Two, you must go to the shelters! Look several times a week and don't limit yourself to just the shelter of the county you live in. Someone may have found your pet on their way to work but dropped him off at a shelter that was close to where they are employed and not necessarily the shelter in the county where you live. Check the infirmary as well as the general population cages.
When you go to the shelters, take pictures-each and every time you go. You wouldn't believe how easily they can get misplaced or thrown out.
CREATING EFFECTIVE SIGNS
Make up signs. Use brightly colored paper, if possible. Remember less is more. Like I said, you may say Lost Large Golden Dog and people will look at the dog they've found and think it's orange and never call you. Just put "Lost Large Dog no collar-Reward" or "lost cat-Reward" and include your phone number. Don’t put a picture on the flyer. People will see large text much better than a photograph. Get as many people to call you as possible. When people call you, don’t tell them your cat is declawed or is missing a portion of their ear. Keep questions to ask the caller so that they will have to give you the answer that makes you believe this is absolutely your animal. Example: If your cat has a strange meow ask “What kind of a meow does he have?” Don’t ask: “Does he have a high pitched meow?” or “What color are his eyes?” instead of “Does he have amber eyes?” Make them work at telling you about your cat or dog. You wouldn’t believe how many well intentioned people will call you just because they want to be helpful and tell you what you want to hear but haven’t really seen your pet.
Also, waterproof your signs. Use those plastic sheet protectors that you can get at an office supply store for reports and such, insert your sign and back it with a stiff piece of cardboard. Put the bottom of your sign closest to the place where you insert the paper and staple it shut so the rain can't fill up inside and nail them everywhere you can think of, even those neighboring subdivisions. You can also attach them to stop signs which are made of metal but have holes in the posts if you buy some plastic electrical ties that you can get at any hardware store.
FLYERS-Put in Mailboxes
This is not a legal practice and can get you in a bit of trouble with the post office but here goes. Make up a flyer. This where you can include a picture if you want. Think like an animal and not a person. Animals will not travel along streets, they will go through woods and backyards. What neighborhoods do you back up to? What’s on the other side of the woods you back up to? Find out and put flyers in the mailboxes in those locations as well as in your neighborhood. Remember to put signs in these areas, too. After working for the post office for 15 years, I can tell you, do not put the flyers on the outside of the box. Many mailmen will throw them away. A mailbox is considered government property so I caution you before doing this. I used to just create a simple flyer asking people to check their crawl spaces, sheds and deck areas to see if my pet was there. At the bottom of the flyer I would put “Mail Carrier, please do not remove this flyer, I’m trying to find my pet”. I used to get a huge response this way from the neighbors...and my mail carrier was nice enough not to throw away my flyers.
Offer a reward, but don't state the amount. Because of scam artists and other criminals in our society, you'll have to be extra careful when offering monetary rewards.
WORD OF MOUTH-Talk to everybody you run across.
This includes the postman, paperboy, children, parents waiting at the school bus stop, school crossing guards, neighborhood crime watch groups, garbage pick-up crews, etc. Give them a flyer of your pet and your phone number as well.
PLACE FAMILIAR SCENTS OUTSIDE YOUR HOME
Place strong scented articles of clothing, cat or dog bedding, litter boxes, favorite food/toys outside so that there is a strong scent association with your location that will appeal to your pet. Also, if weather permits, place crated family pets outside. Just make sure they are placed in a safe and secure location. You don't need another pet lost.
VETERINARIANS-If you are in the Richmond area:
Call the Emergency Veterinarians after 5 or 6 PM. Someone may have brought in your injured pet.
Goochland VRCC (804) 784-8722
Carytown in Richmond (804) 353-9000
Also, go to the area vets during business hours. You may not have time to go to every vet in your area but check in a 10-mile radius from your home and see if you can drop a flyer by their office to post. They may even let you fax or email it to them.
Try contacting animal organizations: HAPPE, SHARE, CARE, BARK, AARF, FLAG, etc. They have wonderful email networks and will get the word out quickly about your pet.
Contact Richmond SPCA (804) 643-6785 as well as other humane societies.
Go to the Petsmart: There used to be a lost and found section at the Short Pump and Virginia Center Commons Petsmarts. Post your flyer there as well as as any other pet store in your vicinity.
Call the newspapers and not only place an ad but ask if someone has placed an ad matching your animal's description. Call both the smaller community and regional papers.
Post your missing dog or cat online and also do a search of found pets while your there. Here's some good sites to visit.
STORES AND POST OFFICES
Be sure to post flyers with some detail on them, at your local grocery stores, hair dressers and post offices. Any community centers are good, too. Remember, never include your address on any of your printed materials.
BE DILIGENT AND KEEP THE FAITH
I never found my cat the second time I lost him (he was a wanderer and could not be made an indoor cat...I tried) but people called me long after because my signs were so well preserved and I had my ads posted online.
I searched for 5 months for my cat, Monty, and I came across some wonderful people who really wanted to help me. I also came across some very uncaring, cold hearted people (one girl at a humane society told me to give up, he was probably dead). My advice to you is to ignore what they have to say. Animal lovers will not try to discourage you. People who don't love animals are usually very negative toward your search efforts. They can be mean and they can cause you to lose hope. I've given these same tips to other people in the past and they've found their animals in shelters and other neighborhoods, often times several miles from where they were lost....sometimes months after they lost them. So keep the faith. Animals are very resilient and most likely your dog/cat is getting fed by someone right around the corner. Once you find your pet, be sure to take up old flyers and thank everyone who has helped you. Be sure to collar and ID your pet and make an appointment with your veterinarian to get your pet micro-chipped. Best wishes in your search. I hope you find your pet.
P.S. If you have a success story you'd like to share or a tip for finding a pet, I would love to hear it.
Just drop me an email. If you would like to post your story or tip, please give me permission to do so in your email. Thanks.