First, think about the tags your pet was wearing, and call the appropriate agencies. For example, if your pet was wearing a tag with a shelter phone number, call that shelter; if your pet was wearing a vaccination tag , call the veterinarian that inoculated your pet; if you are a client of Urban Out Sitters, call our 24-hour phone number. Inform the respective agencies that your pet is missing, and alert them to the possibility that they may get a phone call from someone that has found the pet.
Next, call the local animal shelter. We have compiled a list of Shelters below. Give the shelter a full description of your pet.
Now, prepare a flyer giving only a physical description of your pet. Do not give the name of the pet (it may not answer to its name when it is lost and frightened); do not give any behavioral information (behavior changes dramatically when a pet is lost); do not give exact location lost (it is not a question of how far your pet will travel on its own -- what often happens is that people who find a stray take it to their home quite a distance away, and then they either put it out again or it gets out. Your pet can be anywhere!); do not give information about a collar (40% of the pets recovered are lost with a collar and are found with no collar or a different one).
If you have a photo of your pet, try making one copy. If the copy depicts your pet accurately, then use it. If not, then using it can do more harm than good. You may want to consider using a line drawing from a breed book at your local library or bookstore instead. It often photocopies better than a photo.
Write the word REWARD on top of the flyer, in large print, and your phone number on the bottom. Giving an amount of reward will usually get you some crank calls from people who do not have your pet, but it does attract more people to the flyer. If you think your pet was stolen, do not indicate that because the person a stolen pet is most often recovered from, had nothing to do with theft, and you will scare them off. DO NOT even say, "no questions asked."
Make a list, using the yellow pages of all veterinarians, animal hospitals, pet shops, grooming shops, and any other facilities listed under pets. Combine the municipal section of the white pages with the yellow pages to get a comprehensive list of schools. Visit each facility, carry your own roll of masking tape, and ask permission to hang up a flyer. Whenever possible, do not leave it for them to do. One flyer put up in one veterinary office, will be seen by 30 to 40 animal owners a day -- and it is animal owners who take in strays. In the schools, post the flyers where the children will be sure to see them. Children are very good at spotting strayed pets (but horrible at catching them). By the end of the first day, you should have posted at least 200 flyers.
As you travel, look for community bulletin boards in shopping centers, churches, synagogues, or anywhere else that you can post a notice of general interest. Also put flyers on the streets at busy intersections (you may want to check the legality of posting on public property first).
Tomorrow morning, at sunrise, go to the location your pet was lost with a pen and pad. Write down the company name of services making deliveries at that hour. Some examples are bread, milk and newspaper delivery services. Call the dispatch offices for those companies, give them a description of your pet and ask that they alert their drivers. Most pets recovered while still on the street, are found during the quiet early morning hours and then hide when the tempo picks up. If possible, follow up with a flyer.
After you have done a thorough job of hanging up the posters,, follow up your earlier phone call with a visit to the municipal shelter for your area. Go, even if the shelter tells you that they do not have any animals fitting the description of yours right now, or that they will call you if one comes in, or even that they did not pick up any strays since your pet was lost - you must visit the facility. If you do not visit the shelter, you are jeopardizing the life of your pet.
Believe it or not, that is not all that needs to be done, but it is what needs to be done now! Call us during our office hours and we will answer any specific questions you may have, make long-term search recommendations, explain to you what Urban Out Sitters does in a search, and help you in any other way that we can.
Don't be discouraged! If you follow the suggestions we have given you, there is every reason to believe that your pet will be recovered. But it often takes time, and almost always takes hard work and perseverance.