What to do if your pet is missing - SPCA

Take action immediatelyFirst search your home and yard carefully. Look under bushes and every area that would be a hiding place for your pet to go. Walk the neighborhood, especially where you normally go to walk your dog. Call your pet and make familiar sounds your pet is used to hearing. Drive around the neighborhood.  If you do not find your dog or cat within a reasonable time after canvassing the neighborhood, then you need to make flyers to put around the neighborhood. Alert neighbors, shelters, your mailman, and delivery persons that your pet is missing. Give the flyers to walkers, joggers, people with dogs, newspaper delivery person, or anyone you see regularly in your neighborhood. The more people you alert means more people will be on the lookout for your dog or cat. Call and visit the local shelters daily to look for your pet. Notify Prince George's Animal Management at 301-780-7200
Making flyers
Use bright colored or fluorescent paper for high visibility. The flyer should have REWARD on it and also LOST DOG or LOST CAT. You should also put the words "call if sighted" on the flyer. Some pets will not come up to total strangers and it is important to get that sighting so you know your dog or cat is still safe. Give a description of the pet and telephone numbers where you can be reached. It is good to leave a home number and a cell phone number.  If possible have someone stay at your home to monitor the phone or give a phone number for a friend or family member who can answer the calls for you. You should put the flyers in plastic protective sleeves to protect them from the weather. It is best to have the opening of the sleeve at the bottom so that rain will not get in the sleeve. If you use staples be sure to staple the bottom. If you have to use tape to attach the flyer to a sign then be sure and tape the bottom so the flyer can not slip out.
Posting flyers You need to start posting flyers in the immediate neighborhood first and then expand to cover a 3-mile radius. You should post at every stop sign/pole that leads in and out of your project. Also, if you see people while you are putting up the flyers hand them one and ask them to be on the look out for your pet.  Dogs usually circle within a 3-mile radius of where they were first lost. If you do get a call of a sighting respond as soon as possible and try to get as much information as possible. Ask which direction the animal was traveling. Ask if it was walking along the road or sidewalk or going through yards. Most pets will take the easy route. They will not travel through high brush unless chased. If you go to the scene where the dog or cat was last spotted concentrate on that area for awhile and talk with people that are outside. Just because your pet was spotted in one location does not mean it will stay there so if you don't have any success seeing the pet then expand your search radius further. Be sure and put up flyers at places that people frequent such as shopping centers, schools, playgrounds, bus stops, veterinary offices, pet stores, etc.
Important time to be searching for your petPets that are lost seem to travel at dusk and dawn. Be sure and walk or drive around the area during those time periods. Most animals will be exhausted and rest during part the day.
Set a trapIf your dog or cat has been spotted regularly you can set up a humane trap to try and capture him. You can obtain a trap from your local shelter or SPCA. Your pet will be getting hungry if it has been out on it's own. It is good to use a smelly food to bait the trap. We recommend braunschweiger or liverwurst or fish. Also you can use other foods to attract the pet. Put pieces of the meat as a trail leading into the trap with the bulk of it at the back of the trap. Place an article of worn clothing in the trap for a familiar scent. Be sure to monitor the trap as some animals will try to get out and could harm themselves in the process. Monitor it at least hourly or sit off in a distance to observe.
Things to do at homeLeave a bowl of food outside your home and any familiar item of your pet's with a scent that might lure him back home.
Don't give upVisit your local animal shelter often. Check with rescues in your area. Also check if your pet has been killed along the highway by calling city, state, or county departments of transportation to see if they have any information. Run lost ads in your local papers. Replace any flyers that might come down. Change colors of the paper you use to alert people that your pet is still missing. Never give up.
Use caution if someone says they found your petNever give out all the identifying features of your pet. This way you can ask whoever finds the pet to describe the pet to you. If someone calls and claims they have your pet have them meet you at a public location if you cannot take along a family member or a friend.
When you find your pet When you do find your pet, stand still and call your pet to come in a calm voice. Use words that will make your pet want to come to you, like "come and get the treat [or cookie]". It is also good to sit on the ground when calling for your pet. He might think you would be angry at him, so he will feel less threatened if you are sitting on the ground. You can also make whimpering sounds to make the pet curious to come to you. Do not chase after your pet, as he will think he was bad and might run, or he might think you are playing a game. Be patient and coax him to you. Most importantly, stay calm.
We wish you the best in finding your lost pet.
SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County