How to find lost pets; where are animal pounds and animal shelters; logo image

In-depth help finding your lost pet is here; just take an evening studying this site to find a wealth of details your pet needs you to know.

Applicable to any U.S. area -- Applicable to some International areas
Who -- What -- Where -- Why -- How

Applicable to any U.S. area --  Applicable to some International areas

    I.  Lost Pets - attitudes, issues, beliefs
   II.  Where lost pets go; animal behaviors; statistics; problems
  III.  Which facility may eventually get your pet and why
  IV.  How to search for a lost pet - Section IV-a
            You are here  Section IV-b   Section IV-c    Section IV-d
   V.  Example Search Schedule, Simplified
  VI.  How to change the lost and surrendered pet system

Our information has been carefully checked many times, from many angles; however, laws change, facilities change, numbers change, situations change.
Everything you read here about the lost pet impoundment system can be verified or proven erroneous as you work to find your pet; you will find tips here on how to verify information as you learn how to accomplish a serious search.
We encourage you to verify verify verify.

In this 4-page section, continued:
A multitude of hidden tips. Your pet needs one. But which one?

Some information in this report is difficult to cope with and not for the faint of heart; plan for an efficient search; it can take weeks or months to find the lost.

This is page  IV-b;

read to bottom and continue to page IV-c

or click here to go back one page



1. When you visit a pound or shelter,
make notes about the facility -- how large it is, whether there is a bulletin board, how many and what kinds of intake lists they have, whether they allow access to all areas and what those areas are, and whether there is a particular person there whom you feel you can trust to keep an eye out for your lost pet. If you do not feel you can trust, then flag that facility as one you must visit personally.

NOTE: (this paragraph is repeated in E-2 Intake Lists)
A possible blockade to your search is that you may find that a local agency will not allow you to read through their listings of dogs and cats brought in to the facility. This can be pretty important, since looking through their lists yourself can help you spot errors, note an animal that has already been through the facility that may be yours, locate an animal on the wrong list, etc. Sometimes you will not be allowed to view such lists because an agency (which is not a city pound) may consider the list their private property, not open to the public. But this can also happen because many times such lists exist only on their computer systems. In such a case, you are at the mercy of the agency employee or volunteer to search the list properly, carefully, and adequately. Worse, many facilities keep lists available for only 30 days. If you have lost your pet some time ago and you want to review back listings, and if your pet has already entered and left a facility more than 30 days ago, there will be no way for you to know and no way for you to find out. In such a case, we strongly recommend continuing your search, setting yourself a schedule, a determination of those things you will and will not do, and giving yourself a deadline as to when you will stop searching. Then do the best you can, and if you do not find your pet within that time period, simply accept it. Since many pets are out wandering on their own, or taken in to a temporary home, for some months or even a year or so, please do not give up too soon. There is, in fact, an excellent chance your pet is out there and needs you.

    Some facilities will not allow you to view certain animals. For example, if you are helping a friend by searching for their pet alone, you yourself may not be allowed to see new animals brought in, ill or injured animals, or dangerous animals, whereas the person who lost the pet may be allowed to view them. Private facilities do set some of their own rules, and you and I are obliged to follow them.

2. Recruit helpers whenever you can.
Don't be shy about asking for help. If someone says "no", or doesn't bother doing anything after saying "yes", well, how bad can that be? While you may get plenty of no's, you are bound to get enough yes's, too. Hand out batches of posters or bulletin board cards and ask people to help you keep them posted in grocery stores, etc. Ask the same of people in the area in which your pet was lost.
     Every poster someone else is willing to put up is one more you don't have to worry about. When you go to pounds and shelters ask other visitors whether they come in often, and if they do, give them some posters and ask if they will keep looking at that facility for you and if they'll put some posters up elsewhere, too. Make a note of this on your records ... and if possible, get info so you can keep in touch with them. Ask them to post in their own neighborhood, at work, at the grocery store, etc. Do not rely on any one person though ... ask everyone, in hopes that you will end up with at least one helpful person for each facility.

3. Postings and other help. Ask people wherever you call, wherever you go, if they would put up even a single poster for you in their own neighborhood, office, grocery store, laundry, apartment building. If they'll do more, all the better. Will some of them make phone calls? Search out good email addresses for agencies? List on Craig's List and then keep on top of that ad for you? Often, you will find other pet lovers who will help long-term. Ask children in the area of loss to keep an eye out for your pet; leave a poster with them. Door-knock if possible, and ask neighbors, parents of the kids, apartment managers, store workers, etc. to help, and to put up posters.

     Ask all of these people to ask friends, neighbors, co-workers if they will put up a poster or two wherever they happen to work or live. Be sure to convince them how important distance can be, since most people do not understand how far little pets can get even on their own. Continued below; please scroll down ....

Ask others to link to this website lost pet info;

ask them to visit;

ask them to let friends, family, neighbors know about these documents.

Spreading the word about how extremely difficult it can be to find a lost pet may help pet owners keep tighter control of the animals they love.

This, in turn, can help cut down on the numbers
of pets killed each year.

4. Success in Numbers. There is success in numbers. If you can find, say 5 people to help you, and each of those five people can do 5 little things a day every day ... that's not so bad. And with 30 days in a month, we're talking 750 items done every month~! If you can make it even easier by using ongoing email lists in a bulk mail program, then 100 emails a month can be done at the click of your mouse and cut down on the labor significantly. With vets, pet shops, humane shelters, city pounds, etc., you may end up with several hundred on your email list that you should send an email to every other week, or every month or so. Also see Section V for search simplification.

5. Get printing help. Printing posters and bulletin board cards can be time-consuming and expensive. Some people may not mind making a copy or two for you ... so when you speak with people, hand them a poster and outright ask if they can make more copies to post? Again, the worst they could say is "No". If they say no, ask if they'd take a few more posters from you to post. With anyone who seems willing to do "a lot", keep excellent records so you can keep in touch, keeping a handle on what others might be doing for you. Try to eliminate overlap with their efforts, to cut down on labor.

As mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of animal control, with some municipalities having no regulations regarding stray animals, and therefore, no animal control. Most do control the stray animal population. When a municipality does provide some sort of animal control, the type depends on what the larger city, county, or smaller municipality has decided on. (see Section III, item F for comparison details). The choices may include:

1.  Having their own impoundment facility (animal pound) and hiring their own employee animal wardens;

2.  having their own facility, but contracting out to animal control wardens who are not employees;

3. contracting with another facility such as a veterinary office, private kennel, individual animal warden, another city’s pound, or a humane shelter.

4.  When a private animal control warden is contracted with to pick up strays, sometimes that warden decides where to bring the animals; sometimes that may be controlled by the contract; sometimes that private animal warden may contract with several municipalities and may or may not house the animals in the warden's own kennel.

5. Sometimes animal pickup is left to the city police or sheriff’s office; sometimes police or sheriff's office will deliver directly to a facility, sometimes they will call a contracted warden. If state patrol does any animal pickup, then if an animal ends up running on a Federal freeway and needs to be picked up, that would be up to the state patrol or possibly the county. Where the state patrol brings the animal, would depend on what the state has arranged, such as using a county or city impoundment facility or one of the others listed in this section. In rural areas, sheriff’s offices would usually be in charge and responsible in their county, if in fact they pick up strays at all.


Some pounds or shelters work together in some way to aid strays and unwanted pets, some do not. You must find out who does what.

1. Get city, municipal, and county information from your local phone book (blue pages), and record the phone number and address of each municipality or county in your search list. In some cases, you may find animal pound information within a city or county listing, in other cases, you will have to make a phone call and ask about animal impoundment.

2. Get a good local map which lists all municipalities in your area. Compare this list with your phone book list. The phone book, of course, will list phone numbers; however, you may find that some minor municipalities are missing in the phonebook blue pages listing. Use the local map listing to catch those missing municipalities and then dig around to find their phone numbers.

3. Call every single municipality and county and ask who handles animal control for them and ask for the phone number. Call that phone number to be sure both the number and the information are accurate. For what information to ask for, continue reading all pages of this document.

4. To find Humane Societies, look through all local phone book yellow pages under "Animal Aid and Welfare", "Animal Pounds", "Animal Shelters", "Dog Pounds",  "Humane Shelters", "Humane Societies", "Shelters". There may be other areas to search in your yellow pages, depending on how your wide-area phone companies choose to index.

5. To find no-kill Shelters, look through all local phone book yellow pages as above. However, many shelters do not list in phone books. Watch for bulletin board ads, look through your newspaper listings especially in the Pets For Sale section, where shelters will frequently list animals for adoption; check online newspaper listings, again especially noting the Pets for Sale section.
Section IV continued ... see "Click to continue" link below

Click to continue How to Search - Section IV-c ....


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Additional keywords: animal pound animal shelter dog pound
 impoundment facility county pound city pound
spca humane society humane shelter neighborhood search
police pound sheriff department spca animal control humane society
lost pet blog lost pets blog

Study this site carefully;
one little detail may be the one that brings your lost pet home.
Most-comprehensive in scope, has the info you need.

This website lost pets info is now available in book form:

Book pricing here

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List of
Where to search:

Animal pounds
Animal shelters
  Humane Society Shelters
  No-Kill Shelters
City Offices
Police facilities
Police Departments
Sheriff facilities
Sheriff Offices
Veterinary facilities
   Highway Departments
   Sanitation Departments
   Breed Assoc.
   Pet Shops
   Research labs
Leave posters with all

Other areas to check:
Lost and Found listings
Pets For Sale Listings
Bulletin boards
Craig's List online
Found posters
Breeder wanted ads

Other things to do:
Start an email campaign
Offer a reward
Put up posters
Place Lost ads
List on Bulletin Boards
Post on Craig's List
Human interest articles
Contact TV news
Contact Radio News
Get on chat sites online
Recruit wide-area helpers

At home/neighborhood:
Keep shelter available
Keep food/water out
Keep on visiting area
Search area regularly
Call pet's name often
If cat located, live trap
Doorknock & leave info
Recruit neighbor help
Recruit kids

Keep on looking, for
   days, weeks, months

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Call every single municipality and county and ask who handles animal control