The first and most important points are NOT TO PANIC and to NEVER GIVE UP - most pets will get lost at least once sometime in their lives and most will manage to find their way home by themselves.  Some pets, especially cats, have been known to return home safely even after several months of 'wandering'. 

Chances are that your pet is, at this very moment, being pampered by a 'well meaning' neighbour and is quite oblivious to the torment that it is putting you through.

If you are reading this out of interest rather than out of need, you could save yourself a lot of future heart-ache and money by having your pet  micro chipped  now, the least you can do for your dog is to put an ID Tag on it with your name and telephone number.

STAY CALM and work through the suggestions below:-

If you have lost your dog, consider how he behaves normally when off the lead.  Does he 'bolt' or 'wander'?  Dogs that tend to 'bolt' will generally cover greater distances when lost and will travel in straighter lines, dogs that 'wander' will not generally get so far before realising that they are lost.
Before you start your search, think if there is anywhere that your dog is likely to go - a neighbour who sometimes takes him for a walk, or a local school where he once got some lunchtime tit bits; anywhere that he may have purposely gone for a bit of extra attention.  If this does not find him, get a large scale local map and begin searching from a five mile radius back towards your house. Check side roads and footpaths as well as main routes. Dogs tend to be attracted to schools, rubbish tips, parks, farms, etc., so check these places first.

Cats on the other hand are more likely to have got stuck up a tree or in a drainage pipe than wandered off.  Check EVERYWHERE - cats can get into the most unlikely places! Washing machines, chimneys, behind wardrobes, under houses; if the space is big enough for a mouse to run, chances are that your cat will have followed it in there!!
Search your immediate home and gardens and get your neighbours to look in their garages and car boots before you start looking further afield. (One lady, in South Carolina, USA, found another useful tip in trying to find her cat. She spread as many paths as she could to her house of her cat's used litter and put some of her unwashed clothes around the garden. She continued calling her each night and she did come back. It's definitely worth a try.)

Whether you have lost your cat or dog, there are some key 'dos' and 'don'ts' to ensuring a safely returned pet:
  • Ask everyone in your neighbourhood if they have seen him (postmen and milkmen are particularly good)
  • Get everyone to search their own property and keep an eye out on their travels (the more people involved in your search, the better the chances of finding your pet)
  • Walk around your area calling for your pet.
  • Get all the members of your household to call for your pet - he may respond better to a particular voice or a certain tone may carry over a larger distance.
  • Shake a box of his favourite biscuits as you walk
  • Squeeze his favourite squeaky toy - anything that he will recognise and respond to (your neighbours will think that you are mad, but if it means to safe return of your pet; do you care?!)
  • Stop regularly and listen - your pet may be answering your call
  • Stay in one area long enough for your pet to reach you if he is in the vicinity.
  • Place an old pair of socks or old tracksuit bottoms outside your house.
  • Place a bowl of strong smelling food like fish or cooked meat out side your house.

One of the most successful methods for finding a lost pet is to place posters around your local area. These do not need to be highly professional, a simple sheet with a good description or photo, where he was last seen and a contact telephone number is all that it takes.


  • Make sure that any photos are a good likeness and as up to date as possible
  • Withhold a few identifying features from your description to make it easier to confirm a positive sighting
  • Say if your pet is 'approachable' or not
  • Make as many posters as you can afford
  • Fix them at eye level around your neighbourhood
  • Put posters in local supermarkets, hairdressers, vets waiting rooms, schools, etc. - anywhere that a lot of people are likely to see them
  • Post leaflets through the doors of all your neighbours - the more the better
Drive round your area calling - your scent can be picked up much easier if you are on foot and then followed back to your home.
Call your pets name then hurry off immediately to call from another location
If your pet has been found and his identity not known, it is likely that he has been handed in somewhere.    If a Dog Warden has collected your dog it only has seven days before it is passed to a re-homing centre - so act quickly, as it could have a new home the day after.   Unfortunately communications between organisations is poor mainly due to resources.  Contact each and everyone yourself.  Contact any animal organisations even if you think they are too far away - someone travelling through your area may have found your pet and then handed him in nearer their own home
  • Contact the local Police station 
  • Contact local veterinary practices - not just yours - as the RSPCA tend to take them to the nearest vet should they have been involved in a road traffic accident.
  • Contact the RSPCA - 0300 1234 999 
  • Contact any local pet rescue centres - Click Here
UK Animal Rescuers
List of many Local Animal Rescue Centres 
  • Contact any local catteries and kennels (Look in Yellow Pages)
  • Contact any local wildlife centres (you never know)
  • Look at web sites specialising in lost pets and register your pet:-


Dog Wardens post to this site and all their telephone numbers are listed - worth a look.

Site where you can register and look for your lost pet
Local contacts - Margaret 01524 823013 or Pauline 01524 822518

Site where you can register and look for your lost cat


Site where you can register and look for your lost pet
  • Check in the local papers for any 'lost and found' ads and place one of your own if you can
  • Go and check out any possibilities even if the description is not quite right - two descriptions of the same animal rarely match.
If anyone has any more tips or advice - please email me to include them on the page.