Lost Pet

What to Do if You Lose Your Pet

Getting the word out early is the key to getting your dog or cat back safely. Don't assume your pet will return on his own in a few hours. Don't wait around to see if he'll find his way home. As soon as you are aware that your pet is missing, get the word out! Remember, have good, clear photos on hand. Always make sure your dogs and cats are wearing a visible collar with identification tags.


Make posters and lots of them and distribute them in the immediate area. Hang them in convenience stores and supermarkets. Keep it simple: "Lost Dog (or cat)" should be at the top in large, easy to read (even from a moving vehicle) in bold letters. Then include a brief description or breed type: "Beige, wire-haired terrier" or "Striped grey and black short-haired cat". Don't assume that people will know a particular breed, so always include a description.

Fax a copy of your poster to the Animal Shelter. The fax number is 856-881-0538.


Include the animal's name. It may make it easier for someone to call your pet over and capture him, and it also makes your pet into a valued member of your family, and not just another lost animal statistic. Offer a reward, don't state how much in the ad, and include your telephone number in large numbers at the bottom of the poster. Make sure you date the poster.

Index Cards

Make dozens of index cards with the same information as above and go to every home, in every direction from the site where your pet disappeared, and give a card, or stick a card under doors or windshields. Stop and speak with every person you encounter - the more people who know about your lost pet, the more likely the one person who spots him will call you. Your pet may be frightened, ask people to please check their barns and sheds, especially at night.

Newspaper Ad

Place a "Lost" ad in your local newspaper the very first morning your pet is gone. These ads are usually free.

Get The Word Out

The more people that know you have a lost pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road or in their backyard. Get out and call your pet by name. Enlist family and friends to canvas the neighborhood, in all directions, on the roads, and as the crow flies. Don't try to predict where your pet could or wouldn't have gone - you never know. The best time to call for your pet is at night, and at dawn. 

If you are calling from your car, drive slowly, roll down all windows, stop and turn your vehicle off frequently to listen.

Call Your Neighbors Personally

Call veterinary clinics including emergency veterinary hospitals outside your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Call all animal shelters and animal control officers, all local police and state troopers, all local kennels, the highway department, dog training clubs, grooming shops, get the word out! Visit all local dog pounds and animal shelters. Don't rely on their information, go through, and look at all dogs and cats, daily.

Don't Give Up

Dogs and cats often wander far away and do things you wouldn't predict they would do. Try everything, look everywhere, tell everyone. You'd be surprised how many people will be supportive, will get out and help you look, will offer words of encouragement and hope, will suggest places to look that other stray animals have gone. Again, don't give up! Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away - don't wait a few hours "to see if he comes home on his own" - you need those early hours to put up posters and give out cards.

Frightened Pets

Even the friendliest and the most social pet may quickly become terrified and wild. Your own friendly pet, when lost, may hide from people, run away if he sees a person, he may even run away from you. Don't chase after a lost pet - they are much faster than we are and you'll only scare them more. Instead, sit on the ground; talk in normal tones, repeating his name and familiar phrases over and over again. A frightened animal will usually stick around and after a few minutes or hours, come closer and closer.

Humane Live Trap

In rare cases, you may need to rent or purchase a Humane Live trap and set it to capture a terrified lost pet. Local animal shelters often rent or loan these and will have an appropriate size for a dog or a cat.

Searching for a Pet

This list may come in handy one day! Animal control services in Gloucester County is provided by the following agency:

  • Gloucester County Animal Shelter
    Phone: 856-881-2828

Gloucester County Animal Shelter accepts animals from all townships within Gloucester County. Additional agencies include:

  • Clayton
  • Deptford
  • East Greenwich
  • Elk
  • Franklin
  • Glassboro
  • Greenwich
  • Harrison
  • Logan
  • Mantua
  • Monroe
  • National Park
  • Newfield
  • Paulsboro
  • Pitman
  • South Harrison
  • Swedesboro
  • Washington
  • Wenonah
  • West Deptford
  • Westville
  • Woodbury
  • Woodbury Heights
  • Woolwich

Additional Resources

View a list of helpful animal resources.

Thank You

Thanks to Sue Sternberg, Rondout Valley Kennels Inc. Call 914-687-7619 for this information.