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  • Sallie Rhodes and Stephanie Stullich

Kitty Post: Finding Lost Pets

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

It can be a scary world out there for pets who somehow get separated from their homes and families – but the American Humane Association estimates that as many as one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. Sadly, statistics indicate that many lost pets never make it home. Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) offers some tips on what to do if your own pet goes missing.

Start with preventative measures

Whether your pet is indoor only or indoor/outdoor, it’s a good idea for it to always wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your name, current phone number, and other contact information. BCC recommends microchipping your pets and making sure you register the microchip with the company that provided the chip (and don’t forget to update your information when changes occur).

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a study of animal shelters confirmed the much higher rate of return of microchipped cats and dogs to their families – among animals brought to the shelters, 38% of microchipped cats and 52% of microchipped dogs were returned to their owners, versus just 2% of all stray cats and 22% of stray dogs. Pets whose microchip was registered in one of the microchip registries were much more likely to be returned to their owner than pets with unregistered microchips (77% vs 42%).

If your pet is lost, please consider employing the following strategies for finding lost pets.

Start your search immediately

Most dogs and cats stay close to where they were originally lost. Remember to include the inside of your house in your search.

Recruit friends and neighbors to help you search

Take a picture of your pet with you, and don’t be shy about approaching neighbors and asking them to check their sheds and garages.

Leave your pet’s favorite food, treat or toy outside

Take these things with you when you search. Shake a food container, rattle a bag of food, or open a can if your pet eats wet food. Leave something with your pet’s scent outside, near your home (your pet’s bedding or your cat’s used litter box).

Post flyers in the area where your pet was last seen

This includes local veterinarians, businesses, schools, and churches. Include a photo of your pet, as well as a detailed description (age, gender, breed, color); where your pet was last seen; and your contact information.

Post information on your neighborhood listserv, Nextdoor, and other social media outlets These can include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, as well as radio stations. Include the same information as on the flyers.

Fill out a lost pet report

Fill out a lost pet report with Prince George’s (PG) Animal Services Division (301-780-7200, option "1") and your municipal animal shelter (if there is one).

Contact your local rescue organizations

A list of the cat groups serving PG County can be found at (click on “Get Help”).

Log into some lost pet websites

Some examples include The Center for Lost Pets (; Fido Finder ( and Missing Pet Partnership ( These systems will search for a possible match for your missing pet.

If you have a home security system that include cameras, view footage around the time your pet was lost.

Monitor the camera (particularly at night) to see if your pet comes back.

Tracking Dogs

You may want to employ tracking dogs to find your lost pet. Since an animal’s scent will fade over time, this should be done as soon as you realize your pet is lost.

What to do if you pet has been stolen

If your pet may have been stolen, contact your local police.

And lastly, don’t give up!

By using these strategies – especially microchipping and networking –you can help your furry friend find a happy ending, safely back in your loving home.

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