Things To Do When You Are Looking For A Lost Animal

If you've lost your pet:

  • Report it missing by calling Miami-Dade's (Miami-Dade County only) Animal Shelter at 305-884-1101 ext 241

  • You can visit the shelter, 7401 NW 74 St., from 11 AM to 4:30 PM.

  • If your pet is not at the shelter, you will be asked to fill out a form and return every three days to check.

  • You may also view animals being impounded at the shelter by visiting Petharbor, an independent web site not run by the county.

  • The county also recommends posting bulletins in the shelter and local businesses.

Source: Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department

Also, try Lost Pet America - Lost Pet America is a FREE OF CHARGE “bulletin board” website where lost or found pet ads reach thousands more, thus increasing the probability of owners and finders making contact.

Below is an article published in Cat Network News with helpful tips for recovering lost cats. We strongly encourage cat owners to keep a cat safety collar with an ID tag containing the kitty’s name, phone number and address on them at all times (even indoor only cats in the event they accidentally escape.) Also, microchip your cats, and for indoor/outdoor animals consider installing cat fencing ( and to safely contain them in your yard. (*Check fence line for holes where cat could escape at bottom, and shadow box fencing needs a small piece of wood installed between planks to prevent cats squeezing out.)


By Lynn MacAuley

Recently, a frantic plea was sent out via Cat Network e-mail for help in finding a neighbor's lost cat. Apparently, the person had been allowing his cat to go outside for a few minutes each day. The ritual worked fine as she always stayed in the yard and returned to the house after a few minutes… until one day in September. A few minutes turned into a few hours and a few days. The person was devastated but no amount of searching helped. We can only hope that a kind-hearted person thought she needed a home and took her in because the neighbor never found her.

By nature, cats are especially curious creatures. They are compelled to explore and seek out new things and new places. Unfortunately, cats (and many cat owners) don’t understand the risks faced by outdoor cats.

Cars probably are the biggest danger, especially for cats that are not streetwise. Dogs are also a big threat. Sometimes a savvy cat can elude a single dog, but they are rarely able to get away when the dogs run in packs. Cats can ingest poisonous lawn chemicals, automobile antifreeze and rodent bait. Outdoor cats can be exposed to Feline Leukemia, Immunodeficiency Virus and Rabies. They are much more likely to have fleas, ear mites and intestinal parasites, compromising their immune system. 

Sadly, cats also have to contend with cruel people. “Bunchers" pick up loose pets and sell them to the Class B dealers who in turn sell them to research labs. Cats may be the victims of sick people who torture and sacrifice them or use them as bait to train fighting dogs.

What should you do if your cat accidentally gets out?

1. Make sure he has a way to get back into his home. Leave a door ajar or a window open.

2. Put food, water and something with your scent out on your front or back porch so your pet knows it’s “home.”

3. Don't waste too many hours searching during daylight. Wherever he is then, he is probably hiding out and sleeping. Cats are nocturnal. Start about 5-6:00 am and again at dusk. Search in the wee hours of the night (i.e. 2-3:00 am) so if you call him, he will be able to hear you and, having fewer threats, will be able to come to you. (At that time, there are few dogs barking, less vehicular traffic and noises, and fewer people up and about.) Take a flashlight and look under bushes, cars, low lying brush, etc. A cat’s eyes will reflect the light back so you can see it even if you don’t physically see the cat in the darkness.

4. Post signs in key places around the neighborhood (on poles and posts, in grocery stores, vet clinics and pet stores) with a description and photograph, and offer a reward (don't specify an amount.) We recommend posting signs 10 blocks around your home in all four directions.

5. Run a “lost” ad in your local newspaper and any community newspapers/direct mail vehicles (like The Flyer in Miami-Dade and Broward counties) with a photo. The smaller publications can localize distribution to your immediate area. The newspaper will cover the county in the event someone’s picked up your cat and lives further away.

6. Call 1-800 USSTRAY. Post information about your lost pet @

7. Register your lost pet with and check Animal Care and Control and the Humane Society daily. Don't rely on them contacting you.

8. Alert neighborhood children and the postman to keep an eye out. These are people who are out and about a lot and might have the best chance of seeing your pet.

9. With a deposit you can borrow a humane trap from The Cat Network. Even tame cats at times do not readily come to their owners because they are so freaked by their situation. A humane trap entices the kitty to enter it for a tasty, smelly food (tuna or fried chicken) and a trap door closes behind it when he’s far enough inside to trigger a plate on the trap’s floor. Kitty can then be picked up and transported inside before being released.

10. Keep looking! Often cats don’t wander far but hunker down in the immediate vicinity where they went missing. You may not see your pet for days yet it’s out there. Some unfortunately do travel further (especially if chased by dogs) and get lost. That’s why signs 10 blocks in every direction from your home and the other measures need to be taken.

11. Most importantly, don't give up. It is possible that he got closed in someone's garage or climbed into a vehicle and the owner drove off. 

Please be a responsible parent for your cat. He is totally dependent on you for food, shelter, medical care, love and attention. Those facts are common knowledge. What is often overlooked is that cats need protection as well. Don't let yourself be a loser. The finder may not be as caring or worse, the finder may not be out there. All too often, there are no finders.

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