If your pets make a break for it, the first and best thing you can do is stay calm. (I’m not always good at that one myself, but you should try.)
If you don’t know where your pet is, check your own property first. It sounds crazy, but your dog or cat may be hiding or stuck somewhere. My brother’s dog Lily Biscuits was missing one afternoon, and after searching the neighborhood for hours, my parents came home and heard whining coming from the crawl space. It seems Miss Lily Biscuits had gotten into the crawl space when my parents went in to take something out — and ended up getting locked in!
If you know for sure that your pet got out of the house and yard, it’s time to start walking. And talking. Call your pet’s name. Squeak their favorite toy, if they have one, or rattle a box of their favorite treats. Use a dog whistle, if you have trained your dog to respond to one. Talk to everyone you see and ask them if they have seen your missing pet. Someone may be able to point you in the right direction! And the more people that are looking, the better chance you have of finding your pet quickly.
Try to bring a friend or family member along on your searching — or at the very least, a cell phone. The last thing you need is to trip and break your ankle looking for a missing cat and have no way to get help!
Call the nearest veterinary offices, animal shelters, and police stations. Let them know you have lost your pet, and give them a description. Leave your phone number so they can call you back in case your pet is found.
If your pet is missing for several days, make a point of visiting the local vets and shelters. Your description of a pet and their description of a pet may differ greatly — when my Lally got out and was picked up by the police, they said she was a pit bull. Actually, she’s a boxer/shar-pei mix, but at least I got her and Moose back! You can leave pictures and flyers about your missing pet at every place you stop.
Speaking of flyers, you should post as many flyers about your missing pet as possible within a one-mile radius. Include pictures and a description. Offer a reward, if you want, but don’t say how much. Don’t give your address out, only a phone number. You can also post an ad in the local paper, or online at websites like Petfinder.
Last but not least, don’t give up. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of lost pets returning home months, even years after going missing! The next miracle pet could be yours.