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Posted By : Clayton G.
How to Find a Lost Pet: A Step-by-Step Guide

Last Updated on July 31, 2023

How to Find Your Lost Pet: A Guide for Raising Local Awareness

Are you searching for your lost pet? You’ve come to the right place.

Raising local awareness is key to getting back your lost family member. This guide was designed to help you do that, quickly and efficiently.

Step 1: Don’t panic.

Losing a pet is a scary experience. But you won’t be able to help your fur baby unless you stay calm and keep a cool head! First, take a few deep breaths.

Ready to proceed? Okay, read on…

Step 2: Use online lost & found pet resources.

Time is your most valuable resource, so don’t waste it! Raising local awareness quickly is your best strategy for reuniting with your beloved pet, and the internet is the most efficient way to do this.

PawBoost makes it easy! Reporting a lost pet takes seconds. We’ll send an email alert to our local members, post to the PawBoost-powered Facebook page for your area, add your pet to our lost & found, and make a lost pet flyer – all for free. You can also boost your alert to get it in front of even more people.

Make sure to check the PawBoost lost & found frequently. 2,000 lost & found pets are added every single day, so you want to make sure you don’t miss something that could lead to a happy reunion!

Other sites that help you raise local awareness for your lost pet with minimal time and effort are Nextdoor.com – a PawBoost partner – and Craigslist. Both of these sites have very active lost & found sections mainly used for lost pets. We highly recommend you use these resources in addition to PawBoost!

Step 3: Visit your local animal control agencies and shelters in person.

If someone finds your pet, they may take him or her to your local shelter or animal control facility. It is important that you visit these places in person.

Many shelters are understaffed and underfunded. Do NOT expect them to contact you if your pet is taken in – even if he or she is chipped! The only way you can guarantee knowing if your pet is at a shelter is to visit that shelter in person.

 Do not assume you will be contacted if your pet is taken in to a shelter – even if your furbaby is chipped!

Do not assume you will be contacted if your pet is taken in to a shelter – even if your fur baby is chipped!

Don’t know all of your local shelter organizations? You can use Google to find them.

Try Googling the term “animal shelters near [insert city/town name here]” or “animal control near [insert city/town name here]” to see a list. Look for your local SPCA, animal control facility, pound, or Humane Society, as these are the more likely facilities your pet might end up at.

Step 4: Make sure your pet’s microchip is registered and up-to-date.

Even if your pet is chipped, it won’t help unless the microchip is registered and your contact information is up-to-date.

To make sure this is the case, first get the microchip number handy. If you don’t know the microchip number, call your vet and they should have the number in their records.

A pet microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and reveals an ID number when scanned. Photo Credit: BBC News

When you have the microchip number, you can simply plug it into the AAHA’s Microchip Lookup tool to determine the brand.

Once you know your pet’s microchip number and the company that made it, you can make sure it’s registered and the info is up-to-date by calling the company or using their website to register and/or update your contact information.

You can read more about how microchips work in this article.

Step 5: Put up lost pet flyers.

Old-fashioned missing pet flyers are still a great way to alert as many local people as possible.

Put up flyers in your neighborhood and in nearby highly trafficked locations such as grocery stores and popular businesses. Include a picture of your pet and your contact information. Make sure the text on the flyer is easily legible. If you have access to a color printer, use loud colors to make the flyer stand out.

 Note the loud colors, legible phone number, and large picture of Porter in this lost pet flyer.

Note the loud colors, legible phone number, and large picture of Porter in this lost pet flyer.

PawBoost creates a free, eye-catching printable flyer (8.5″ x 11″) for you when you report a lost pet. If you want an even higher impact sign, follow these tips to learn how to create an eye-catching missing poster that can be read from inside a speeding car.

Note: Please check your local laws and ordinances before posting flyers in public areas to make sure you are in compliance.

Step 6: Tell your neighbors your pet is lost.

Most lost pets don’t stray more than a few miles from where they went missing (although some do stray much further). Making your neighbors aware of your situation is a surefire way to increase your odds of a happy reunion.

Call your neighbors and let them know to keep an eye out for your pet. Knock on doors and hand out lost pet flyers. Walk or drive around your neighborhood regularly. Tell your postman to be on the lookout.

Another great way to get neighbors in on the search is to put a flyer in mailboxes within a two- to three-block radius. Even better, include a letter with the flyer introducing yourself and explaining your situation. People will want to help!

 Most lost pets don't stray too far from their homes, so pound that pavement!

Most lost pets don’t stray too far from their homes, so pound that pavement!

Make sure everyone you speak to has your contact information and knows what your pet looks like so they can get in touch if they find your missing pet. The more people that know, the better your chance of a happy reunion!

Step 7: Follow up on leads such as stray pet sightings or found collars/tags.

Was your pet sighted in the neighborhood 3 miles down the street? Drive there and put up missing pet flyers. Lost pets often return to the same areas. The people living there need to know who to contact the next time your pet is spotted.

 Sightings can help refine the search for your lost pet.

Sightings can help refine the search for your lost pet.

You should also periodically return in person to the locations where your pet was sighted. The high stress situation of being lost could cause your pet to act uncharacteristically skittish. He or she may be wary of strangers, but would come running for mom or dad!

Step 8: Practice due diligence.

There is a wonderful community of pet lovers out there that want to help you find your lost pet. 99% of the time, these are the people who will contact you with leads, advice, or ideally, because they’ve found your pet!

Unfortunately, there are also some unscrupulous people out there that could be looking to profit from your desperate situation. You should never send money to anyone you don’t know or haven’t met, even if they say they have your pet.

 Beware of vague, generic messages from people claiming to have found your pet. The above message came from a real scammer.

Beware of vague, generic messages from people claiming to have found your pet. The above message came from a real scammer.

If someone claims to have found your pet, don’t ask leading questions like ‘Does she have a white spot on the back of her leg?’ Instead, have the person provide the description. Ask them to describe something about your pet that wouldn’t be visible in pictures that may have been posted. If the person fails to come up with an identifying physical attribute, this is a warning sign that they might be lying to you.

If you are absolutely confident this person has your pet, arrange to make the exchange in person and in a public place. Better safe than sorry!

Step 9: Don’t give up!

Remember to never give up on searching for your lost pet, because your pet would never give up on you!

Pets are reunited with their families after missing for days, weeks, months or even years. Just read about Sebastian, who was reunited after 4 weeks missing; Marley, who was reunited after more than 6 weeks missing; or Sasha, who was reunited after 7 months!

 Your pet wants to be reunited just as much as you do!   Photo Credit: Dan Regan, Bristol Post

Your pet wants to be reunited just as much as you do!   Photo Credit: Dan Regan, Bristol Post

There’s a good chance your pet is being cared for by another family who couldn’t find you, the pet’s rightful owner. From what we’ve seen at PawBoost, this is among the most common scenarios.

Many people avoid taking a found pet to a shelter because they fear the pet will be euthanized, or they make incorrect assumptions about the pet’s previous owners (e.g. their pet got lost so they must not care about it).

Passively waiting for your pet to come home is NOT going to help you find these people! This means you can’t give up when it comes to raising local awareness.

Lost a Dog?

Be sure to also read our post on 8 Helpful Tips for Finding Your Lost Dog.

Lost a Cat?

Be sure to also read our post on 7 Effective Search Tips for Finding Your Lost Cat.

Looking For More Lost & Found Pet Tips?

Read our posts on Recognizing and Avoiding the Lost Pet Scam and on Creating an Eye-Catching Missing Poster.

Did you find this guide helpful? Please share it with more people by adding this link to your website!



  • Thank you to everyone trying to help us find sassy.

  • Thanx to everyone for your advice and help I’m doing exactly that and I really appreciate it. Always gotta have hope

    • Thankk you iam trying everything. That i can. Iam lost with out her its getting harder as the days get longer. I keep praying

      • Don’t give up, Dawn.

      • I understand how you feel .I am so worried abot Lucky Bear and I wake thinking about him and go to sleep thinking did i do enough today to find him.? I have read how to search from pawboost and i am going take all there advice and go to the SPCA and everything that has to do with animals in my area

  • Thank you to everyone who helped me retrieve Stella. I posted her as missing last Thursday or Friday, but did not have a photo. Several very fine people responded anyway, for which I am very grateful. She is safe and sound at home now. I was so relieved that I forgot to post her return immediately. Such good neighbors.

  • Thank you. Renata has been found. She’s home safe.

  • No my bunnies ‘ name is Billie he has been lost in Glenwood for the past two- three weeks. Billie is not a feline though, he is an Angora-English bunny and very smart. Billie would bolt if he was apprehended. He is in need of his medication now. I pray everynight of his return. Thank you Barbara Miller

  • Kathleen Tortu-Bowles

    August 28, 2020 at 11:35 PM

    Praying that Max will be seen and possibly come to someone who is nice.

  • My cat bibs still missing he’s been missing since july72020please help me find him I we are devastedt and want him back if someone took him or hurt him that’s a fine and jail time please help me find him and bring him home safe we love him

  • Doucie was picked up by an unknown male in the late afternoon of October 13, 2017 after she had escaped from a nearby pet hospital. Of the hundreds of calls only one was not followed up on because the called had a blocked, unknown number. We are still looking for her. And she was not lost from home, she was in an unfamiliar area. There have been no alerts on her chip either. Please keep looking for her. My mom needs her companion beside her. We miss you Doucie

  • This information is very helpful thank you for sharing and my dog Chloe is missing she has been missing since 9-23-20 she stays with my parents dogs are not allowed where i live. The day she went missing she was outside for a while just a few homes down , Chloe is a small brown/white , female, Chihuahua dog weighs an estimated 10 to 15 pounds , was not wearing a collar , is not chipped. I did not get a chance to cut Chloe’s nails last time i was her /last seen she had long nails. Chloe had gone missing while she was outside a few homes down she liked playing with Ladybug the neighbors dog. She went missing from the Senior Mobile Home Park in Exeter , CA. 93221. Please if you have seen her , know where she might be at , etc. please let me know. Thank you so much Sincerely, Christina L.

  • If you find my friends dog don’t please be nice to hes. As sweet as it gets .

  • Thank You very much for helping find my cat. Hope somebody finds him Loving cat Love him very much/

  • Our Henry just showed up at our front door. Don’t know where he was since yesterday but he is home. Thank you to all.

  • Thank for the information provided, I have been so upset because my Twinkle is such a timid person.
    She is our baby and our home is just not the same without here. I pray that she is safe where ever she might be.
    Thanks for your support.

  • Pet Found Safe Returned
    Thank You..,,,,,,.

    • Mister has been found & back home! Thank u to the wonderful woman who took him in till we could get him home & the community of Lakewood for all ur help & concern! Love Lakewood! (Thanks also to Jessie)!

  • I’m afraid that no one will report my cat missing because she is black and it may look like she’s a stray cat but shes not. Her babies and I miss her dearly. It has been the two darkest days of my life. Nothing brings me joy.

  • Lost cat info was posted but I did not have a photo to include in the description. Will my info be posted?

  • November 28th 2020 my dog was picked up from Seville at Wilson and Denton road by two people did not turn him into the shelters or leave him in the neighborhood he’s name is Scooby I just want to know that dog is all right hopefully

  • Toby is my moms dog who she loves so much. He’s afraid of fireworks And one of my kids let him out. The neighbors keep shooting the fireworks so we believe he’s afraid to come home. Please keep looking. Thank you

  • How do you post that a pet has been reunited?

  • Please help me find my cat mango this is not like him to be gone so long IF YOU HAVE HIM PLEASE LET ME KNOW😿

  • Tigress cat was found and is home.
    Thank You!

  • Angela Kim Privette

    October 20, 2021 at 5:40 PM

    Bunny has been found and is home safe. Thanks Everyone.

  • The Lost Husky Black And White Was Found And Is Being Returned To It’s Oner Thank Use All For Finding My Puppy

  • Thanks to a neighbor/friend telling me about pawboost I have my girl back.
    Thank you so much for this program.

  • Marcia Bollinger

    June 6, 2022 at 2:01 PM

    Our baby Opie is lost I’m sure scared, he is loved and spoiled. Opie gets cold easy so if someone took him he likes blankets. We hope our Opie is found we can’t move on without hurtful hearts breaking.

  • This is the third day we are missing Luna ( from June 7th at 4:30 p.m.), a dilute Calico and she will be 2 years old next month. I am so grateful to PAWBOOST ALERT for their quick response. We are putting up posters in the neighborhood and hopefully, Luna can be found.

  • Vinnie’ a been found!

  • Thanks to all helping re: Diego. I’m not on Facebook, so can’t thank you for your comments there but hope you see this note!

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