Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Pet Gone?


by Mona Mistric

Pets run away for numerous reasons. They are bored, lonely, haven’t been neutered and their sexual urges are raging, an unexpected event frightened them, something piqued their curiosity, windows or gates were accidently left open, cages weren’t properly closed, or you recently moved to a new home and they are looking for their old, familiar surroundings. Regardless of the reason they are missing, what can you do to get your lost pet back home?

Notify police immediately, if you believe your pet was stolen.

If your pet is microchipped,

  • Contact the company that registered your chip to see if anyone has found your pet and notified them.
  • Give your pet’s chip number to animal control, vet offices, and rescue groups in the area where your pet was lost. Provide them with the link http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ where they can look up most microchip numbers.

There are many websites dedicated to helping with finding lost pets. 

  • PetAmberAlert.com uses the same technology as a child amber alert. They send phone alerts with photos, descriptions, and details––to neighbors, veterinarians, animal shelters, animal control, hospitals, pet stores and rescue volunteers up to a 100 mile radius of where your pet was last seen – whether it’s a cat, dog, or any other kind of lost pet. Lots of people will receive the alert and will be on the lookout for your pet.
  • Pet specific forums and cross posts can be helpful too. Use internet search engines with keywords like “Lost my Hamster,” or “Missing Cockatiel.”
  • Pet FBI and some other sites have free templates to create lost/missing pet flyers.

Inform Your Social Media Network: Upload your flyer to your Facebook page, the Lost Pet Facebook page, Instagram, Craigslist, Twitter, and other social media networks and ask them to share, retweet, and spread the word. Email your flyer to family, friends, and colleagues – ask them to share with their contacts too.

Advertise through your local newspapers and radio stations and check the Lost and Found Pet sections of your newspaper.

Post flyers at the observer’s eye level at grocery stores, convenience stores, community centers, veterinary offices, trainers, groomers, pet stores, telephone poles, traffic intersections, pet supply stores, parks, schools, bus stops, doctors’ offices, and doors of your neighbors.

Search your neighborhood. 

  • The best times to look are early in the morning or late in the evening when there isn’t much activity. Early in the morning, you can walk around calmly calling your pet’s name. In the evenings, take a flashlight and shine it in places where you think your pet might hide and look for the eyes to reflect back at you. Call out to your pet by name and then listen carefully. She might only make a soft sound, if she is afraid.
  • Ask everyone if they’ve seen your pet – neighbors, mail carriers, delivery people, anyone you see walking their dog, joggers, meter readers, anyone working in the neighborhood. Ask the children playing and riding their bikes. They might make it their mission to find your pet. Ask permission to enter sheds, garages, and other good hiding areas in neighbors’ yards. Give them a recent photo or flyer of your pet with your phone number on it.
  • If you’ve recently moved, check your old house and ask the neighbors there to let you know if they see your pet.

Place things by your door to attract your pet. 

  • Her bedding or mat
  • Your sweaty clothes
  • Smelly food
  • Shake a box of her favorite treat
  • Squeeze her favorite squeaky toy
  • Have family pets make a scent trail going in and out of your house.
  • Calmly call your pet. Speak in your normal voice. Or whistle.

Clear thinking and a systematic search is what is needed to find your missing pet. Knowing what to do can redirect your panic into constructive action.


Most dogs are found within a two-mile radius from home, since they are just too busy sniffing and investigating their new surroundings to move in a straight line. Check along the path you take for walks and then branch out from there. If your dog is shy or up in years, she will most likely hide in bushes or under cars. If she is outgoing, she will be looking for other dogs or friendly people.

Sometimes a cat will get into a small space in your home and can’t get out. Look behind appliances, in closets, kitchen or bathroom cabinets. If your cat is an indoor cat, she will be very frightened of the outside world and most likely will run to the nearest small hiding place––the smaller the better. If she can’t find a good spot down low, she will climb a tree or even onto someone’s roof. Most indoor/outdoor cats have a regular territory of less than 500 feet. She may be accidently trapped in someone’s shed, garage, crawlspace, or basement.

Ferrets can travel miles from home. First, check your house to make sure she isn’t stuck in a closet, cabinet, drawer, or even a small hole. Leave her carrier open with some bedding, food, and water next to your front and back doors. If your ferret went on walks with you on a leash, check those areas. Like cats, once outside, they try to find a close, safe place.

Rabbits and guinea pigs are attracted to gardens, so begin your search there and then search at least three houses down in your neighbors’ gardens. Sometimes they decide to come home on their own, so be sure you to leave their hutch open with plenty of food and water. If your pet is still in the house, search every nook and cranny–– including air ducts, behind in the hollow under reclining chairs, wrapped in the bottom of drapes, in any hidden recessed area.

Birds that rarely fly or have clipped wings can still fly great distances. Place her cage outside where she can easily see it. Throw bird seed onto your roof, car, picnic table, anywhere with a lot of visibility. Sing or talk as you normally would to your bird. When she eats the food and hears your voice, she will return to you or her cage. Do this during the day and especially around dusk when birds are most active.

Lost a turtle or tortoise? Tortoises lost in a house will usually seek out a dark place underneath something, such as under furniture or appliances. If she is missing from an outside pen, carefully search loose soil, around and under rocks and vegetation, as she may have burrowed down–– especially if it’s cold outside. A good time to look for her is during the morning, as she might come out of her hiding place to bask in the sunlight. Make sure you post flyers, as well meaning neighbors have been known to find turtles and move them further away to wooded areas or waterways.

If your mouse or hamster is missing, immediately close and seal all windows and doors. Check under and behind the furniture, along the baseboards, inside cabinets, drawers––all small hollow places, including your shoes and the feed bag. Put her cage on the floor and find something to make a ramp to the entrance. Place her favorite food (cheese or fruit) in the cage, turn off the lights, (Mice and hamsters are nocturnal.) and check back every hour until she returns. When you see her in the cage, close the door.

If your snake or lizard escapes, immediately close and seal all windows and doors. If she gets outside, there’s little chance of ever finding her again. Check your pet’s room first and then move on to nearby rooms. Where should you check? Everywhere, so be methodical in your search. Sprinkle flour in the doorways and around the baseboards and appliances to track her movements. Seal off the room where she’s active. Keep the area warm to encourage her to stay active. Then put her favorite food in her cage or a box on the floor in that room. When she gets hungry, she’ll be looking for an easy meal and head right to it.