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(240) 252-2555 (voice)

(240) 547-4308 (fax)

1300 E. Gude Dr.

Rockville, MD 20850


601 S. Stonestreet Ave.

Rockville, MD 20850

Business Hours


Seven days a week

Finding a Lost Pet

Finding a

Lost Pet

If you have lost a pet, visit the shelter at least every other day

Important Steps to Help Find a Lost Pet

1. Walk and drive through your neighborhood looking for and calling your animal. Do this the instant you realize your pet is missing.


Check the places your pet most likely would go –- parks, schools, neighbors’ homes with pets -- especially if the pet you lost is an unneutered male who may be looking for a female in heat. Also, check places you normally walk together, nearby restaurants and garbage dumps. If your pet is friendly, check places where there are lots of people, such as stores and shopping centers. If your pet is shy, frightened, injured, or the weather is bad, it may be hiding. Look in places where your pet could crawl for safety, seclusion or to keep warm and dry.


If you’ve lost a cat, be sure to look "up and under". Look behind, under and inside washing machines, clothes dryers, stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers. Look behind water heaters, in boxes, under furniture, under beds, in closets, in cabinets, in shelves and bookcase, in drain pipes, in sewer drains, in culvert pipes, under vehicles, in crawl spaces under the house, inside sheds and barns, etc. Look in attic crawl spaces, on the roof and in roof gutters. Look up into trees or places where it could climb.  Look under cars, especially in bad or cold weather, as cats are attracted to the leftover warmth of the car engine. Listen for meowing.


If your pet has a favorite "squeaky toy", bring it along and use it to help you make familiar noises. Carry a box of your pet’s favorite biscuits, chews or other treats and rattle it loudly while calling your pet’s name. Bring a powerful flashlight (even during daylight hours) for checking dark spaces. Don’t chase an escaped dog who may think you’re playing. Do try to keep the animal in sight, periodically stoop down and call or try to "herd" the dog to a safe area.

2. CALL all area animal shelters immediately after your first neighborhood search to file a Lost Report. DO NOT WAIT a few days before calling. Shelters have different policies as to when stray animals can be adopted or euthanized. Call the shelters in all neighboring jurisdictions -– someone may have picked up your pet and taken it out of the county to a different animal shelter.

3. Talk to people in your neighborhood, especially your neighbors, children, postal carriers and others who are outdoors frequently. Show pictures of your lost pet to people who are outside frequently, such as children, joggers and postal carriers. If you don’t have a picture of your pet, try to find something close in a magazine. Don’t travel alone. Take a friend or family member with you.

4. Leave items with a familiar scent outside your home -– a litter box, pet bed or a sweatshirt worn recently by a loved one can attract a pet that has strayed and become disoriented.

If Steps 1 through 4 have not produced results after several hours of trying, try the following:

5. Call local veterinarians. Someone may have picked up your pet injured or a finder who decided to keep your pet may have taken it to a vet for a check-up and vaccinations. Call local groomers if your pet is a breed that needs frequent grooming (such as a poodle).

6. Try calling local radio stations and your local schools.  Sometimes they will make announcements over the P.A., or they may allow you to post a “Lost Pet” flyer inside the school.

7. Use local newspapers. Place an ad in the classified ads under “Lost.”  Some will do this for free. List the breed, sex, color, age, any collar or tags, area where lost and whether you are offering a reward. Be sure to include a phone number. If you have to pick only one day to run your ad, pick Sunday because the circulation is larger that day, unless that means waiting more than 5 days before the ad runs.  If you can afford several days, space them out.

Check the classified ads under "Found" every day to see if someone advertises finding your pet or if it's listed by a shelter.  Be sure to make allowances for breed interpretations and descriptions.

8. Take advantage of the Internet, mobile, and email.  Many breed-specific rescues and all-breed rescues maintain active listservs and may be willing to carry a "lost pet" announcement.  Use your cell phone to upload a photo of your pet to free mobile services such as

In addition, you can add your lost pet listing to Helping Lost Pets. This website is totally free and is map based. Your pet listing will appear on the map and be broadcast to other websites. You can even print posters from the website.

9. Make flyers to hand out to people in your neighborhood and post signs inserted in plastic sleeves on telephone poles, at schools, bus stops, police stations, stores, restaurants, post offices, laundromats, groomers, churches, gas stations, recreation areas, libraries, veterinarians, etc. Don't write down your name or address.  Because of scam artists and other criminals in our society, it is never a good idea to publicize this information.

A reward is a good idea (do not mention the amount) because it motivates people to be observant to pick up a stray, especially if it's not wearing an I.D., or return an animal they might have considered keeping or selling.

Be sure that you can be reached at the phone number you put on any flyers or in the paper. An answering machine or voicemail service is useful to make sure that you receive all calls.

10. VISIT area shelters at least once every 2-3 days. Even though your pet may seem unique to you, shelters handle thousands to animals and they may not recognize it from your description, especially if it’s a mixed breed animal. Keep checking back with other people you’ve contacted, as well.

Although shelter workers keep their eyes open, most do not have adequate staff to check the kennels constantly for pets that match your description. The Montgomery County Animal Shelter can hold strays for only 6 days before beginning to process adoption applications.

11. Be wary of pet-recovery scams! When describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic. When talking about your pet to strangers, offer no information, ask many questions and carefully answer questions posed to you. Be wary of people who insist that you wire them money in order for them to return your pet.

12. Check with whoever handles picking up dead animals off the streets. In Montgomery County, the Humane Society picks up dead animals on non-state roads and records of those animals are kept at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. The State Roads Commission picks up dead animals on all state roads (any road with a route number). However, the State Roads Commission does not keep records of dead animals it picks up.

13. If you suspect that your pet has been stolen, report the theft to the Montgomery County Police Department.

14. Don’t give up too soon! Lost animals sometimes turn up months later.


This page last updated 2-28-14



14645 Rothgeb Drive | Rockville, MD 20850 | Main Number: 240.773.5960

Fax: 301.279.1998