General Dog

Losing Your Pet – The First Few Hours are Crucial

You discover your pet is missing, and your first instinct is panic mode. Racing through your mind is every bad thing that could happen to your pet while they are away from your care. You are scared and unsure of what to do. What you need is an action plan.

Take a deep breath and know that statistically, the odds are good that you will find your pet soon. The first thing you should do is download a reputable pet finder app or website. is one of the options. The ASPCA also has an app. On these apps, you can upload a picture of your missing pet, along with other applicable details. The app will help you create an alert that will then go out to others who have the app in the geographical area. Features include facial recognition software to help scan through thousands of pictures of found pets across numerous platforms. Once you have taken this crucial step, it is time to work the rest of your action plan.

If your pet is microchipped, call the company and make sure your contact information is up to date.

Get reinforcements. The first few hours are critical, and you need help, if possible.

Canvass the area where your pet went missing. Calmly call as you search the area. Remember, your pet may be frightened and not respond. This does not mean your pet is not in the area. Look in any likely hiding spots. Work the area in ever-widening circles.

Put a post-up on all your personal social media accounts. Search for lost and found groups on social media. Post a picture and details in every group you can find. Unfortunately, there are people who troll these websites shaming pet owners who have lost their pets. Ignore them and plough through.

Have flyers made, or print them at home as soon as possible. They should include a picture of your pet, any identifying marks, and your contact information. You should consider offering a reward for the safe return of your pet.

Distribute these flyers throughout your neighborhood, or wherever the pet went missing.

Put up an alert on your neighborhood app. If you are not sure if your neighborhood has one, check They connect thousands of communities across the United States.

Call all shelters in your area and ask to file a missing pet report. If your pet is not there, check back daily, even if you filed a report. Shelters are often overworked and understaffed. You do not want to see your pet fall through the cracks.

Contact all rescues in your area. If your dog is a specific breed, you may want to consider contacting rescues in a wider area. Caring people who find your dog, but cannot take care of it, may take it to a rescue they are familiar with. This rescue could be further away than your pet would have traveled on their own.

Make sure that every veterinarian in your area has one of the flyers that you created.

If your pet went missing from home, try to have someone stay at the house in case your pet returns. The first few hours are often crucial in increasing the odds of seeing your pet returned home safely. If your pet is not back in a few hours, there is still plenty of room for hope. Widen your search area. Go out at least twice a day and call for your pet.

Keep your app alert updated. Keep bumping or making a new post on social media sites. Stay in touch with shelters and rescues. Remain hopeful as you continue the search. The ASPCA is a great website to bookmark for all pet owners. They have helpful articles and helplines for most issues a pet owner may encounter.

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David Beart

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