How to Find a Lost Pet – A Checklist


  • How to find a lost pet checklistSearch your property thoroughly. Look in places where it seems impossible that your pet would be. Look both outside and inside of your house. Cats especially can get into tiny spaces.  
  • If you have recently moved, search your old neighborhood, house, and speak to neighbors. 
  • Don’t forget to look up. Cats climb trees.
  • Call to your pet especially at quiet times.
  • Alert everyone you see of your lost pet and give them your phone number.  Do not forget to tell children about your lost pet. Children play outside and explore areas that adults don’t.
  • Knock on all neighbor’s doors and ask them to search their garage, basement, etc. If a neighbor has recently gone out of town, the pet may be in their house because the pet may have slipped in as they were packing their car.
  • Make sounds that your pet associates with home and with food. Do you use a certain voice when calling or praising your pet? Use that voice. Does your pet come running at the sound of a can of food being opened? Carry cans of food with you and open them in different areas of your neighborhood. Bring your pet’s favorite squeaky toy on searches and squeeze it.
  • Leave tasty food and water around your property to attract your pet home. If you have shelter such as a garage, leave food there.
  • If you have lost your cat, spread their cat litter around your property.
  • Leave favorite blankets, beds, toys, etc. in sheltered areas close to your home.

Next Steps:

  • Report your lost pet to local animal shelters and file a lost pet report. Be as thorough and descriptive as possible. The more information they have the better. Multiple recent photographs of your pet are helpful, as pets can look very different in pictures. Scroll down to the end of this article for contact information for area shelters.
  • Check in daily online with your local shelter, and make an in-person visit often. A visit to the shelter every day is best, especially if the lost pet does not have physical characteristics that really distinguish it from all others. There is nothing better than looking yourself.
  • Make a lost pet flyer with a photo and your contact information and distribute it to as many places as possible: around your neighborhood, shelters, local veterinarian offices, kennels, pet stores, groomers, post offices, community billboards, local businesses, etc.  If you do not have the ability to make your own flier, we can make one for you at AHNA. Here is a link where you can make a flyer:
  • Very often businesses will have outdoor cameras that may film your pet at night. If there are businesses close to where your pet went missing, be sure to report your pet missing to them and deliver fliers.
  • Post to Facebook and other social media. Word travels fast on social media and you can often reach thousands of people in a short period of time.
  • Acquire and set humane traps around your property. Make the trap inviting with wet food and comfy blankets or towels.
  • Be sure to check all local lost pet listings for your pet. It may be that someone has found your pet and has made a ‘found pet’ listing. Then, if you do not find your pet, make a lost pet listing.
  • Buy a powerful flashlight to search at night.
  • If you have registered your pet by an ID Tag or Microchip, contact the registering agency and alert them that your pet is missing. Be sure your contact information is up to date.

Here are local sites where you can post a lost pet listing – some of these are free, others require payment:

  1. CraigsList
  2. Lost Pets WNC  (lets you make printable flyers when you post a listing on their site)
  3. Asheville Humane Society
  5. Mountain Xpress
  6. Asheville Citizen Times
  7. REACH

Here are additional websites to help with your search:

  1. How to find a lost pet checklistThe Center for Lost Pets
  2. Fido Finder
  3. Find Toto
  4. Lost My Doggie

Additional things you can do:

  • Mail or email flyers to shelters, pet stores, etc. in nearby counties. Pets can travel long distances.  
  • Contact a company such as who will prepare a mailer and posters for you, and will send the mailer as a post card to 500 - 1,000 homes in your area for a fee.
  • Purchase a wildlife surveillance camera that will film your property at night. Oftentimes, lost pets are afraid and will only come out to scavenge for food at night.

Finally, don’t give up. Lost pets are often found months after they go missing. Continue searching and above all, continue to stay in touch with and visit your local shelter.

Area Animal Welfare Organizations:

  1. Asheville Humane Society   828.761.2001
  2. Brother Wolf Animal Rescue   828.505.3440
  3. Henderson County Animal Services   828.697.4723
  4. Haywood County Animal Shelter   828.456.5338
  5. Friends of Madison County Animals   828.649.9798
  6. Sarge's Animal Rescue Foundation   828.246.9050
  7. Yancey Humane Society   828.682.9510
  8. Foothills Humane Society   828.863.4444
  9. Mitchell County Animal Rescue   828.765.6952
  10. Rutherford County Humane Society   828.286.0222
  11. Jackson County Animal Shelter   828.586.6138
  12. Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society   828.743.5752
  13. Macon County Humane Society   828.524.4588

Additional Resources:

Missing Pet Partnership
How to Catch a Skittish or Shy Dog

Finding Rover