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V. Example Lost Pet Search Schedule, Simplified

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

It is possible to conduct an intensive search in two or more hours per day. Below is a 5-day example of how to do so. Searching 7 days a week, every 5 days start all over again with Day One, expanding your search area. Assume 5 types of projects every day.

However, if you can only commit to 5 items per day (such as 5 phone calls),  pick and choose which items to do, and simply do the best you can.

Five items per day = 150 items per month!
That amount of effort can go a long way towards finding your beloved pet. Hopefully, though, you will promise your pet that you will do more.

Use the Where to Search list to guide you in your efforts (see Where to Search list linked from main Section V)


1. Use your local phone book(s) to find your own and nearby cities,
     municipalities, and counties in the blue pages.
          Call as many as possible and ask who handles animal control
     for them, and what the animal control facility phone number is.
     Keep excellent notes, including city, facility name,
     facility phone number.
2. Create a lost poster (offer a reward if possible); create a
     bulletin board card; make enough copies for your first week's
     search or as many copies as you can afford, for the long haul.
For detail suggestions see Section IV-A-5.
3. Call each animal pound located via #1 above to find out if
     any animal remotely matching your pet's description has been
     added to their Found list, or brought in, dead or alive; ask
     if they will post info on their bulletin board for you; ask if
     you can email a poster to them for printing and posting. If yes, ask
     the pound to add you to their email address list so their security
     system will not reject your emails to them.
     animal control facilities are animal pounds which pick up stray
     animals, and accept stray and owner animals from the public.
     Check back at least every 5 days. Keep excellent notes including
     date called, city, facility, name(s), personal notes, and date
     to call back (ask how long they hold animals before disposal,
     and call back before the last day is up, such as every 5 days
     to stay within Federal rules).
 Visit facilities daily if possible.
TIP: The first time you visit a facility, search all intake lists
     back to the date your pet went missing.

4. Install shelter (with bedding) and food outdoors in case your pet
     shows up on its own. Maintain for the duration of your search.
5. Spend some time scouring the neighborhood in which the pet
     was lost, calling him only as you head toward home (or the spot
     where he was lost), not as you head away again; as you continue
     your neighborhood search, attempt to recruit kids and other caring
     individuals; hand out posters; hand out grocery store bulletin
     board cards. If your pet was lost from home, call out your door
     routinely for the duration of your search.

Do not overlook the possibility that your pet is in your neighborhood but unable to get home ... perhaps ill, injured, trapped, or terrified and hiding (especially cats). Read this entire web site carefully to determine all the ways and places this could happen and what to do about it. Expect the full read to take perhaps a couple of hours to maybe an evening of study time.

1. Repeat Day One, expanding area. Use a good clear map
     and keep solid notes on where you have worked to date;
     keep in mind that facilities are required to hold animals
     only 5 days under Federal law; some keep them longer.
2. Place ads in local papers. Place ad on Craig's list online.
     Start watching Craig's list every day for Found pets. Check
     newspaper Found ads every day.
Review lost and found ads
     back to the day your pet was lost.
3. Use local phone book(s) to find Humane Societies, and call them.
     Get a poster to them. These are shelters which investigate cruelty
     complaints, and which also accept stray and owner animals
     from the public. They do not pick up strays unless contracted
     with a municipality to do so. Call every 5 days, or according to
     their "holding time" policy.
4. Use local phone book(s) to find nearby Veterinary offices; call them
     and ask if they will post a LOST note on their bulletin board. Continue
     preparing lists of phone numbers and other contacts.
5. Check your outdoor shelter and food supply every day.

1. Repeat your efforts, expanding further out of your area for cities,
     pounds, shelters, vets.
2. Use your local Yellow Pages to locate possible no-kill animal
     shelters. On Saturday night or Sunday, get a Sunday Paper and
     look through Pets for Sale to find additional no-kill shelters. These
     are different from Humane Society/SPCA shelters in that they do not
     investigate cruelty complaints and they do not routinely euthanize.
     Call them. Attempt to recruit helpers. Get a poster to them.
     See list at left for other newspaper classified areas to check.
     Also watch Pets for Sale ads in case someone is attempting to
     sell your pet. As you surf the internet, watch for local shelters
     which perhaps do not advertise and are not well-known.
     Watch ads for breeding services or those looking for breeders.
3. Continue to put up posters and grocery bulletin-board ads
     wherever you go; ask others to post, especially further away.
     Everywhere you go or call, ask people if they will put up posters
     for you (email posters to whomever you can, for them to
     print out and post).
4. Contact Highway Departments and Sanitation Departments; ask
     if they will put a poster up in their coffee room / break room.
5. Start contacting groomers, pet shops, trainers. Get posters to them.


1. Continue expanding on above activities, expanding outward
     from area of loss as much as possible every day.
2. Contact news media to see if they'll include your story as
     a human interest news article, including large and small
     newspapers, radio, TV, etc.
3. Check newspapers for Found ads, and continue watching
     every day from now on. If you have a computer, check
     newspaper ads online, too. Either place, some people do
     not list each day, some do; some list Sunday only; some list
     on another day only. Some advertise only one time. Set up a
     system for yourself so you can check each quickly every day.
     Contact research labs and get posters to them.
5. Prepare your lists for re-calls on day 5.

If your pet has been impounded, this is the 5th day, the last day any facility is required by Federal law to keep your animal in their facility. Re-visit or re-call as many as possible. Then renew your search efforts starting from Day One.

Each person who
does not find a lost pet contributes a full share to the multi-millions of lost and abandoned pets dying in the country every year.

Each lost pet circumstance requires that the owner have a personal, humane, and social obligation to find him.

Remember that "Day Five" might be different for different pounds or shelters, since some hold animals longer (although the pet might still be put up for sale after the 5th day) and since you did not call each of them on Day 1. Ask each facility how many days they hold before disposal, and then keep good records on who does what.

This is an ongoing effort~! Every "5th day", repeat, repeat, repeat. Keep a schedule to determine when Day Five is due for each pound, shelter, etc. Once you determine which places will do a good job keeping an eye out for your lost pet (especially if you have others helping who double check that particular facility), then back off a little ... schedule to contact them once every two weeks or once every month. This will lessen your monthly labor dramatically, while still keeping up your intensive efforts.

Keep in mind that one person, doing 5 things per day, can accomplish 150 lost pet tasks in a month. Five people doing the same can accomplish 750 tasks every month. Do your best to enlist others to help you; this can also give you a breather on days you absolutely cannot attend to the project. As you work your search, start setting up sets of tasks for other people to do for you, so you know exactly who is doing what. If you are unable to recruit others, 150 items per month is still a lot, and can go a long, long way toward eventually bringing your pet home.
     If, on the other hand, you can
--put in one hour per day searching the neighborhood where the pet was lost,
--put in one hour per day finding facilities, shelters, veterinarians, and other contacts, and then start calling and emailing, and
--spend one hour or more every 5 days searching facilities in person,
you will accomplish many, many more items per month, and have an even better opportunity of getting your lost pet home.

Be sure to take adequate time to study this entire lost pet site, in order to get a handle on tasks which we have not presented in-depth in this section, and to thoroughly understand the whys, hows, and what ifs in your greater-search area.

Do not give up.
About 50% of pets which end up in pounds and shelters are euthanized.
Only 10% of dogs are reclaimed by their owners; cats fare much worse than dogs, with only 2 - 5% ever being reclaimed by their owners according to the HSUS. Your lost pet is out there and will likely show up in a pound or shelter eventually.
Do not give up too soon.

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