How to determine what a lost pet reward should be; how to handle reward-seekers; animal logo

Tips. This site is full of tested tips for bringing lost pets home.

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     Section IV-c   Section IV-d  You are here
   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-d

or click here to go back to page IV-c

If you can't do everything, that's ok ... most people can't. But do as much as you can, as many kinds of things as you can, since there's no telling which one item will be the successful one. With posters, bulletin boards, veterinarians, pet shops, groomers, pounds and shelters, police, and municipal facilities ... start close to where the pet was lost, and work out from there. If it gets overwhelming, at least you've covered the closer-in areas.

l. Pets often recognize the sound of a familiar vehicle. Park
 the familiar car where the pet was lost. Run the motor for a short time and honk the horn on occasion. Most lost pets feel hopelessly lost immediately away from their familiar neighborhood; however, since they recognize vehicle sounds, this could help them find home on their own. It is possible your lost pet is terrified and holed up on your block or on the next block, and it's important to do what you can to encourage him to get brave and get home.
     If driving to search, drive out away from the location where the pet was lost, then on the way back to that spot, honk the horn on occasion (don't honk when leaving the area, since that could draw the animal in the wrong direction). With window down, call your pet's name, but do that only on the way back to the spot.
     If the pet was lost away from home, when you have to leave the area see if you can leave food there, and maybe a trash can on its side with bedding in it. That can be tough under some circumstances what with vandals, stray animals, etc, but it can be a successful tactic. Some pets hide and come to the area of loss only after dark and/or when it's quiet, and will need food and shelter upon return. If there is a gas station, convenience store, or friendly neighbor immediately nearby, perhaps they would be helpful and let you work from and leave food and shelter on their property instead of at the exact spot from which the pet was lost.

m. B
e sure to do door-knocking in the neighborhood and put up posters; talk with LOTS of kids, as kids are likely to know more about a frightened pet which is hiding, running loose, or has been taken in by a neighbor than an adult might. Also, there are many people who don't watch the news, don't read the paper, don't pay attention to posters, so door-knocking and working with kids can be most-helpful in getting the word out.

n. Associations. If your pet is purebred or a popular mixed breed, attempt to locate an association in your area which is devoted to that type, such as a Siamese Cat Association or Chihuahua Association, and get posters to them. Such an organization may also be a great place to recruit individual helpers.

5. Research Details

a. Who can sell for research. Individuals, businesses, or government agencies selling for research must have a Federal license to do so. Individuals or small kennels may raise their own animals specifically for research, or they may acquire low-cost or free animals advertised locally (an important reason to never ever advertise a "free pet"). An individual or kennel may also contract with a municipality for animal control, and depending on the contract, may be required to surrender unclaimed pets for research.

b. Government animal control facilities are required by Federal law to surrender animals for research if requested by a research lab, when those animals are not claimed by their owners. Government animal control facilities may include animal pounds operated by large cities, counties, smaller municipalities; police departments, sheriff's departments, etc., and possibly contractors such as individuals, kennels, catteries, veterinarians, and others who may conduct animal control operations for a government entity.
     Some pounds work around the research issue and get by with not surrendering for research. Others prefer to get the extra funds from selling.

c. Private facilities such as humane shelters and no-kill shelters are not required to surrender for research unless they are contracted by a municipality to act as an impoundment agency.
When you call any of the above, ask outright if they sell for research and then compare their response to the Federal Register.

e.  Call the Federal offices and get a copy of the Federal Register for research labs. The Register lists research labs, kennels, catteries, veterinarians, animal pounds, and others in your area registered to sell for research. Review it carefully, since we may have missed listing a type of facility. Call each of them (labs and sellers); get a poster to them; keep in touch with them.


If you can afford to do so, offer a reward.
However, there are issues that should be considered:

1. If you offer a huge reward, this could encourage not-so-nice people to steal pets hoping to cash in;

2. if you offer no reward, that's ok, but then there's no incentive for people to go out of their way to help, especially if they're not particularly wild about pets;
3. if you offer a moderate reward
, that could encourage people to do more than just read about your loss. Use your own good judgment and simply do the best you can;

4. you may choose to offer a reward somewhat higher than the dollar value of your lost pet.
This could make your reward offer more interesting to someone than the money offered by a potential buyer. Keep in mind that if your pet is an un-neutered purebred (or popular mixed-breed) which could be used for breeding purposes, that ups the value of your animal to someone looking to breed and sell the puppies. In such a case, you may want to offer an even higher reward based partly on the number of puppies a pet of your type commonly has in a litter. Tip: Neuter or spay your pets.

5. We suggest you look with kindness at people wanting a reward.
If someone calls you demanding to know how much your reward is, how bad can that be? That caller is your ally, not your enemy. That person who needs the reward money may be an excellent set of eyes watching out for your pet. It is recommended that you treat reward-seekers with compassion and friendliness while yet watching out for your own safety.


Keep looking as long as humanly possible.
If you plan well and set up a good system, you can do much every month with fairly minimal effort after your initial push. If you can recruit others to help, an amazing amount of work can be accomplished. For example, if you can recruit only 5 caring pet lovers, friends, or family members, and each of those people does just five small things every day, 7 days a week, that comes out to 750 items accomplished every single month. Four short phone calls and a quick stop at a pound or shelter on the way home from work. Five emails. Three phone calls, a poster and a grocery store bulletin board card. These are absolutely doable for many people. Since lost pets sometimes take weeks or months or longer to surface, it's important to keep up the effort and to find good, strong, committed helpers.

Back to top - End of Section IV-d How to Search for a Lost Pet

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 impoundment facility county pound city pound
humane society humane shelter spca neighborhood search
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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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Government animal control facilities are required by Federal law to surrender animals for research if requested

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animal shelters and pounds can be located using these methods; lost dogs and lost cats and other lost pets too
Your efforts will pay off.
Keep your search going while studying this website's information.


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If you can afford to do so, offer a reward of at least the value of your pet.