Process of Finding a Lost Pet


Immediately contact your local municipal shelters and provide your pet's name, age, color, breed, and sex. It is HIGHLY recommended that you submit a photo of your pet to the shelter as many breeds can be easily confused with others.

If your pet is microchipped, contact the microchip company and report your pet as missing. You can find the company's phone number at


Neighbor Alert

Contact your neighbors and let them know your pet has gotten loose.  Show them a picture, if you do not have any printed yet.  If your dog just got loose, your neighbors will be the best resource to spot your dog.

Conduct an Intersection Alert

To conduct a successful intersection alert, you will

  1. Coordinate and schedule a group of volunteers, family, and friends to help you for several hours.
  2. Make four (4) to ten (10) large neon signs to hang and hundreds of handouts to distribute.
  3. Choose an intersection location and time based on local traffic and based on the circumstances of the dog’s disappearance.
  4. Conduct your intersection alert in a safe manner, reaching the maximum number of people while managing risk.


Social Media

Post your pet's information, including the location they are missing from, on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and NextDoor. Facebook pages, such as Chasing Tails Pet Patrol and Lost/Found in South Carolina, have a wide reach and numerous followers to help your pet find their way back home.


Giant, neon posters attract the most attention.  You can buy these at local office supply stores, such as Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, and Target.  Using LARGE black letters for the neon poster boards will ensure the sign can be viewed due to the contrast of colors.  You should include a picture of your dog, contact information, last seen information, and any distinguishing marks.  If your dog is scared of people, ensure your signs say "Do not approach. Call if seen."  This will help decrease the chances of your dog running further.

Local Shelter Check

Visit your local municipal shelters and ask to see their intakes since your pet went missing.

The Search

Don't Call Your Dog, Sing to your Dog!

Sounds crazy, right? When a dog is lost and scared, yelling their name will not help them come to you.  Your dog has been exposed to new noises, scents, scenery, and an unfamiliar environment.  If you have others help with the search, your dog ha heard numerous voices say their name, but none that probably sound familiar.  You are obviously worried, stressed, and it shows in your voice.  The stress in your voice can scare your dog further away or may cause them to not recognize your voice. Singing not only changes your voice to a more positive tone, but it also distinguishes your voice from others.  This can help your dog recognize your voice and may come to you.

You see your dog, now what?

If you see your dog, sit down immediately and looking toward the ground.  Do not run to them.  Do not yell their name.  They have just been on a journey without you and they are probably scared.   Sitting on the ground presents you in a non-threatening, submissive position and shows the dog that they can approach you.  Carry a bag of potato chips and a bag of smelly-enticing treats for your dog ( chopped up hot dogs or liver are both good choices).  Sit on the ground and eat the potato chips or another loudly-opening package and do not make eye-contact with your dog.  You can drop small pieces of the dog-friendly treat you brought with you on the ground.  This is to attract your dog, remove them from a flight-or-fight response and bring them to you.


You can place your pet's litterbox, favorite blanket, or bed outside your home and keep an eye on it. A familiar smell will help your pet find their way back home.

The Follow-up

Now that you have found your lost pet, it is time to take preventative measures to ensure it does not happen again

Method of Escape

Be sure to assess how your dog got out and make any alterations needed to prevent your dog from escaping.  For example, dogs that dig many need a dig guard along the fence line.  Ensure all household members are educated on closing exterior doors and ensuring animal family members are safe and secure.

Cause of Running Away

We cannot ask our dogs why they ran from home and can only take educated guesses based on our dogs behavior and our experience with them.  Dogs run from their  homes for many reasons. The best action to take is preventative and ensure your dog does not escape again.

Looking for a mate

The best preventative action for this reason for escape is spay and neuter your pets.

Boredom, Adventure, Love of Running

According to petMD, dogs need approximately thirty minutes to two hours of exercise per day. Regularly exercising your pet and providing them with stimulating toys will decrease their desire to escape.