Most Lost Pets Are Found Close to Home

Finding Lost Pets

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to results of an ASPCA study, the most important steps to take if your pet is lost are to start searching your neighborhood immediately, put up missing posters, use Internet resources, and check your local shelter from the first day your dog or cat goes missing.

By Dr. Becker

Between September and November 2010, the ASPCA interviewed over 1,000 pet owners to investigate how lost pets are located and returned home. The study was published in the June 2012 issue of the journal Animals.1

How Lost Pets Were Recovered

The most important steps in finding a lost pet include searching immediately, searching the local area/neighborhood visually, as well as putting up posters and using Internet resources. Checking local shelters from the first day the pet goes missing is also important.

Of the pet-owning families surveyed, 15 percent had lost a dog or cat in the past five years. Eighty-five percent of those pets were recovered, including 74 percent of lost cats and 93 percent of lost dogs.

Of the recovered dogs:

  • 49 percent were found by owners searching their neighborhoods
  • 15 percent were found thanks to the presence of either an ID tag or a microchip
  • 6 percent were found at a shelter

As for the lost cats:

  • 59 percent returned home on their own
  • 30 percent were found by owners searching their neighborhoods
  • 2 percent were found at a shelter

According to Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the ASPCA:

“This research tells us that there is a possibility that a significant percentage of the stray dogs and cats in the shelters around the country do not have someone looking for them. It also highlights the importance of ID tags and other forms of identification to ensure the quick return of lost pets.”