Lost & Found Pets

Procedures for lost or found animals

Lost your pet?

Here’s how to get them back.

If your pet becomes lost, don’t give up hope. Social media and old fashioned footwork are vital tools to help them find their way back to you. Be sure to microchip your animal beforehand to increase your chances of recovery.


What to do when you’ve lost your pet 


Include a large photo of the pet and the word “LOST,” followed by your contact number. Print it on bright fluorescent colored paper that will stand out- you want people to see your notice and most will be driving by in car, so you have only a few moments to make an impact. Use large bold text that is easily seen. Post flyers all around where the pet was lost or last seen. If offering a reward be cautious, some will prey on a grieving owner to get hold of the money. The claimant could even be the person who stole your pet. Be smart. Be vigilant. Meet them in a public place and bring someone with you.  

Social media

Time is of the essence. Post online and check back often. Post locally, but don’t forget that pets can be picked up by travelers and truckers and wind up in another state.  Here are suggested listings:

Facebook Groups
Postings are approved by the page administrator within an hour of submission. You can also search Facebook for missing pets in your location. There are pages for cats, dogs, cities, counties and states. Check them all.

Lost Dogs of AZ



Send out a notice for your lost pet using Twitter.

Other Internet sites




Pet specific

PetHarbor.com (Used by both rescue groups and Maricopa County Animal Care & Control)


Footwork- Local shelters & animal control

You must check these location each day. Pets without identification that are turned into Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) are placed on a 72 hour “stray hold” prior to evaluating, then they are made available to rescues and/or put up for adoption to the public.  Animals fast become highly stressed in shelter environments, resulting in a well behaved pet exhibiting abnormal defensive behavior (including aggression), which can put it at risk for being labeled non-adoptable and euthanasia.  

Bring proof of ownership (photos, license, rabies, spay or neuter certificate, adoption records). 


Arizona Humane Society    9226 N 13th Ave., Phoenix
Also visit the AZ Humane Society’s Second Chance Animal Hospital. 

East Side Animal Care and Control    2360 W 8th St., Mesa
West Side Animal Care and Control   2500 S 27th Avenue, Phoenix


Drones can cover ground and see where people cannot and are of particular value if your pet is lost in a mountainous or desert area.  

Animal Intuitives

Some people turn to animal intuitives to aid in their search. A good one can offer valuable insight and will also teach you techniques to use on your own. Ask around for referrals and their success rate, find out if others had promising results.  Fees will vary, but some may provide this service at no cost to help a lost pet get home. There is no certification or performance standard for this service; you will have to rely on your own intuition alongside references to avoid scams or those who mean well but waste precious time.


Also called pet detectives and missing animal response technician. Pet trackers use a trained dog to help find your pet, relying on their sense of smell and other heightened factors. Make sure they are qualified; ask for references, explore online ratings to avoid scams.

What to do at your home

Your pet may return, but it could take place when you are not home or sleeping. Put out something with your scent or their favorite toy or bed to attract them home. If you put out food, use something with a strong scent. If you use a trap to ensnare and retain them, beware- another animal could wind up in your trap. You can open the garage door partially

Other considerations

It’s possible your pet could have been picked up by an out-of-state traveler or a trucker and wind up in another state.   Collars get lost and can be removed, but if microchipped, you have a better chance of getting your pet back.

Your pet could have been rescued by a new owner, unwilling to relinquish. Ask around the neighborhood if anyone has a new pet.

Cats and dogs have different behaviors. A cat is more likely to rush off and get spooked if you run to it calling its name, while a dog will be more apt to come. Read up on roaming patterns and traits for tips to help you find your lost best friend.

Finding a Lost Pet

What to do when you find a lost stray

Who to contact

Assume that the found pet belongs to someone. Check with your neighbors. Put up flyers with the pets photo near where the pet was found and in a larger radius as animals can travel several miles quickly, especially when lost and trying to find their way back home.

Scan for a microchip right away. Take the lost pet to yours or the nearest vet clinic or Petsmart or Petco. Many pets are microchipped so a brief scan can reveal an owner. If the chip information is outdated, ask the staff to obtain the implant information when calling the microchip company. Chips are implanted by rescues and vet clinics and the extra research can turn up where the chip was originally inserted, which could lead you to the owner.

Post your found pet info online, see above social media resources for links.

Contact rescues for help, particularly the specialty breeds for that animal.

Keep the pet contained in your home or with someone who can help while you search. Give it food and water. Avoid contact with your pets until a safe and proper introduction can take place. Your pets may not be accommodating, further stressing the animal and causing it to try to escape again.


What to do when someone claims to be pet owner

If you get a call from someone claiming to be the owner, be sure that proof of ownership is presented (paperwork, photos on phone are the best examples. Dog fighting groups send out trustworthy looking representatives (a girlfriend and child) to gain control of animals to be used as bait  and will scour ads and online postings to find their victims. Others will pretend to be the owner then  sell the animal to a medical research lab. Abusers also look for their prey anywhere they can. You are entrusted with ensuring the pet is safe, please act responsibly on its behalf.

If you have doubts about a person stating they are the owner take your time. If when the time comes to turn over the pet, pay attention to how the animal responds to the individual. Trust your instincts. The pet may have run for good reason. Sadly, not everyone is a responsible person; some pets are beaten, abused, and neglected and will escape at first chance. In these situations seek advice; turning the pet over to a rescue will ensure its safety.