(April 21, 2023)
Houston SPCA reunites hundreds of lost pets with their owners every year thanks to microchips and other lost pet resources.
It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare, but knowing what to do before and in the event of a missing pet emergency can make all the difference.
Always be prepared
Always be ready in the event that your pet is lost to give them their best chance at being found. The last thing you want to be worried about when searching for a missing pet is updating their microchip information.
Equip your pet with the following, especially when evacuating from a natural disaster or leaving for a trip.
- A microchip. If they were adopted from Houston SPCA, make sure their microchip is registered through HomeAgain with your current contact information. If your pet doesn’t have one yet, make an appointment with your family veterinarian. They’re inexpensive and easy to place.
- Collar with ID tags. A microchip is always available to be scanned in the event your pet’s collar falls off, but having a tag with your contact information is a great first defense. Your pet can be quickly identified as an owned animal from a distance with your phone number easily accessible.
My pet is lost – what do I do now?
The worst has happened, your dog got out of the backyard or your cat darted through the door when you weren’t looking. Here are some quick steps you can do right away and in the days to come to reclaim your missing pet.
- Contact your local Animal Protection and Animal Control Agencies immediately. Please reference the Animal Control Agencies in and surrounding the Houston area listed here.
- Contact your pet’s microchip company. Let them know your pet is missing right away. Most microchip companies can send out an alert to nearby veterinary clinics and shelters.
- File lost pet reports. Give a detailed physical description and location where the pet was lost when submitting reports online or via phone. It is always best to view the animals in person if that option is available since photos aren’t always clear.
- Make flyers using a clear photograph and detailed description of your pet for placement in all locations of inquiry. Veterinary offices where finders may take pets to be scanned are a great place to start in addition to animal shelters and around the neighborhood your pet was lost in.
- Update your voicemail to make sure callers hear a message with details about your pet’s situation. Ensure you have access to your voicemail if someone leaves you a message regarding your pet!
- For a cat, set a humane cat trap with some food inside. If possible, place your cat’s bed or litterbox nearby or inside the trap. A frightened cat’s instinct is to hide in silence. Most “lost” cats tend to stay close to home. Traps can be rented from your local animal control agency.
- Use social media to post pictures and details of your lost pet. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, NextDoor App, etc. Be sure to always list their breed and as many distinguishing characteristics as possible, like coat color and size. Finders may search online for “lost Shih-Tzu” for example, and you’ll want them to come across your posts. Share in as many groups as possible and use relevant local hashtags.
- Keep tabs on the list of animals under stray hold at local animal control agencies. Animals are held for three days and six days if a microchip is found. Be sure to constantly be checking if your pet has been taken in.
Prevention is key
The best way to protect your pet is to prevent loss in the first place. Utilize the following tips to ensure you never have to look for a missing pet.
- Always leash your dog when in an unsecured area or on a walk.
- Inspect fenced areas in your backyard for loose boards or holes your pet can crawl through. Ensure any gates are always closed.
- If you have an escape artist on your hands, be sure to keep an eye on their digging or jumping habits when outside for bathroom breaks.
- Secure your pets on holidays like New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July if they’re prone to being spooked or stressed by loud noises. A previously mellow pet might bolt through the door opening for guests or jump the fence if left unattended outdoors. Do not bring pets to outdoor gatherings.
If your pet is lost, reference our Lost Pets Page for help in locating your pet at Houston SPCA and the surrounding area.