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Tip: Some stray pets get trapped in outbuildings. Find info here on how to conduct an intensive search.

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
              Section IV-b    You are here
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-c;

read to bottom and continue to page IV-d

or click here to go back one page


NOTE: Read all details; however, to simplify your search efforts, please refer to  Section V  for an example search schedule.

1. Call and visit all known pounds and shelters
in your area-wide circumstances. "Area-wide" could mean your several-county metro area, or your "greater-county" area if you live in a mostly-rural situation. Keep in mind that city and county borders do not count when it comes to where a pet could go. Either on their own or if transported by someone, your pet can cross city and county boundaries, he can cross rivers, run across bridges, race successfully through traffic into another community. Your review of municipalities should therefore include every municipality listed in your phone book(s) and map(s) for all area codes within the boundaries you have selected for your search.
2. Intake lists. Visit every pound and shelter that you can possibly visit. Ask to see their intake lists. No matter what kind of pet you have lost, it is important to search through all lists of animals brought in, if they have more than one list:
a. lists of live cats,
b. list of dead cats,
c. list of live dogs,
d. lists of dead dogs,
e. lists of other live animals,
f.  lists of other dead animals,
g. all list(s) of ill and injured,
h. all lists of dangerous animals.
     Watch for human error.  You may find a cat on the dog list and a dog on the cat list.
You may find animals listed with wrong color, wrong breed, wrong gender, wrong size, wrong location, wrong collar, wrong tags, etc. These records are kept by humans, and humans make mistakes. When you visit, ask where the injured and ill are kept and view these animals yourself. Ask where dangerous animals are kept and view them yourself in case your pet is determined to be hostile after the stresses of being lost. If an animal has been brought in and registered on the dead list, and if it could possibly be your pet, ask to see the body for positive ID. It is not uncommon for the dead to be kept in a freezer and picked up for disposal once a week or so. Find out what day(s) this pickup is done so you don't miss any viewings.
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. Sometimes this is 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 system, in which case they may not be in a position to allow you access. 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 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.
Continued below; please scroll down ....

     If a facility has no area for ill or injured, ask where they keep them. It's possible that ill and injured pets may be immediately transported to a contracted veterinary office or immediately euthanized by staff. When in the pound or shelter, ask a different employee the same question, in case the first employee is new or unaware.

3. Search for lesser-known shelters. To find the lesser-known shelters:

. Review Yellow Page listings. Some shelters are never listed in the phone book yellow pages because they do not have a physical facility. (Instead, if they are not licensed to operate a kennel, any animals they receive may be cared for in foster homes until adoption). Look under "animal pound", "dog pound", "animal shelter", "humane shelter", "animal rescue", "animal sanctuary", etc.
     Note: Although we do not refer to the last two listed above other than indirectly and as part of our information on "shelters" in general, it is important to know about them for your search purposes. Animal rescue groups are those "shelters" which often do not have their own facilities, which often concentrate on specific breeds or types, and which typically place animals in foster homes until adoption is accomplished. Animal sanctuaries normally take in animals which are not adoptable for one reason or another, such as feral cats. Unless your pet is lost for a very long time, the last one would likely not be helpful in your search. However, one never knows, so if time and energy allow, be sure to check with them, anyway.

. Watch your local papers. Look through the Pets for Sale area, since some smaller and no-kill shelter contact info may most-easily be found when they are advertising pets for adoption.

c. Surf the web. First look for all pounds and shelters in your state, scan through the list, and then narrow it down to those in your greater-metro or greater-county area. As you work, compare what you find on the web with both your impoundment agency list and your new lesser-known shelter list. This process can be important, since some agencies may be listed incorrectly here or there due to human error, even in your local phone book. You may also find some newer shelters on the web that are not in the phone book. Since there may be many lists on the web, it may be important to search until you've reviewed as many of them as possible. Also note that some may list certain kinds of shelters, and ignore others. Continued below; please scroll down ....

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4. Other Important Connections and Tactics
Keep in mind that lost pets have no conception of municipal or county borders and will cross these invisible dividers at will. Also, if kindly people pick up your pet and bring it to a pound or shelter, they will normally take it to the only one they know about, or the one that is closest to their home, or closest to where they work or otherwise venture. This could be far across one or more municipal or county borders, but still within your search area.

a. Call all police departments in that same area of municipalities. Likewise, call all sheriff's offices. These agencies may or may not pick up or impound stray animals, but they are often involved in the process. At the very least, when you get information from another source as to who picks up animals in the department's area, police and sheriff's offices can normally verify or disprove the information for you.

b. Call any and all local Highway Department
facilities since they are often responsible for picking up deceased animals on city streets, the sides of freeways and rural routes. In cities, the impoundment facility may also do this.
     Highway Departments typically do not keep records on dead animals picked up, so you must rely on any verbal information you can get from them. Ask them to please put up posters for you anywhere within their facilities that drivers might go ... perhaps coffee rooms, for example.

c. Call Sanitation Departments;
sometimes in addition to local pounds, they would be the next most likely to pick up deceased animals on urban and suburban streets.
     Sanitation departments typically do not keep records on dead animals picked up, so as with Highway Departments, you must rely on any verbal information you can get from them. Ask them to please put up posters for you anywhere within their facilities that drivers might go such as coffee rooms/break rooms.

d. Veterinarians.
Look in your local phone book for all veterinarians in that same area of municipalities. Call each veterinarian; get a Lost poster to each one. On occasion, veterinarians have reported people tossing pets in their door and running, leaving the bewildered animal behind. Or veterinary clients may have seen your pet. In addition, some veterinary clinics double as animal impoundment facilities, so be sure to ask if they do. We have also verified (at least in the past), that some veterinarians may also sell for research. You can determine if this is so in your area by checking the Federal Register of research facilities and suppliers which lists research facilities and suppliers by state. If a supplier is listed by individual's name only, find out with which facility that individual is affiliated. Continue reading for further information.

e. Pet Shops.
Call and/or visit all pet shops and get posters to them.

f. Groomers and trainers.
Call and/or visit all groomers and trainers and get posters to them.

g. Search Lost and found listings.
Search in all of your local papers (both large papers as well as small free local papers); ask your pounds and shelters if they keep lost and found lists and/or a lost and found bulletin board; visit local grocery stores and check their bulletin boards; recruit people to watch for posters for found pets.

h. Place Lost ads
in your local papers, on Craig's list, on grocery store bulletin boards; put up posters
as far out from the area of loss as possible -- all over your metro or multi-county area if possible. Recruit others to help in this effort. If you decide to set up a Lost Pet website, you could check out prices and other details here. (This is the web host we use, and you'll find their prices are very nice).

i. Try to get public service announcements or human interest news articles in local papers, on TV, and on radio stations. Get on chat sites online and ask people to spread the word.

j. At home (or where the pet was lost, or both), keep easy-access food and shelter available in case the pet gets home when you’re not there or sleeping. Miracles happen, and you need to be ready. If you have a fenced yard, leave the gate(s) open or partly open. Have a garage? Leave a door open a little, and leave a warm shelter inside with plenty of warm bedding, dry food, and water.  No fence, no garage? No dog house or igloo? Place a plastic trash can on its side in a sheltered area near your house or apartment building, with warm bedding -- including a piece of unwashed clothing which you have worn, with your odor on it -- and food inside, opening tipped slightly down to keep water out. As you search your neighborhood, call your pet's name; bring dry food in a dry food bag with you, and shake it to provide a familiar dinner sound (although this can be torture for other hungry strays who might hear you). Kids around? Ask them to please help keep an eye out to make sure the can is not disturbed, the bedding is dry and clean, and to let you know if there is trouble (such as vandalism or theft). Apartment manager object to the trash can? Ask for a suggestion as to where you could safely put the trash can or other protective "container" ... in back next to the building? Up against a tool shed? If you have no luck, and the manager's suggestions are no help, try a next-door neighbor who might be more than happy to oblige. Worst-case scenario, go over the manager's head and ask the building owner. Perhaps they'd allow you to place a "dog igloo" on the property for awhile, even if it's otherwise not allowed.
     Stay safe. Never give out personal information. Never allow anyone to come to your home to deliver "your" pet. Make alternate arrangements for safety.

Section IV continued ... see "Click to continue" link below

     CATS TIP: If you have lost a cat, many cats become terrified and go into hiding when out on their own. If you suspect your cat is holed up in a neighborhood garage or other outbuilding, work with the property owner and place a food-baited humane live trap at the site. Monitor it closely. Some cats are adept at these things and can scratch and claw their way out of some supposedly secure traps. In addition, these traps are normally metal wire -- if the cat is trapped in a live trap, there is nowhere to go for comfort, and sitting on metal wire in inclement weather can be damaging, and/or he could suffer terribly if not found shortly after being trapped.
     Once trapped, do not open the trap. Carry the trapped cat home, and release it indoors where it is safe.

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


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

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List of
Where to search:

Animal pounds
Animal shelters
  Humane Society Shelters/SPCA
  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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Remember that cats and dogs lose their sense of direction easily once lost from home.

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eep easy-access food and shelter available in case the pet gets home when you’re not there.