishing characteristics; whether they are chipped or tagged; and any helpful behavioral information. If your pet shies or runs away from approaching strangers, people need to know to be careful about getting too close.

Things to do at home.

Thoroughly search your home and outside area. Then do it again. Check places you would never dream your pet could be (this especially applies to cats who will go in some pretty out-of-the-way places when scared or bored, such as duct work. If they can’t be found, reinforce the pet’s scent around your yard, house, or any outdoor space they frequent. You can do this (if appropriate to your situation) by placing well-loved toys, blankets, or even litter from your cat’s box in your immediate area.   

Things to do in the neighborhood.

Go door-to-door looking in places a scared pet might hide - open garages, areas under decks, landscaping, etc. Cats who have gotten out and regret it tend to hide close to home rather than roaming and can find some creative places. Sometimes pets wander into open areas like garages or sheds and get locked in. Alert neighbors to be on the lookout and ask if you can search their property with them. 

Always post signs.

Tips for the most effective signs: they should be at least 8.5 x 11 inches in size; the center should be a current, color photo. Less is more - have LOST above the photo and your pet’s name and your phone number below that. Words should be big, bold, and dark on white paper, and to make it last in case of bad weather, put it in a sleeve protector. To make it hard to miss, you can staple it to a “frame” of brightly-colored poster board. Finally, placement is also extremely important -  it doesn’t do much good to have them on poles along busy streets, unless they are at a stop sign, traffic light, or some other area where the traffic is slow enough for people to get a good look at the photo and phone number, and perhaps even photograph the sign.    

Keep looking.

Don’t give up if your pet isn’t found immediately, especially if your pup or kitty is shy, or has no contact information on them. Continue to monitor all the lost and found groups that could apply, and post updates, even if they are just reminders. Continue to talk to your neighbors, and as many as possible. You never know where your pet might be or how they will be found.


201 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page