What to Do if Your Pet is Lost?



  • Keep a current photograph of your pet to use for identification and announcement fliers.
  • How would you describe your pet?   What is their size, weight, breed, color, and do they have any special markings?
  • Collar your pet with an id tag with current contact information.
  • Microchip your pet.  The Humane Rescue Alliance offers low cost chipping services.  Move this up on the “To Do” list.
  • If you move, change the address and contact information with the microchip company and collar.
  • The most effective phone number to use for contact information is your cell phone since it is usually with you.
  • Also, if you change phone numbers, don’t forget to update your contact information with the microchip company.
  • Spay or neuter your pet to reduce their desire to travel the four corners of the world.
  • If you are having repair people, a party, or there is a lot of noise that may startle them, place your pet in a secure area.
  • Walk your yard as well as examine the exits and windows of house to identify and secure any possible avenues of escape.


  • If you have lost your pet or if you believe your lost pet is at the Humane Rescue Alliance’s adoption center, please call 202-576-6664 (press 2 at the prompt) or visit the New York Avenue Adoption Center at 1201 New York Avenue, NE.
  • Do a thorough search of your house and ask family members when was the last time they saw your pet.
  • Consider walking through the house shaking a treat bag and calling their name.
  • Leave favorite toy and a item of your clothing outside to help them find home.
  • Walk your neighborhood and look everywhere.  Don’t forget to frequently call their name.
  • Also, check at night when it is quieter.  It can be very noisy here in the city.  Use a flashlight to look into the crannies, into bushes, and under porches.
  • Let your neighbors know that your pet is missing and where to contact you.  Also, ask them to check any garages or sheds where the pet could have locked in while they were out exploring.
  • Enlist the help of your mail carrier and contact local vets with information and a flyer.
  • Let your microchip company know you have lost your pet and confirm they have your correct contact information.
  • It is also a good idea to visit the New York Avenue Adoption Center to check the current residents in case the collar was lost.  Don’t forget to bring a photo.


  • Post information on your neighborhood discussion board as well as NextDoor Neighbor and include a photo.
  • Post on Lost & Found Dogs – DC Metro Area on Facebook.
  • File a lost report with your local animal control and shelters.  Here in D.C, you need to call Humane Rescue Alliance  at 202-576-6664 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • They will ask you to send a photo and description to dispatch@humanerescuealliance.org. Please include the pet’s name, size/weight, breed, color, special markings, date lost and your name and contact information.
  • Also, check out CraigsList daily to see if someone has found your pet.
  • Create a poster and post around where your pet escaped.  Offer a reward, but don’t state an amount.
  • Keep one key piece of information off the flyer to use in verifying the pet parent.


  • Approach carefully.
  • Never remove the collar since the pet might escape again and would have not identification.
  • If possible, can you get a photo?
  • Notify the Humane Rescue Alliance.
  • Check for a microchip at the Shelter or your vet’s office.
  • If there is a collar, call the phone number.
  • Post information on your neighborhood discussion board, Nextdoor Neighbor,
  • Post on Lost & Found Dogs – DC Metro Area on Facebook.
  • Create a Found poster and post in the area.
  • Watch for lost posters, tell your neighbors,

If someone contacts you who you think is the owner, ask them for additional details to verify they are the true pet parent.  If there is a reunion, notice how the pet reacts to the person.  If they seem unsure or scared, ask for more documentation.

Finally, when your pet returns home or is reunited with his forever family, don’t forget to remove the notices, update the discussion boards/announcements, and contact the Humane Rescue Alliance and other groups where you filed reports.