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How to Cope With a Missing Pet

Updated on September 17, 2014

What should you do if your Pet goes Missing.

Losing a pet can be nerve wracking and sad.The most important thing is to act quickly. The sooner you look for them, the more likely you will be able to pick up their trail. Unfortunately, many people don't realize the pet is gone right away. Often, we think they are in another room. Cats can be more tricky than dogs because they may tuck themselves away somewhere right in your house and no amount of calling will bring them out. If you have a pet that normally goes out on his own, it may be even more difficult to realize they are gone. The first thing you want to do is try to discern the spot they left from and look for a path they may have been likely to take. There are several factors to consider. Is your pet familiar with the neighborhood and the people and pets that live here? Are there stray cats and dogs in the area? Is there a lot of traffic, noise or people that may intimidate them? Is there something enticing like food scraps, friendly people or other animals they may choose to follow?

Our pets are our babies

Sweet baby Ella!
Sweet baby Ella! | Source

Steps you can take to prevent your pet from taking off

  • If your pet is outside, make regular checks to see that fences and gates are secure.
  • Walk around your yard to look for places they may be digging. Many dogs dig out under a fence!
  • Check that collars and leashes are in good repair and securely closed.
  • If your pets are indoor animals, make sure windows and doors are secure.
  • Have your pets micro-chipped. If you can't afford it, there are services for discounts.

4 Cats in a Window

This is the window they escaped out of!
This is the window they escaped out of! | Source

As my pets were.

He found one of our girls right outside the window but our Ella was still out there. Our smallest and youngest little girl who is the biological sister and best friend to our missing Finn. Now, true panic set in. New flyers, new contacts, days and nights walking and driving. And tears, so many tears, mixed with fear, worry and anger. And, sometimes, a bit of hurt. How could they do this to me?! One week after Ella went missing, we heard a mournful meow, Once, twice....We realized it wasn't in the house! I ran to the balcony door and there was Ella. She was dirty, thin and pretty skittish but she was home! That first night, she ran around the house crying. We think she was looking for Finn. She has since settled down and filled out. She doesn't leave my side much and that's okay with me. Unfortunately, Finnick has not come back home. Some days when I open the door in the morning, I expect him to be sitting in front of it, waiting to come in. I am not giving up. I continue to hang fyers, post ads and talk to anyone I run into in the neighborhood. Our home is not the same without him.

Don't let your pet be the next statistic.

According to the National Pet Register, over 10 million pets go missing each year. Millions do not make it back home. One in three pets gets lost at least once in its lifetime. Don't let your pet be the next statistic. There are, sadly so many bad things that can happen to our pets when they are out alone. They are also at risk of being taken. One of the ways to help your pet is to be prepared in advance and to act QUICKLY!

This is our story:

On February 12th, 2014, we realized that one of our cats was gone. No one remembered him slipping out but we knew he had probably been gone for about half an hour. We ran outside immediately, calling for him. We didn't find Finnick after a walk around the immediate area. So began the flyers and pounding the pavement. Two days later, on Valentine's Day, we came downstairs at six am and saw that two more cats were missing. That was when we became aware of the cool breeze. My son ran to the window and found that the screen had been pushed out.

Have you ever had a pet that went missing?

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Organizations that can help you find your pet

The organizations that I used are local. The most important thing to do first is to check local shelters and any county organizations. I went online and found a list of local shelters. I was able to both e-mail some and look at pictures at others. Someone directed me to Straydar on FaceBook. This is an amazing group of volunteers who go out of their way to rescue strays and help match lost and found pets. They were also instrumental in supplying tips (some of which you are reading here) and providing even more resourceful groups. Craigslist is another great place to both post and peruse for lost/found pets.

Things you can do to Find your Pet

Enlist friends
Make flyers
At Home
contact shelters
pass out flyers
post flyers everywhere
leave food or water outside
contact missing pet networks
talk to everyone in the area
hang a flyer near a school
put something that smells like you outside
check pounds, shelters and classifieds
walk the neighborhood, especially at dawn or dusk
Check that the flyers are still up or hang more
leave a garage or doggy door
place classified ads
go door to door, ask permission to look in people's yards
offer a reward
walk the neighborhood, again and again
Don't give up!

How to Avoid Losing Your Pets

Although, so many protective measures would seem obvious, we often become complacent about the safety of our pets. I have heard so many stories about how pets have gone missing because of a fence in disrepair, or someone forgetting to latch the gate or even leaving the door open. If you have a pet who consistently tries to "escape", you will probably have to be on high alert all the time. But what about the pet that seems to be content staying home? What factors contribute to their getting out? Is it mating season? Do you have a new pet, family member or houseguest? Is your pet in an unfamiliar situation like a new home or vaction? Being aware of what can xause your pet to get out can help you to keep him safe.

The Missing Cats

Our lost boy!
Our lost boy! | Source
Our two babies just a day before Finn went missing.
Our two babies just a day before Finn went missing. | Source
Ella on her first day back, a little bedraggled, not taking her eyes off of us!
Ella on her first day back, a little bedraggled, not taking her eyes off of us! | Source

What to include on a Missing Pet Flyer.

Make sure there is a clear picture. Be sure to include a phone number. Let people know how much your pet is missed. If you are planning to give a reward, include it. That may make some people more vigilant and may also sway someone who may have found (and been planning on keeping) your pet. Have several different flyers with different pictures of your pet. If size and colors are not obvious, write them. A few more tips about flyers:

  • Keep track of where you put them.
  • Go back to each spot and rehang them
  • Leave extras if anyone wants to take it
  • hang them in local vetinarian's offices
  • PetSmarts have a bulletin board for ads.

Enlist Help.

Don't be afraid to call friends and family, both to help in the search and to help spread the word. The more people that know, the more likely to have someone spot them. This evening, I took my usual walk around looking for Finn, missing one month now. I stopped to ask people walking their dogs. A conversation ensued and they mentioned a cat walking into their open balcony door last week. It gave us hope that he is still around and it got two more people on the lookout. If you are searching for lost pet, I wish you the best of luck in finding him. If you have a pet, please take these measures to ensure his safety. You don't want your pets to be part of the statistics.


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    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 20 months ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, Nell, that is sad. It is kitty season right now and it makes me wish I had a big farm to keep them all safe!

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 20 months ago from England

      Came back for another read, as there seems to be a number of cats going missing in our neighborhood. one cat named Toast, ginger marmalade cat, always lay down outside his house, one day he was there then he was gone, someone took him, they never got to the truth, so sad.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Sadly, Ruby, there are "dog flippers" they also pick up "found" pets, claiming they are theirs, then turn around and sell them. We had a dog stolen from us many years ago. In a crazy turn of events, the people who purchased him from a broker ended up giving him back to us!

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I think i was meant to read this, last evening i heard a knock on my door and saw a woman holding a piece of paper in her hand, when i opened the door i saw tears in her eye's. She was holding a picture of her pet beagle, Harley. She said that he was missing and was fearful that he'd been stolen. I felt so sorry for her. I took her phone number down and looked carefully at Harley so i would recognize him if i saw him. I can't understand a person stealing an aminal, don't they know pets are part of a family? Thank you for great tips and a well written hub...

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      So glad it was a nightmare with a happy ending! Thanks for stopping by, Nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hiya, this reminded me of the day we lost our dog! yikes! we searched everywhere, all day long....then came home, still not there, then a phone call from my relative saying that our dog was sitting on her doorstep barking to come in! Phew, that was a nightmare!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, crazybeanrider! That was shall my wish. Finn was gone for 6 weeks when we got the call from animal control. We were able to spend his last hour with him. My heart is still broken. It's been 3 weeks. And I am just now learning to leave the house and not look for him everywhere I go. Thank you for your sweet comment! So glad you found your Sally!

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 3 years ago from Washington MI

      That is just awful. Don't give up hope on Finn, my Sully went missing for three months. I lived in Daytona beach where there was a lot of traffic, and did everything you wrote about and 3 months later I got a call someone saw a cat that had "cow" markings as I listed in my flyers. I went searching and spotted her. I had to corner and net her, but as I walked home with her in my arms my neighbors were cheering. She was found 2 streets over. I hope Finn has at least found a safe haven, but don't give up. My little Sully has since passed, but they always remain deeply entrenched in our hearts. My wish is that Finn comes home to you soon.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Bk42author! So sweet. Thanks for stopping by and voting I appreciate your concern!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Cris! I do remember when your Oreo went missing. I specifically remember trying to imagine how hard it must have been for you. Thank you so much for the votes and prayers! xo

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      I'm so sorry about Finnick! RIP. Thank you for sharing. Voted up!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very useful hub Randi. Wish you've written this long ago before our Oreo gone missing. That was an awful experience for us and I can very much relate on your story. Like you, our home is not the same without Oreo but of course, we learn to move on and pray for him.

      Voting up and sharing.

      RIP Finn.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, Audrey, thank you so much for asking. Sadly, we did find him and he was critically injured. I am in the process of finishing my hub on coping with pet loss

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I am so sorry! But your article is so useful for all of us---I hope you find him soon!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hi Abby! Thank you! I was thinking about you and wondering how you are doing. I am so sorry that you are missing a pet. Have you found him/her?

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great article, Randi! One of my pets has been missing for over a week now. These ideas are very helpful.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Writerjanis! It has been tough! Even with all the research we've done, or boy is still missing. Thank you for stopping by my hub#

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      It's awful when one of your pets is missing. Thank you for posting so many valuable tips for pet owners.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      You are right, Frank! You just have to hope someone will take them in to get scanned. We are thinking about adding gps, too! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      I love my little buddy and it'll kill me to lose him I have the chip and its so worth the expense..

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Eddy! Much appreciated!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      To lose a pet must be awful but I am sure many will find this great hub so useful Voted up for sure and enjoy your day.


    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, CyberShelley and welcome to my site! At this point, the not knowing is most definitely hard! Thank you for your votes up

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway! You couldn't have looked any crazier than I do! I walk around and around, calling his name. Every time I open the front door, I call him and the same everyday when I return home from work. Your issues are much appreciated!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Sheila, it is difficult. Most of the search info is from ask the organizations I contacted. They were very helpful!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Marvellous article and what can be a hurtful event followed by the worry about if your beloved pet is lying somewhere injured and wondering where you are. Up, useful and interesting.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What a terrible thing to have happened. I hope he returns. I had a beloved cat who went missing one time for 6 weeks and another for 3. A bully cat was keeping her away. Cats typically do not go far, where's dogs do. I looked like a crazy woman, but what I did is walk the neighborhood calling her name and then I would just stop and listen intently. I found her that way. Another cat of mine had been accidentally trapped in a neighbor's crawl space. I found him a similar way -- intense listening. I would always recommend encouraging neighbors to check garages, sheds, crawl spaces, etc. Rewards also help. I pray that he returns safely and soon.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      I've never had one of my pets go missing, but I know I'd be going crazy until I found them. I've heard of a few of the ways you mentioned to conduct a search, but many of them are new to me. Thanks for providing the great information.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so very much, Joelle! I am still holding out hope!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I am sorry to hear that you still have one cat missing, Randi! I hope that your can will come home soon! It's always a sad time when that happens! Thank you for sharing your experience! Great tips!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Aww, Maria! It's crazy how they make us feel. How sad that your Daisy took off but what a beautiful gift she left you! I think I felt must betrayed when the girls followed! In my heart I know they live their jobs and never intended to take off forever.I feel that he is nearby and being the should boy he is, probably in someone's house! I just want to know that he is safe. Thank you so much for your votes and words of comfort! As I am sure you did after Daisy left, I just snuggle my 3 remaining girls even closer!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thanks, Billy! It's sure been a lot of time and energy!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Jackie, the 2 that took off are just under 2. They're rescues from a pretty feral family and ask have bad habits. They are fixed but apparently can still have that same call of the wild. Thus is actually Finns second time out. The last time was exactly 1 year ago so I am pretty certain that's what it is. I hope he doesn't come back feral!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Alphapx! Welcome to my hub! I appreciate your stopping by and hope you never have to use these tips.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Randi,

      Oh I am sorry you and your family experienced this and will keep positive thoughts for the safe homecoming of Finn. I do understand the feeling of betrayal, although intentions cannot possibly be deliberate... but we give our heart and soul to our fur babies and want to always keep them safe.

      Our Daisy had just birthed five beautiful kits. She literally ran out front door (busy time, totally unnoticed, discovered missing hours later)... and at the time, we lived on a super busy street and we were never able to find her. I fear the worst happened. Her kids thrived and we had her "runt" Scottie for 17 amazing years.

      You have given us all practical tips at a time when emotions run high.

      Voted UP and UABI. Hugs and prayers, Maria

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great advice, Randi! It's been a long time since we had this happen but it can be traumatic for sure.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am so sorry and it is so hard to figure cats out. I had a mother one I gave away come back many many miles to my house just to leave the next summer because she was in heat? Boy cats will leave for the same reason although since yours are inside cats I imagine they are fixed? Who knows, maybe there was just a rambler in there that called him away and he is happy. I had one go wild that went into the woods and when he came back one day to the edge of the woods he was wild and his eyes were veiled (scary looking) but he must have been hungry and couldn't find anything so I fed him and that veiled look went away but he still wouldn't let me touch him. Don't be sad; he is probably fine. How old was he?

    • Alphapx profile image

      Alphapx 3 years ago from Philippines

      You have a cute pet cat. I like the story shared that I may get some tips on how I can make my plan if my pets would be lost someday.

      I lost my pet once and I went from neighbor to neighbor, my heart pumping. Yet, my pet was with another bunch of street dogs about 500 meters across our block.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, so much, Faith! what an encouraging story! We did have one come home and are still looking for one! I appreciate the votes and sgare!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, it is such a terrible feeling knowing your beloved pet is out there in the world. I am sorry yours our missing! I do hope they are returned to you. We have had two pets to get out of our backyard in the city, but we found one right away, and the other little one, we did not. Thankfully, believe it or not, a couple of streets over in our neighbor in the city, Cookie, our dog, was hiding in the bushes and the owner heard her whimpering as she was scared. The owner happened to work at a Pet Care Center and had taken Cookie to work with her and her ID we had on her, she was able to contact our Vet, who contacted us and we went right up there and brought her home.

      Great information included here. We had put up little bulletins all around our neighborhood.

      Up and more and sharing


      Faith Reaper