1. Getting the word out early
Getting the word out early is the key to getting your dog or cat back safely and soundly. Don’t assume your pet will return on his own in a few hours. Don’t wait around to see if he’ll find his way home. As soon as you are aware that your pet is missing, GET THE WORD OUT.
It’s vitally important that the number you’re about to post everywhere be answered. As a precautionary measure, change your outgoing voice-mail message to something like this:
“If you have information about my missing [cat], I need to speak with you. Please leave your name and number and repeat them. If you don’t have a callback number, this phone should be answered by a live person between [x] and [y] today. You can also reach [someone you absolutely trust] at [another number you are absolutely sure of]. If I don’t call you back, it means that I couldn’t hear your number clearly, so please try me again. Thank you!”
Make dozens of index cards with the same information as above, and go to every home, in every direction from the site of where your pet disappeared, and give a card, or stick a card under doors or on windshields. Stop and speak with every person you encounter –the more people know about your lost pet, the more likely the one person who spots him will call you. Your pet may be frightened, ask people to please check their barns and sheds, especially at night.
Place a “Lost” ad in your local newspaper the very first morning your pet is gone. These ads are usually free.
2. Sign up with an automated service
FindToto or Lost My Doggie will immediately call or e-mail thousands of your nearby neighbors to notify them that your animal companion is missing.
3. Call all your neighbors personally
Call all veterinary clinics, including emergency veterinary hospitals outside your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Call all animal shelters and animal control and dog control officers, all local police and state troopers, all local kennels, the highway department, dog training clubs, grooming shops get the word out.
Visit all local dog pounds and animal shelters, don’t rely on their information, go through and look at all dogs and cats, DAILY.
4. Make copies of the clearest photo you can find of your animal
Head to a store where you can print photos from your phone, print a photo off your computer, or use a copy machine if you have to. Make sure the picture is in color, accurate, and clear. Ask shelters to save the photo wherever they keep pictures of lost animals, and post it on their bulletin board.
5. Don’t skimp on the reward
How much could you scrounge up for an emergency surgery or a necessary car repair? You’ll have to cough it up if you want to hear from people. We’re talking about your little angel, here—this is not a time for economizing.
6. Visit each animal shelter every day
Shelters may assure you that they will notify you if your animal shows up, but don’t count on it. Shelters are very busy, and workers may not make the connection between found animals who are called in or turned in and your lost animal. Ask to see shelters’ lost and found records. Be persistent but polite, and don’t give up. Your animal companion is counting on you to step up when it truly matters.
7. Humane Live trap
You may need to rent or purchase a Humane Live trap, and set it to capture a terrified lost pet. Local animal shelters often rent or loan these, and will have an appropriate size for a dog or a cat.
DON’T GIVE UP! Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away – don’t wait a few hours “to see if he’ll come home on his own “– you need those early hours to put up posters and give out cards.