How to find lost pets in your community can be difficult in many circumstances, but there is a lot of unique help there, if you know where to look. You can help to prevent your pet from going missing or getting stolen by ensuring the pet is legally registered in your name, ensuring it has a safe non-hanging tag and is registered.
Read this book to keep your dog safe, which can help in many circumstances to avoid certain accidents or injuries. A big reason for some dogs going missing is that they are on heat, which is why neutered dogs are far less likely to run off. Train your dog with kindness to help teach dogs not to run off or come back.
Cats should also wear a safe breakaway collar to keep safe (this breaks away if a cat get snagged, it’s used for cats over 6 months, and you can sew any contact information into the collar, again to avoid hanging tags).
The world’s expert in finding lost pets is American Kat Albrecht. A former CSI detective, she switched hats to find lost pets and uses her knowledge to train an army of pet detectives worldwide (she runs a course for people wishing to volunteer or work as pet detectives). Her advice differs. Lost Pet Research & Recover & Lost Pet Help both have tips.
- In Ireland, there’s a lost and found website set up by a web designer. It has a good success rate, as it’s the go-to site for anyone who loses or finds a pet. Because it’s well-designed and kept updated, people tend to all visit the same site, rather than go to different places. Which leads to happier reunions.
- In North America, Pet FBI has a useful site. And pet detective Sherlock Bones has an e-book based on his years of experience.
- Fido Finder and Tabby Tracker are lost/found databases for US/Canada (you can register beforehand, for best chance of reuniting).
- In Australia, try Lost Pet Finders (AU) and Lost Pet Finders (NZ). Register your pet in NZ for free.
An Effective Missing Pet Poster
For example, her tips to make a missing pet poster (which often finds pets weeks after they go missing) say that most missing pet posters are created wrong, including (with good heart) by animal charities that offer them for free. Kat suggests using her advice for a bright neon 5, 5 + 55 poster (you only have 5 words in 5 seconds to get attention):
- Make a giant waterproof poster on florescent paper, place at major intersections (up to 10 miles).
- Don’t write LOST DOG or LOST CAT. instead, write ‘FIND YELLOW LAB or FIND SIAMESE CAT‘. Kat is not a great fan of rewards. It can attract scams, and also some people hoping for a reward have chased dogs into traffic or set up a trap that went wrong, in the hope of getting a reward. In her words, it can lead to ‘chasing leads from money-hungry people’. If someone finds a lost pet, most people will try to find the guardian of well-cared for animals.
- You should include a good quality photo of your pet (so ensure you take some) and 5 words to describe your furry friend, along with a phone number (use a mobile so you can always be got hold of). Write with permanent (not water-soluble markers) and post on giant boards on at least 10 major areas. Then create up to 100 flyers, and hand them to local community boards, vets, shops, shelters etc. Add any important info (like if your pet is shy) and also inform your local community website and the local newspaper. Kat suggests not including your pet’s name or address, and withholding one identifying mark. Post these at a radius of up to 5 miles.
- Kate says that if your cat is trapped in a shed, posters won’t help. Call animal shelters and ask neighbours to check outhouses.
More Help To Find Lost Pets
- Animal Search UK was set up by an ex-policeman, it has an army of pet patrollers in your area and can offer free posters and other materials. It also has a paid service (often paid for on your pet insurance) that can send out a missing pet search team who is insured to go up ladders and into people’s sheds. They can also take photos of found pets and send them to you.
- Write to your MP to support updating microchipping law. Presently, stray pets that visit vets don’t have to be scanned, which would reunite many pets. Vets Get Scanning was set up by Bruce Forsyth after his daughter’s pets (now found) went missing.
- Sites like Dog Lost, Pets Located and Pets Reunited are all good. But more than one major site can dilute things (people list on different sites). And a local community poster often has good effect. Next Door is free (to set up a ‘local Facebook’ website).
- Many local schemes exist, like Battersea Losts Dogs and Cats Line (London) or Lost Cats Brighton.
- PawBoost is an American idea. An app that can be used worldwide, it uses the power of Facebook to find your pet. Considering the world and his wife use it, it seems like a good idea. Just alert members of the local Rescue Squad by email and they go into action.
- Pet recognition apps were developed a few years ago. If you lose a pet (or find one), you take a photo and upload it to the app, and the software uses technology to ‘recognise’ the pet. Sounds great but one site is no longer live, and such a great idea has not yet taken off.
- Happy Tails is one of the first companies to be trained in pet detection by Kat Albrecht (above). Working internationally and with over 12 years experience, they offer profiling, satellite area surveys, night vision, human trapping, poster distribution and witness assessment.
- Healthy Paws Pet Insurance has good tips (with an example of the ‘perfect lost pet poster’). Help Find Lost Pets (free e-book by a Missing Animal Response Technician), says to include info that you have a shy pet who may run if someone calls out). Ideas include wildlife cameras with feeding stations with time stamps (food scents carry up to 250 feet, depending on wind) and good use quality beamed spotlights to reflect eyes back of animals seen. Many shelter workers are exhausted, so don’t just say ‘male or female dog’. They may make a mistake, and call out the wrong sex.
- PetsReunited is a national website where you can search the database of lost and found pets by species, location, colour and time. Report pets that are lost or stolen or found, and get missing pet reports for vets, rescue centres, animal charities and local authorities that are signed up their PetWatch™ Alerts in your area (they also have thousands of volunteers to help with search who can also display free printable posters and flyers created by them).The SEO-friendly pages create disposable phone numbers that link to you, but keep privacy.
Be careful with those GPS tags. Some could get caught on collars. If you use them, ask your vet for the safest versions, with tips on how to use them.