Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Tips On Finding a Lost Pet

The purpose of this page is to help you find a lost pet or report a found pet. But first, let’s talk about a couple of things you can do in advance of having a pet lost or stolen.

BEFORE YOUR PET GETS LOST/STOLEN:

  1. Take frequent pictures of your pet from different angles; show him/her full face, full body (from the front, side and back). Store the pictures on your computer and on your mobile device if you have one. You should also print a couple out and keep in your car (see #6 below).
  2. Prepare a “MISSING” poster ahead of time. Put all the information about your animal on the poster, with the most recent pictures you have, and update it every couple of months. The only thing to leave blank would be the date and location it was last seen. If the pet takes medication, make sure you mention that on the poster. Having these pre-designed will save you lots of time if your pet goes missing. Do NOT put your name and address on the flyer, but make sure to use a phone number that will be answered. Send a copy of the “poster” files to a friend who could work on printing them out while you are out searching.
  3. Have your pet micro-chipped. This is the easiest and most reliable form of having your pet returned to you safely. Also, when you have your pet at the vet for regular check-ups, have your vet “scan” for the chip to make sure it is still in a location that can be found. Chips have been known to move and a quick scan will not reveal the chip. And make sure that your registration with the chip company is up-to-date and correct.
  4. Never leave your pet unattended. Even if you have a six foot privacy fence that you feel is secure, dogs and cats can jump, burrow and be stolen from yards. Check on them frequently.
  5. Make sure your pet wears a collar at all times that has an identification tag with the best number to reach you (usually a cell phone).
  6. When traveling with your pets, keep them safe by using specially made pet seatbelts or enclosing them in a travel-safe crate. Also, keep a note in your glove-box that says you may be travelling with pets (keep this with the other pet travel items). List their names and enclose a couple of pictures, as well as an emergency number of someone not travelling with you. This is especially useful if you are in an accident and unable to search for the pet yourself or inform a first responder.

IF YOUR PET IS MISSING:

  1. Search the neighborhood and surrounding area IMMEDIATELY. Call friends/family/neighbors that know your animal and enlist their aid.
  2. Update the flyer you have pre-prepared with the last date/time and location seen and print at least 50 copies.
  3. Post the flyers in your area, as well as taking copies to local veterinarians, groomers, pet stores, and animal control.
  4. File a missing pet report at the local animal control areas.
  5. Use “window markers” and write Missing ______ (dog/cat) on the back window of the car. Use a short description of the pet (do not use breed names – describe the animal instead) and where last seen along with your phone number.
  6. Place a large poster at the nearest major intersection to your house with the flyer information. Make sure the letters are big enough to be read by drivers and keep it short. Make sure to include the phone number.
  7. Search the local shelters in person. Do not rely on the Shelter staff to tell you whether the pet is there or not – they are often overwhelmed and may not even have seen your pet when it was brought in.
  8. Be careful when searching. Ask permission to enter someone’s yard, search with another person or in groups and agree on a meeting place or keep in contact via text or phone and be observant of traffic and other hazards.
  9. Keep searching and use social media to get the word out. In addition to this site which already has a large following, other good places to post the information are: Petfinder, Craigslist, Facebook (there are several groups for lost pets on Facebook), Find Fido, Missing Pet, Home Again, Lost Dogs Database, Lostandfound.us, K911, Pets911, and Fido Finder. All of these sites allow free posting of missing/found pets. (See our safety tips on using social media.)
  10. Don’t give up hope. Animals have been reunited with their owners months and even years after having gone missing.

ONCE YOUR PET IS FOUND:

  1. Take the flyers down and dispose of properly.
  2. Alert animal control that the pet has been found.
  3. Alert all the social media sites that you used that the pet has been found so they can let everyone know the good news and focus attention on other missing pets.
  4. Fix whatever caused your pet to go missing (reinforce the fence, fill in holes and pack tightly, etc.)
  5. Celebrate and hug your pet!