Lost Pets

What to do if Your Pet is Lost

When your dog or cat wanders away from home, it can be a very traumatic experience for both of you! Follow the tips below to help find your pet.

Search your neighborhood

  • Walk or drive slowly through your neighborhood, calling your pet’s name, rattling their favorite toy, or shaking a treat bag. Make sure you’re listening for a reply.
  • If it’s a cat that’s missing, make sure you’re checking bushes, trees, under porches, or sheds nearby. Indoor cats usually don’t stray far and tend to hide.
  • Put their food or water dish outside, along with their litter box. It may help them find their way home.

Go online

  • Report your lost pet at IndyLostPetAlert.com. (You can also report a found pet or a pet sighting on this site, so be sure to look in that section of the site for your pet!)
  • Share a Facebook/Instagram post on your personal account. Make the post public, so people can view and share it. Make posts on your neighborhood Facebook page, as well as other neighborhood pages in the area.
  • Post on the Nextdoor app and on the “lost and found” or “pets” section of Craigslist.
  • Keep an eye on PetHarbor.com, an online database of lost pets in the area.

Make flyers

  • Post these in local shelters and animal clinics. When you find a pet, you should always take it to a shelter or clinic to check for a microchip.
  • Share your flyer with neighbors, postal workers, and delivery drivers.
  • Post them on in your yard, in your apartment lobby, and parking lot/garage. Also at nearby intersections, bus stations, and coffee shops.
  • Make sure it includes a clear photo, contact info, and anything else about the pet, like “Diabetic” or “Do Not Chase”. Adding a reward may help!

Visit your local Animal Control/Humane Society

  • Do this ASAP! There is usually a hold on strays for less than a week.
  • Bring a flyer of your pet and report them lost at locations nearby.
  • Bring proof of ownership like photos, vet information, or a microchip number.
  • A list of local shelters in Indianapolis is available at indy.gov.

Call your Microchip Company

  • Make sure your microchip information is updated and report your pet as lost through the microchip company.
  • If your pet received a microchip from one of our clinics, HomeAgain is the company we work with.

What to do if you Find a Lost Pet

We’ve all feared for a dog or cat running loose on a busy street. You may have tried to get the pet to safety or you may have wanted to, but weren’t sure how. Here are some helpful tips for the next time you see a lost pet.

Capture and contain the pet with care

  • Approach the animal slowly and cautiously, speaking in a calm, gentle voice. You could also use food to coax the animal to approach you.
  • Secure dogs using a leash (or a makeshift leash, like a belt or piece of rope) or contain them in a fenced yard. Cats are best confined inside a cat carrier, secure box with air holes, or a small room in your house.
  • Call Indianapolis Animal Care Services (or the police) if the animal is aggressive. Never put yourself in harm’s way when an animal is behaving aggressively.

Check for ID

  • Check for an ID tag on the pet’s collar.
  • If no ID can be found or the information on the tag is incorrect, have the pet scanned for a microchip. You can take the pet to a veterinarian, 24 hour animal clinic, or shelter near you to be scanned for a microchip free of charge.

Advertise and report the found pet

  • Take a picture of the pet, but do not show their collar, harness, bandana, or other special distinguishing features, such as having markings in a special shape. This is so that an owner can be asked to identify them. For the safety of the pet, you should ask the owner for a picture they’ve taken of the pet or vet records to prove their ownership.
  • Create a flyer with the photo of the pet and post it around the area the pet was found. If you found the pet in your own neighborhood, you may try going door to door with a picture of the pet.
  • File a found pet report with Indianapolis Animal Care Services ASAP!
  • Report the found pet at IndyLostPetAlert.com.
  • Share a Facebook/Instagram post on your personal account. Make the post public, so people can view and share it. Make posts on your neighborhood Facebook page, as well as other neighborhood pages in the area.
  • Post on the Nextdoor app and on the “lost and found” or “pets” section of Craigslist.

Take the pet to Indianapolis Animal Care Services or think about rehoming the pet

  • If you cannot locate the pet’s owner using the methods above, take them to Indianapolis Animal Care Services. Often pet owners will look for their lost pet at local shelters, which is why filing a found report with nearby shelters is an important step to take.
  • Be aware of local ordinances regarding the rehoming of pets! At the time of writing this, Marion county requires you to actively search for the pet’s owners for 14 days before rehoming the animal.

Preventative Measures

So, what can you do to prevent your dog or cat from getting lost in the first place? Below are several steps you can take to reduce the chance of losing your pet and never finding them again.

  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags at all times. Make sure their name and a working phone number are inscribed on the tag and easy to read.
  • Safe, tall fences and cautious door policies are important when owning an animal. Don’t give them the option to jump or run.
  • Make sure you have a good quality, updated photo of your pet on hand in case they do become lost.
  • Make sure your pets are microchipped and that their microchip information is registered and up-to-date! Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study of 53 shelters and found: The median return to owner rates for the shelters were 2.4 times higher for dogs with a microchip than all stray dogs (52.2% vs. 21.9%) and 21.4 times higher for cats with a microchip than all stray cats (38.5% vs. 1.8%). (Learn more: Microchips Made Simple.)