Help! I’ve lost my pet. What do I do?
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What to do if you lose a pet

June 1, 2017

Help! I’ve lost my pet. What do I do?

Nobody plans to lose a beloved furry family member, but it happens all the time – a door or window is left open, or a gate unlatched. Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience for you, your family and your pet. Here are some tips about what you can do to help your pet find his way home.

Search your neighbourhood

Walk or drive through your neighbourhood several times a day, especially early in the morning and at dusk. Ask neighbours and their children (kids often know more about the neighbourhood than working parents), letter carriers, joggers, garbage collectors, newspaper carriers and others to look out for your pet.

BC Pet Registry – Register your pet’s permanent ID

If your pet has permanent ID (microchip or tattoo), register their information in BC Pet Registry, the BC SPCA’s provincial pet ID database. By registering your pet’s permanent ID, you increase your chance of a quick reunification! Visit for more information.

Use the internet

There are many websites dedicated to helping lost and found animals be returned to their guardians, including missing pet sites and local neighbourhood groups on Facebook or other social media platforms. Check any and all online resources to help find your pet.

Put up eye-catching posters

Put up “Lost Pet” posters featuring a large photo of your pet that is clear and in focus. Post them in as many places as possible: around the site where the animal was lost; grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles etc.

Consider offering a nominal reward

Beware of callers who say they have your pet and demand you send them money for the animal’s return. Withhold one of your pet’s identifying characteristics so you can verify the honesty of a caller who is claiming to have found your pet.

Place an ad in the paper

Place an ad in the lost column of local newspapers – online and in print. Since many papers allow people to put “found” ads for free, check newspapers daily in case someone is trying to find you!

Visit animal shelters

Go and personally visit the animal shelters in your area — rather than phoning them. Often shelters have many animals that might match your pet and workers are often too busy to handle phone calls. Visit the shelter every 24 hours. If you don’t have a shelter in your area contact the local police.

Check animal control (city pounds)

Contact your local animal control department, usually run by the city or municipality. Check your local listings if you live outside Metro Vancouver.

Check animal hospitals and vet clinics

If your pet was injured he or she may have been taken to a nearby veterinarian or animal hospital before being taken to an animal shelter.

Try the power of scent

Try placing a recently worn piece of clothing outside. Animals have a keen sense of smell and familiar smells can bring them home. For indoor cats, place their litter box outside.

Was your pet stolen?

It is far more likely your pet has strayed from home than he or she has been stolen. If you have evidence that leads you to believe your pet was stolen, contact police and your local BC SPCA or animal control agency. Permanent identification in the form of tattooing or a microchip implant can help authorities track your animal.

Don’t give up!

Continue to search for your pet even when there is little hope. Some animals who have been lost for months have been reunited with their guardians.

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