Things You Should Know About Animal Shelters when Trying to Find a Lost Dog, Cat, or Other Animal

What one thing should you make sure you do when a pet is lost? How reliable is checking the Animal Shelter’s website to see if they have found my pet? Are there some animals whose pictures are not posted online? Read this associated content article to learn Things You Should Know About Animal Shelters When Trying to Find a Lost Dog, Cat, or Other Animal.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: Pictures Posted Online

Are pictures of pets the Animal Shelter brings in posted online? You might think that checking a shelter for your lost pet is as simple as checking their website. Here’s something you should know: while many Animal Shelters do post pet pics online, many also get in a high volume of pets and new animals come in daily. Kill Shelters may be more likely to go out and search for lost pets than No Kill Shelters, but those who have been lost may still wind up at either place. The pictures posted online may focus on currently adoptable pets and not all found pets are put up for adoption.

Pictures may be found at the Animal Shelter’s main website or webpages for multiple shelters like or adopt a pet sites. However, not every shelter is included on one or both sites. Some facilities may only post photographs on their shelter’s own site.

For example, there are some shelters in the DC Metro Area that are only on and there are others that are only on the website. There are also additional pets that may get posted to a shelter’s main website before they may be posted on one of the other two. If you lose a pet in the DC Metro Area, you have multiple websites to check. However, it is important to visit facilities in person. Do not assume that the photos represent all animals at the shelter.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: Timing is Important

Animal Shelters give lost pets a certain amount of time for their owners to find them before they become adoptable, typically just 5 to 7 days after arriving. By the time the dog, cat, or other animal’s picture is posted, he or she may have been at the shelter for some time. If an animal is considered unadoptable, the animal’s picture may not be posted online.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: Pictures not Posted Online

There are some pets who enter the shelter who will not have their photos online. Why? After becoming lost, a pet may have been killed. This includes pets who are hit by cars. However, shelters do keep records of the bodies they collect.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: Animal Shelter Hours

Animal Shelters have adoption days when they are open to the public at certain hours. Some are also open additional hours for people to check for lost pets. Some are even open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Be sure to let the shelter know you are there to look for your lost pet as recently found pets may be held in a different section from the adoptable animals.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: What do Animal Shelters do when they bring in a new pet?

When a new pet comes in, one that a member of the public brings in, one that the employees found wandering the streets, or a pet that has been killed, they will check for identification. They will look for ID tags and if they have a microchip scanner, scan for a microchip. However, if the microchip information isn’t up to date, they won’t be able to contact you.

Even if your furry friend was wearing an ID, the ID tags may have been lost or removed by the time he or she comes in to the shelter. The shelter will also check their lost reports for a match, which leads to the next, and maybe the most important tip.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: File a Lost Pet Report

What one thing should you make sure you do to find a lost dog, cat, or other animal? File a lost pet report. These reports can contain information such as a description of the pet, photos, and owner’s contact info. They also can contain the area where your friend went missing from which may be different from your home address.

If a pet comes in without ID, they may use the location where the pet was found to determine if an animal could be a certain pet. However, an animal that has been stolen or who was temporarily taken in by another owner may have traveled some distance. In this case, a microchip may save the pet’s life by confirming identity, if the contact information is up to date.

If you want the shelter to contact you about your lost pet, be sure to file a lost report at shelters in your area and where the pet was lost. In addition, you can also post lost pet ads online, put up flyers in pet stores, at vet offices, the newspaper, and more.

Tips to Find a Lost Pet: Bird Bands

Make sure you know your bird’s leg band number. Buying a bird or adopting a bird with a band does not automatically link your contact info with the number. Like cat or dog tag ID, some birds have been know to remove or break off bands. Still, if you lost a bird and the bird was wearing a band, include the leg band number in your lost bird report to help find a pet bird.

These are things you should know about Animal Shelters when trying to find a lost dog or cat or other animal in this ac article. The internet offers great resources for finding a lost pet, but there are some things you should know. Do not expect to find a lost pet just by checking the photos posted online. Do not wait for the shelter to contact you even if your lost cat, dog, bird, or other pet was wearing ID. Because of the high volume of incoming animals and short time a shelter can hold a pet due to limited space, do not wait to start looking or file the lost report.

Do visit shelters in person. Do let them know you’re looking for your missing pet. Do file a lost report. Do start your search early.

Many dog or cat owners lose time thinking their pet will return after finding their own way home. Many pet owners lose time waiting for a shelter to contact them. It’s up to you to keep checking back at Animal Shelters in person, every 5 to 7 days, to find your lost pets and bring them home safe.

Sources & Resources:
Talking to workers at kill and no-kill animal shelters

More by this Contributor:
Myths of No-kill Animal Shelters
The Animal Shelter’s Pet Adoption Contract Agreement
Puppies and Pet Store Rip-Offs: Don’t Let This Happen to You
Free or Low Cost Spay or Neuter Services for Dogs and Cats in the DC Metro Area