• Please contact us immediately if you think your animal might be at our shelter. Stray animals are typically held for 4-7 days before being placed up for adoption.
  • If you have found an animal: Please take the animal to a vet clinic so their age, sex, and breed can be determined, and so they can be scanned for a microchip. This information is the most crucial in matching a pet to an owner.

Tips for Finding a Lost Animal

The search for your lost pet begins with you!

Please accept the following "tips" for finding your lost animal. Not every tip will be useful for every situation/animal, but please read below and see what might be helpful for you. 

File a lost report with the stray holding facility in your area (for Washtenaw County and Plymouth that would be HSHV). This report should be thorough and accurate. The more details we have on your animal, the easier it will be for us to make matches.

Accuracy in a lost animal report is crucial. A wrong breed or wrong color can lead to a missed match. Please visit one of the following to ensure accurate information is being shared!

Please make sure to include a photo of your animal whenever possible. There should be a photo on any fliers you post, and for HSHV lost reports you can email us a photo. Please include your name and your pet's name, so we can enter the photo you send into the correct report.

Spread the word about your lost pet by posting in other areas as well. The more people who are aware of your lost animal, the better! 

  • Make sure that your neighbors know about your lost animal.
  • Make paper fliers to hang around your neighborhood. Remember that the flier should include the animal's name, age, size, breed, color, a photo, the area where the pet went missing (city, major crossrods, etc.) and contact information for the owner.
  • Contact any veterinary offices nearby. Sometimes people will post found information there or bring the animal in to be looked over or checked for a microchip.
  • Check local gathering places like churches, meeting halls, libraries, laundry mats, and all the local pet stores to see if they have a bulletin board where people place these types of notices.
  • Post on other websites: Craigslist has a lost/found section, and there are many websites dedicated to assisting people in finding their lost pet.

Begin physically looking for your pet as soon as possible. Cats especially can be very good at hiding, and you should not assume that your animal will come to you because they recognize you. If they are nervous or scared, they will most likely remain where they feel safe (out of sight). You should check under bushes, under decks and porches, in garages or sheds, in wood piles, etc.

  • Looking at quiet times of the day (early morning, late evening) is helpful as you are more likely to hear any responses from your animal.
  • Put out items that smell like your animal to try to lure them back. Litter boxes, beds/bedding, or a crate or carrier that they spend time in are good examples of this.
  • Set humane live traps where possible. Make sure you are using a trap large enough for the animal you hope to catch (obviously this is not the best option lor large breed dogs). Use things like tuna or smelly canned cat food as bait. Please make sure to check the trap at least twelve hours, or at the very minimum every 24-hours as required by state law. If you catch an animal other than your own, release it immediately. If your are uncomfortable releasing wildlife caught in the trap you can call HSHV's affordable Humane Wildlife Removal service for assistance at (734) 661-3512. For information on renting a live trap from HSHV, please call our vet clinic at (734) 662-4365.
  • Of course, when and where you should look for your animals will depend a bit on the individual animal.
  • The links found below have excellent, more specific tips on where to search: 
  • The Missing Pet Partnership: Lots of species and behavior specific tips to finding lost pets
  • Lost Dog Search Tips: Lots of general tips on searching for your lost dog
  • Lost Cat Search Tips: Lots of general tips on searching for your lost cat
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All images and photographs are courtesy of HSHV staff and Jeffrey E. Roush of Two Cat Studios.