We know this is a very stressful time. But there is much you can do to recover your loved one as quickly as possible. Let’s get started.
Look everywhere immediately
A common mistake is waiting and assuming your pet will return. Recovery can take time and resources. Enlist help. Stay calm and don’t give up!
Indoor cats that get outside accidentally are usually hiding close by in silence. Please search the immediate area with a good flashlight. Look under decks and other hiding spots. Indoor/outdoor cats or outdoor-only cats have a routine. When they don’t come home something has interrupted their routine. Please expand the search area to include neighboring houses, garages, sheds, etc. Then follow the other tips on this page regarding getting the word out online, making signs and tracking, and luring them back home.
Check the Chatham Sheriff’s Office Animal Resources (shelter) website, Lost and Found area, to see if your pet has been turned in. You may also call them at 919-542-7203.
Depending on your location, contact other area shelters such as Orange County at 919-942-7387, Durham APS at 919-560-0640, Wake County at 919-212-7387, Alamance/Burlington at 336-578-1386, Lee County at 919-776-7446. If the shelter in your location was closed, someone may have taken your pet to another shelter. Visit the shelters to look for your animal as descriptions/photos are not always exact. Keep checking back every three days.
Contact local veterinarian offices to let them know about your lost pet. An easy way to find them is to type “veterinary offices near me” in Google.
Get the Word Out Online
- Go to 24PetConnect, enter your zip code and click on Lost My Pet
- Chatham County NC Lost, Found Adoptable Pets
- Lost and Found Pets of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC
- Lost and Found Pets of the Triangle
- Lost and Found Pets of North Carolina
- Lost and Found Dogs – North Carolina
- Chatham Chatlist You will need to join first. Then post to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Craigslist (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill > Community > Lost and Found)
- Triangle Lost Pets Covers Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Orange, Person, Wake counties
- Pet FBI
- Lost My Doggie
Make Signs and Track
Many people do not use social media. Signs are a great reuniter of pets. Make large neon signs using 5:5:55 rule: 5 words read in 5 seconds at 55 miles per hour. LOST DOG/CAT, PHOTO, PHONE. Post at intersections in a radius of five miles. Give a flyer to your mail carrier. Smaller signs are fine inside neighborhoods, at entries to parks and greenways, and to hand out to people. Here is an online flyer maker for an 8.5 x 11” sign.
LARGE NEON POSTERS are critical to getting the word out! Buy colored poster board and clear shipping tape at local office supply, grocery or dollar stores. If you cannot laminate, put photos and phone numbers in a sheet protector using shipping tape to attach to the board and put the opening facing down to avoid rain getting in. After your pet is found, please remove all posters.
TRACK ALL SIGHTINGS including the spotter’s name and contact info, location, date and time of day, direction of travel. If there are no sightings within 72 hours of your signs going out, consider hiring a professional tracker. BravoK911.com or EPIC Animal Recovery are two reputable, NC-based trackers of dogs, cats and other pets. They will request a scent article: a brush, pet hair, toy or bedding with just that pet’s scent on it. Small items should be in a Ziploc bag and put in the freezer to preserve the scent. Beds should be in a garbage bag.
Lure Them Back Home
Whether you’re trying to lure a cat or dog, a key to success is to use calming signals. Avoid calling to, looking directly at, or approaching a lost pet. Many pets quickly go into survival mode and will not even recognize their owners. Hearing its name called out may be misinterpreted as “uh-oh, I’m in trouble and better hide.” Also, sound may travel in strange ways and calling out your pet’s name may draw your pet farther away from home. Use your eyes and ears. Take a squeaky toy, crinkly bag, or can of treats to rattle and get attention. Take binoculars. If you see your pet, STOP, DROP and wait for your pet to see you. Lure with hot or smelly food. DO NOT CHASE! Check out this helpful video.
Dogs: Start scent luring at the point of escape. Grill bacon, hot dogs, or sausage outside. Or set up a crockpot outside with BBQ sauce and an inexpensive cut of meat. Save the meats in case you need to humanely trap later. Dogs will travel further from home than you expect. Senior dogs tend to travel downhill and toward water. Check and continue to recheck streams and ponds in the area. Watch this video and refer to this chart.