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Lost and Found

Lost & Found

(updated October 30,2012)


Help! My cat got out and he's lost!

First of all, don't panic! He will sense your fear, and may stay gone longer. Even if you just moved, and he hasn't had a chance to get used to the new place, there is still hope!

Since we are primarily a cat group, the information on this page is written for cat owners. But most of it is also applicable to dogs. If you've lost a pet, we hope that you find this information helpful.

Remember, the most important thing is to remain calm. Even if you just moved, and he hasn't had a chance to get used to the new place, there is still hope!

Your cat will associate your feelings and emotions with you, so if you are afraid, he will feel that, and may stay gone longer. He may interpret this to mean that you are the one he should fear. As hard as it is, change your attitude, change the way you're looking at this. Don't think about the danger. Push those thoughts out, there is no room for them now.

Allow yourself to only have thoughts of when your cat is back with you, your relief, the reunion between you, your cat safely inside, eating in his own place, then curling up in his favorite spot, purring and kneading in your lap. Envision this. If it helps, close your eyes, breathe three deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth, all the while imagining your cat interacting with you in his favorite ways. Envision it. Feel it. Perhaps you'll feel him brush against you, smell him, hear his voice. You're overjoyed! Your cat will feel this emotion from you, and will not be afraid. He will want to return so that he can experience this joy too - with you.

Congratulations! You've just performed a psychic act of animal communication. Continue doing this, remain calm, and believe. Don't give any energy or any of your time to fear or bad thoughts. Only give power to those thoughts of your pet being safely inside your home with you.

Next, notify EVERYONE.

If your pet was adopted, contact the group from whom she was adopted, in case she's returned to them.

If your pet is microchipped, contact the chip manufacturer's lost and found service immediately.

Create lost flyers with a big picture of your pet (color is best), and your phone number. Templates can be found on some of the shelter sites and Lost & Found sites listed below. Hang the flyers everywhere, and talk to everyone. Contact all the vets in the area. Put the flyers up on community mailboxes, entrances and exits to schools. Put them as many places as you can, at least two miles in every direction. Lot of eyes seeing her picture will be a big help. Talk to everyone: Mailman, UPS driver, school bus driver, crossing guard, meter maid, lawn services, Heating/Air repairmen, anyone you see in the area on a regular basis, including school kids and neighbors.

Walk the neighborhood, take your dog, or other cat.

Please check the shelters at least every other day. They will only hold strays for 3 days. Put your flyers at each shelter (listed below).

Leave her favorite food and water outside, making sure you freshen them often.

You MUST get scents outside for your cat, make a path leading home. Cats have incredible senses of smell, and can smell their personal items 3 miles away or more. If you can, leave the garage door open about 6", with her favorite smelly food inside (tuna in oil, salmon, freshly cooked chicken, whatever it is SHE likes!). Do this by each door to the house, also. Put something she likes to lie in, a cat bed, a favorite rug or blanket, at each of these places as well. If there's a carrier she doesn't associate negatively with trips to the vet, place it outside too. If she has a cat tree, scratching post, favorite toy, put some of those outside also. Anything she would have rubbed her face or paws on.

On each of the items above, place articles of your clothing, or shoes or caps, or items belonging to others in the house who she's fond of. They must be worn, not laundered, so they contain your scent. At the end of the day, place those garments outside on her bed/rug. Before you shower, take a towel and rub it all over your body, especially the areas that have strong scents. Be sure to include any areas that she liked to snuggle into or lick, like either side of the armpit. Rub it on the back of your scalp, neck, backs of your knees, lower abdomen, small of back, inner thighs (not groin), under the breasts, feet. The point is to get your scent all over that towel. Do this with a couple of towels, so you can place them at various places outside. Using the same towel(s), rub on other family members who she is fond of. And then rub it on the other cats or dogs that she likes. Make a path with these articles of clothing and towels, leading to each entrance to the house. All the way to the sidewalk, alley, driveway, etc., so she can pick up the scent and follow it home. Put some in a tree or on a clothesline, so the wind can carry the scent. If you have a wall around your property, put some of these items on various places on the tops of the walls. Food, too.

In addition to the garments and the body scents, scatter some pieces of used litter from the litter pan, of hers and the other cats in the house. Include urine and feces. You know how animals recognize each other by sticking their noses under each others' tails? If you have an extra litter pan that has been used and not recently washed, it will have the odor in it as well. Place it outside, with only a few pieces of used litter in it. Again, make paths out of this as well.

If it rains, renew the scents as described above.

Trap if you need to. Some cats are stubborn, and may need to be trapped. If you decide to put out humane traps, place some of the above items in/near each trap, and make a path leading to the traps as well. Cover the traps with only the ends exposed (using a sheet or towel, tuck it under the sides so it doesn't blow away). Put some newspaper or a towel inside, on the bottom, so she doesn't get scared stepping on the metal. Put her favorite really smelly food all the way in the back (tuna in oil works very well, don't bother with tuna in water). Or tie a (cooked) chicken drumstick to the top, at the far back, so it dangles inside. Make a small trail of nibbles of this food leading up to the trap entrance. Renew the food every 4 hours. Never leave the trap unattended, and check it every 2-4 hours. Keep it out of public view.

Most cats will hide during the day, and come out at dusk and dawn to look for food. Be extra diligent about being accessible during those times of day. Be outside, and create the vision described above. Keep your other pets in a closed room, and leave your doors open slightly while you're home, even at night if possible, but please be safe. Have another person in the house with you.

Notify us at alfrescue @ hotmail.com. We'll share your information with a large network of animal rescuers.

Please do not send flyers or attachments, other than web-ready pictures (.jpg, .gif, .png, or .bmp format, not more than 600 pixels wide, typically less than 150 kilobytes in size). Most flyers are too large, and may contain viruses. Send us the text-only information, typed into an email, and attach pictures in the required format and size. Attachments other than pictures as described will not be opened.

Post your lost pet on the Internet Lost and Found sites listed below, and call the services at the top of that list. Check the found postings often.

The websites for the County Animal Care and Control (pound), and Arizona Humane Society are below. Both have additional info about what to do if a pet is lost or found, including flyers you can create from their examples.

Don't give up. Cats sometimes take a few weeks before they let strangers see them, and then awhile longer before humans realize, "That cat over there has been hanging around for several days, I wonder if it's lost."

We know of a cat who wandered home on its own after 60+ days. Keep checking the shelters.

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I found a cat/dog and can't keep it.

All stray pets must be turned into the Animal Care and Control shelter or held by the finder for a minimum of 72 hours. During this time you must make every attempt to locate the owners. If you are unsuccessful in finding the previous owners, and the required hold period has passed, we will help you to find a suitable home. Please read the first few questions in the FAQ, and provide us the required items for posting the pet. Our Lost & Found page has tips and instructions, as well as shelter contacts and Lost & Found web sites.

First, check the pet for ID. If he's wearing a collar, be sure to look for a phone number. Some owners write their contact info on the pet's collar. If the collar has tags, contact the numbers listed on the tags. If it's a County Rabies tag, the phone number has an automated system where you can enter the information and obtain owner contact numbers. If you prefer, you can look it up online. The county shelter information is listed below.

If there is no tag, or the information is outdated, check for a tattoo. This article lists several organizations that tattoo pets.

If neither tag nor tattoo are found, take the pet to any local veterinarian and ask them to scan for a microchip. If a chip is found, the vet can provide you with the chip ID and the contact information for that manufacturer's lost and found database. Call them immediately, any time of the day or night.

Flyers need to be placed around the location the animal was found, for at least a one-mile radius. Templates can be found on some of the shelter sites and Lost & Found sites listed below. While you're hanging your "found" flyers, look for "lost" flyers, or for people walking or driving slowly, looking up and down the street trying to spot their pet. Talk to anyone you see along the way. Ask them if they recognize the pet.

Notify us at alfrescue @ hotmail.com. We'll share the information with a large network of animal rescuers.

Please do not send flyers or attachments, other than web-ready pictures (.jpg, .gif, .png, or .bmp format, not more than 600 pixels wide, typically less than 150 kilobytes in size). Most flyers are too large, and may contain viruses. Send us the text-only information, typed into an email, and attach pictures in the required format and size. Attachments other than pictures as described will not be opened.

Post the pet you found on the Internet Lost and Found sites listed below, and call the services at the top of that list. Check the lost postings often.

The websites for the County Animal Care and Control (pound), and Arizona Humane Society are below. Both have additional information about what to do if a pet is lost or found, including flyers you can create from their examples.

Rehome the animal only after the required hold period has passed. If you are unsuccessful in finding the previous owners, we will help you to find a suitable home or placement for the animal. Please read the first few questions in the FAQ, and provide us the required items for posting the pet.

Beware of unscrupulous callers. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a rescuer, please ask them the name of the group, and ask if they are a no-kill shelter. Ask if they require testing and vaccinations and spay/neuter before adoption. Find out where they're located, whether they have a website, and where they get the animals they place. If they aren't no-kill, or don't test/vaccinate/spay/neuter, avoid them. If they have a website, check it to see if it looks legitimate. If they don't say anything about the overpopulation problem and ending euthanasia, or if they don't have ways you can volunteer and help, or if they don't show successful adoptions, they may be breeders or bunchers instead.

Bunchers are those who sell to labs. Breeders or others who take animals from the public and then sell them, are only in it for the money, not the welfare of the animals. And those types of people will sell the animal to anyone, without caring whether they are good people or abusers or bunchers. If you aren't sure, ask us.

Homelessness for a pet is very scary and dangerous. It's truly a horrible time currently for any animal to be homeless. The heat is harsh, and all shelters and rescues are bursting at the seams. The county shelters are euthanizing between 100 and 200 per day in the busy summer season. Please continue to care for the pet until other arrangements can be made. You could be the difference between life and death for this animal who would have a difficult time surviving this long, hot summer.

Thank you   for caring about homeless animals.

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Lost and Found Resources

Contact the Microchip manufacturer right away if the pet you lost is chipped.


Call the following services:

AZ PetLine 602-252-2727
Missing Mutts 480-898-8914


Open Access Shelters (check their Lost and Found listings and visit them in person):

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control
http://www.maricopa.gov/pets/ (click Lost & Found)

Apache Junction Animal Control
http://www.ajcity.net/index.asp?NID=162

Arizona Humane Society
http://www.azhumane.org/ (click Find a Pet)


Lost and Found Sites:

PetHarbor http://petharbor.com/ (if empty or sparsely populated, please try again later; updates may be underway)

Craigslist http://phoenix.craigslist.org/laf/

Flealess Market Missing Pet Network http://www.flealess.org/lostpets/arizona.html

Find Toto http://www.findtoto.com/

Arizona Humane Society Adoptable Cats http://www.azhumane.org/cats.shtml

Arizona Humane Society Adoptable Dogs http://www.azhumane.org/dogs.shtml

Found! (Pima County only) http://found-pets.org/

The Pet Rescue http://www.thepetrescue.com/States/AZ/

Help Me Find My Pet (the Amber Alert for Pets) http://www.helpmefindmypet.com/

MissingPets.com http://www.missingpets.com/

Pets Missing in Action http://www.pmia.com/

azcentral.com http://www.azcentral.com/pets/class/pets.php?searchcategory=4031

Arizona Missing Cats Network (cats only) http://azmissingcatsnetwork.webs.com/

Tabby Tracker (cats only) http://www.tabbytracker.com/

Fido Finder (dogs only) http://www.fidofinder.com/

Lost My Doggie (dogs and cats) lostmydoggy.com

Lost Dogs Database (dogs and cats) http://www.lostdogsdatabase.com/

Lost Pet USA http://www.lostpetusa.net/

Lost and Pound http://lostandpound.com/

Missing Pet Ads http://www.missingpetads.com/

GetMeHome.com http://www.getmehome.com/

LostAndFoundNow! http://lostandfoundnow.com/Arizona/


On Facebook:

Lost Pets Arizona https://www.facebook.com/lostpetsaz

Lost Dogs of Arizona https://www.facebook.com/groups/LDOAZ

Lost and Found Pets of Maricopa County, AZ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lost-and-Found-Pets-of-Maricopa-County-AZ/169894313078241


Pet Detectives:

Missing Pet Detectives http://www.missingpetdetectives.com/Home.html

K-9 Search and Rescue http://www.k9sardog.com

Missing Pet Partnership http://www.lostapet.org/recovery-lostcat.php

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ALF Animal Loving Friends
7650 S McClintock Dr
Suite 103-120
Tempe, AZ 85284

Contact Us

Email: alfrescue@hotmail.com