Despite our best intentions, and often through no fault of our own, pets sometimes go missing. Be it a gate or hutch door accidently left open, a dog suddenly spooked on a walk, or a cat whose night on the tiles took him straying a little too far. There’s nothing more terrifying, than knowing that your much loved pet is out and about, without you to look after his/her welfare!
Don’t despair! Recent years have seen a great increase in the avenues available for individuals to seek assistance tracing a lost pet. Whilst we aren’t able to provide any guarantees, what we can do is point you in the right direction, suggest lots of little things that you can do to help yourself, and most importantly offer to everyone, this one vital piece of advice… DON’T GIVE UP!
Have a read through the sections below for tips and suggestions to help you feel confident you have done everything you can to be reunited with your missing pet!
With all of our good wishes and the very best of luck…
What to do if your DOG has gone missing!
One of the worst things that can happen to a devoted dog lover, is for their precious friend to go missing.
If you are unlucky enough to lose your dog there is a very good chance of being reunited with him/her if you do all of the things below.
Phone all the dog wardens in your area. If a dog is found straying they will often be called to pick up the dog and they keep records of any that they find. They are legally responsible for stray dogs, and have to keep them for 7 days before rehoming them, passing them on to rescue centres, or possibly even euthanizing them. Don’t just call once, do it daily until your pet is found. Remember that dogs can cover a great distance if they are in a new area, panicked, or frightened, so please don’t just contact your nearest warden. Dog warden contact numbers for Merseyside are –
Sefton dog warden 0845 140 0845, out of hours 0151 374 2174
Wirral dog warden 0151 647 8799
Liverpool dog warden 0151 233 3001, out of hours 0151 374 2174
Knowsley dog warden 0151 443 2455, out of hours 0151 374 2174
St Helens dog warden 01744 45 6789
Dog Warden details for the rest of UK can be found here…
The Animal Wardens hold the contract for managing stray dogs in the Merseyside area. Their website gives you more information and contact details.
Merseyside Dogs Home take in the majority of strays from the Merseyside area. Contact them with details of your lost dog.
Always contact your local authority as well as the dog warden. These departments work closely together but with such a heavy work load mistakes can happen, and occasionally details can slip through the net.
Contact rescue centres in your surrounding areas. Don’t just call the nearest ones, you should also try ones further afield. Local rescue centres often have contact numbers for other centres but this Dogpages link provides a good starting point for local rescues –
If your dog is a pedigree it is worth trying the local breeders. The Kennel Club will be able to help find your local breeders and breed rescue groups.
The Kennel Club 0870 6066750
Contact Dog Lost at https://www.doglost.co.uk/ they will make a poster for you and the area coordinator will be able to help. They are a nationwide organization and are very experienced.
There are now many national organisations that can help log and display your lost dog’s details. The following provide this service, some offer a free service and others ask a fee.
Tell the police and log your details with them.
Phone local vets. Sometimes members of the public will take stray dogs to their local vets themselves rather than wait for a dog warden.
It is important to put posters up everywhere – parks, streets, shops, vets, police stations, at rescues. The more posters the better. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are both effective and free, and a great way to spread the word about your lost dog fast.
Please remember that the best, cheapest and most convenient way of ensuring your pet is traceable is to have it micro-chipped. If a stray dog is taken to any vet, rescue centre, local authority or pound it will immediately be scanned to see if it is micro-chipped. If your dog is chipped then you will be contacted immediately and reunited with your canine friend. Micro-chipping only works if the contact details for the microchip are correct and up to date. It is your responsibility to make sure the microchip company has your up to date details. It is now a legal requirement that all dogs are micro-chipped.
It is also worth bearing in mind that neutering your dog can help prevent them straying altogether. A dogs out of control hormone levels can make them feel desperate, and they’ll do almost anything to get out and wander.
On a practical level you should walk your usual dog walks, just in case your dog is hanging around an area he/she already knows. Look around the local area, and if you have moved house recently check your former address – dogs are clever enough to find their way back to their old house. Always think about places where your dog might be trapped – garages, work sites, neglected buildings, and even neighbours houses.
Most importantly, don’t give up! It is not unheard of for a dog to be missing many weeks before being found.
If your dog has been sighted you will need to update your poster/flyers. If (and hopefully when) your dog is found please let people and places keeping an eye out know.
What to do if your CAT has gone missing!
To be absolutely sure your cat is really missing check the house thoroughly; cats have an amazing ability to hide in the smallest of spaces, check the loft, in the washing machine/tumble dryer, under beds, toy boxes, behind the fridge, in cupboards and draws etc. Cats also like to get into cars and fall asleep. Check your vehicles and think if any delivery vehicles have been nearby.
Go outside and look for the cat and walk around the local area. Don’t call your cat on your way out – as the cat may hear you and follow you and get further away from home. Only call on your way back to the house. Check all roads, just in case there has been an accident.
If a cat is out of its’ comfort zone, as far as area is concerned, it will hide and probably won’t come to you even if it hears you. Hopefully it will start to follow you home though.
If there is still no sign of your cat then call the local animal shelters, vets, and local authority street cleaning department. They will keep records of when a cat is found after a road traffic accident. Don’t just phone once, keep in regular contact until your pet is found. The following sites list many of the rescues in the Northwest.
Start knocking on doors and asking all the neighbours to check their gardens, garages, sheds.
Prepare a small flyer or poster, preferably with a photo on, and a full description of your cat and your contact details. Distribute this to all neighbours, at least 2 / 3 streets away in each direction. It is important to put posters up everywhere – parks, streets, shops, vets, police stations, at rescues. The more posters the better. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are both effective and free, and a great way to spread the word about your lost cat fast. A ‘poster pack’ can be found at this link https://www.cats.org.uk/lost-cat.
The more people you ask the more eyes are looking. Local children are an invaluable source, get them on your side. They may want to help you hand flyers out.
There are national organizations which offer help and advice, and provide a service where you can advertise your lost cat. These include –
Put an advert in local press, or see if you can get them to do a story, try the local radio too.
Cats are often most active at night so go to the bottom of your garden late at night and LISTEN. It is surprising how many cats are found this way, locked in sheds and garages etc. Call and wait, if the cat is within hearing distance you will hopefully hear it calling for help. Try leaving your cats favourite bedding and toys outside. Cats have a very strong sense of smell so this might help them find their way home.
Go out when it is quite late at night, not alone, and take a box of cat biscuits, remember… don’t call for your cat on your way out, only on your way home. Late at night it is usually quiet so there is a better chance of your cat hearing your calls, and you hearing his/her calls back.
Take a pillow case with you just in case you find him/her, it can act as an emergency carrier to get home quickly.
Cats sometimes have second homes that you don’t know about and will suddenly appear and wonder what all the fuss is about. You can never assume a cat will just reappear though. Cats get lost every day, once out of their area; they are lost, possibly vulnerable and hungry.
Please remember that the best, cheapest and most convenient way of ensuring your pet is traceable is to have it micro chipped. When a stray cat is found and taken to any rescue/vet/local authority it will be scanned to see if it is micro chipped. If your cat is micro chipped then you will be contacted immediately and reunited with your feline friend. Micro chipping only works if the contact details for the micro-chip are correct and up to date. It is your responsibility to make sure the micro-chip company has your up to date details.
You should also ensure he/she wears a safety collar with an ID tag on it. Cats appear in peoples’ gardens and often people assume they are a stray, and will keep them or take them to a rescue. If your cat is identifiable you will be reunited quickly. You should also make sure your cat is neutered, toms will travel for miles and queens will go out “calling” to mate (as young as 6 months old). There are enough unwanted cats in this world as we at Freshfields and all other charities can confirm all too easily.
Most important – NEVER give up.
If your cat has been sighted you will need to update your poster/flyers. If (and hopefully when) your cat is found please let people and places keeping an eye out know.
What to do if your RABBIT has gone missing!
However – that doesn’t mean you should do nothing. There are plenty of the things you would do for a cat or a dog that apply equally to a rabbit, or indeed any other small animal (ferrets and guinea pigs for instance).
Start knocking on doors and asking all the neighbours to check their gardens, garages, sheds.
Leave your gates open so your rabbit has easy access back to his/her home.
Prepare a small flyer or poster, preferably with a photo on, and a full description of your rabbit and your contact details. Distribute this to all neighbours, at least 2 / 3 streets away in each direction. It is important to put posters up everywhere – parks, streets, shops, vets, police stations, at rescues. The more posters the better. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are both effective and free, and a great way to spread the word about your lost rabbit fast. The following is a link to help you create a poster –
The more people you ask the more eyes are looking. Local children are an invaluable source, get them on your side. They may want to help hand flyers out.
Contact local rescue centres, both independent and the RSPCA, it’s amazing how many people will contact a rescue centre, if they find themselves custodian to a small animal they really don’t want to have to hang on to for too long. Don’t just make contact once, do so regularly until your rabbit is found. The following links list rabbit rescues in the Northwest, but remember to also try local rescue centres which look after rabbits along with other animals –
There are a few national organisations which will log and display your lost rabbit’s details –
Please remember that the best, cheapest and most convenient way of ensuring your pet is traceable is to have it micro-chipped. If a stray rabbit is taken to any vet or rescue centre it will immediately scanned to see if it is micro chipped. If your rabbit is chipped then you will be contacted immediately and reunited with your furry friend. Micro chipping only works if the contact details for the microchip are correct and up to date. It is your responsibility to make sure the microchip company has your up to date details.
Your small animal is just as important as a dog or a cat, and just as dependent upon you to be responsible for it, so don’t give up and certainly don’t ‘not bother’ trying to find them if they do go missing!
If your rabbit has been sighted you will need to update your poster/flyers. If (and hopefully when) your rabbit is found please let people and places keeping an eye out know.
A bit about Microchips…
Ensuring your pet cat, dog, rabbit and even ferret is microchipped means, that if your pet becomes lost, you are far more likely to be reunited! Microchipping for dogs is now mandatory throughout England and Wales and failing to microchip your dog may result in a fine.
What is a microchip? How does it work?
A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification. The chip itself is very small – about the size of a grain of rice – and is implanted subcutaneously (just under the skin) between the shoulder blades at the back of your pet’s neck. Each chip has a unique number that is detected using a microchip scanner. The microchip number is recorded on a microchip database registry with details about the animal and owner. Pet owners need to ensure their contact details are recorded on the database against their pet’s microchip number. Should your pet stray or become lost, vets, animal shelters and local councils can scan your pet for a microchip and contact you via the database.
It is vital that you keep your contact details up to date if you move house or change your phone number so that you remain contactable in the event of your pet becoming lost or straying.
If a pet is transferred to a new owner, the new owner must ensure their contact details are recorded on the database.
Is microchipping painful?
Microchipping is a quick (only takes a few seconds), safe and simple procedure and causes little discomfort. Some puppies and kittens may flinch or yelp as the chip is implanted, however the pain is minimal and short-lived and most animals will forget about it very quickly. Microchipping is very important for re-uniting lost pets with their owners. Should your pet go missing you are far more likely to be reunited if he or she is microchipped. The benefits of microchipping in terms of identifying a lost animal and reuniting them with their owner far outweigh any minimal, momentary discomfort.