If Your Pet is Lost

To have the best chance of finding your pet - do the following:

  1. Start searching for your pet immediately. Pets will usually hang around the area where they disappeared for 12-24 hours.
  2. Put up "Lost Pet" signs in your neighborhood. Post at intersections where cars will need to slow down. Include the word "REWARD". Each sign hung means more eyes searching for your pet.
  3. Put up “Lost Pet” signs in frequently visited sites, such as grocery stores and the Post Office.
  4. Search the neighborhood when it's quiet, either in the early morning or evening hours. Walk slowly and call to your pet, then quietly listen for any response. A trick is to record the sound of your electric can opener and play it while searching or have a box of food with you and shake it as you search.
  5. When canvassing the neighborhood, you should always have the dog’s favorite treats on hand in case you need to coax him to you.
  6. Enlist the help of neighborhood kids by offering them a reward for finding your dog.
  7. Visit ALL of your local shelters every two or three days. Many times a pet will be lost near its home, but it will be turned in at another shelter. Actually visiting the shelter is recommended. Shelter workers are overworked and sometimes a caller will be told that the pet is not there, when it really is. If it is a HART pet, check with us. We often have volunteers checking shelters and they can keep an eye out for your pet.
  8. CALL as soon as your pet is lost and leave a "Lost Pet Report" with all area shelters:

    Alexandria City 703-838-4774
    Arlington Co. 703-931-9241
    Fairfax Co. 703-830-1100
    Fairfax City 703-385-7919
    Prince William Co. 703-792-6465
    Loudoun Co. 703-777-0406 (Eastern Loudoun)
    540-882-3211 (Western Loudoun)
    Prince Georges Co. 301-499-8300
    Montgomery Co. 240-773-5960
    Howard Co. 410-313-2780
    Dist. of Columbia 202-576-6664 (New York Ave)
    202-234-8626 (Georgia Ave)

  9. Call/visit the shelters regularly until your pet is found. People will often feed a stray animal for a while hoping it will find its way home. Weeks may pass before a "found pet" is reported or brought in to a shelter.
  10. Go door to door in your neighborhood to see if anyone has seen your pet. Also ask your newspaper delivery person and your mail person.
  11. Look in people’s yards and around outside buildings. The dog could be hiding behind a shed, etc. Also, look around areas where garbage is stored.
  12. Contact area veterinary offices and submit a “Lost Pet” report.
  13. Put food and water out. The pet may find his way home when he becomes thirsty or hungry.
  14. Place "Lost Pet" reports in the newspapers. Read the newspaper "Found Reports" every day.
  15. Remain calm. Your dog probably knows how to survive on his own for longer than you think.
  16. Keep track of where you called, so that you do not duplicate your effort. Also, when the dog is found, please contact the shelters and vet offices and let them know.
  17. Contact the Non-Emergency dispatch for animal control to get any logged reports of loose dogs that match your pet's description. If animal control was unable to find the dog at that location, you can go search that area yourself.
  18. Post your pet on the following web sites. Some of these sites offer "Lost Dog Alerts" which will broadcast your pet's information to a network of shelters and animal control agencies. Some also have a lost pet poster which you can download.

    PetHarbor Free
    Dog Detective Free to register; one-time fee for Lost Dog Alert
    Petfinder Free
    Pets911 Free
    Craig's List Free
    K9 Amber Alert Free
    Hugs for Homeless Animals Free; They will broadcast your lost pet notice to their network of online shelters and animal control agencies.
    Fido Finder Free; optional upgrades.