Toggle Search

Finding Lost Animals

Steps to Find Your Four-Legged Friend

It is a terrible feeling to find out that your beloved companion animal is missing. However, the best action is to be proactive with your search. Here are some tips and ideas to help.

1. Search your house thoroughly from top to bottom.

  • Check all closets, cupboards and anywhere else where your animal may have gotten trapped. Retrace your steps and look in any place that he or she may have followed you or other members of the family.
  • Animals can get into some pretty tight places- don't leave any space unturned! Go in, under and behind washing machines, closets, furniture, beds, crawl spaces, cabinets...you get the idea! Take a flashlight for dark spots.
  • Move outside to garages, sheds, barns, trees, vehicles, porches or any other good hiding places for a frightened animal with your flashlight for dark spots. Don't assume he is not there just because he is not responding to your voice. Most animals in unfamiliar territory will try to make themselves invisible and may not respond to you calling his name.

2. Share your info with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin

  • Lost Dogs of Wisconsin offers free resources to people who have lost their dog, and they help make reunions possible often through their great social media reach, especially on Facebook

3. Walk around the neighborhood.

  • Before you leave the house, grab a leash or a carrier to contain your animal and a flashlight. He might be too afraid to come to you or he might try to run away again. Take your cell phone and another person, especially if it’s dark in case you need help.
  • Talk to neighbors-let them know that your companion is missing.
  • Make some noise. Shake a bag of their favorite treats while calling their name, squeak their favorite toy, or any other familiar noises that they will know.
  • Dogs are often good at locating a lost animal. If you can take a dog with you, it might be helpful.

4. Post flyers.

  • Post signs with a photo of the animal and phone number; as many as possible within a two mile radius. Make sure you have your cell phone charged up at all times or your phone has a working answering machine to take messages when you are away. If you want to offer a reward, don’t list the amount.
  • A reward is not essential, but it may motivate someone to contact you instead of keeping the animal. Always withhold at least one important piece of information so that you can verify that the animal is really yours if and when you receive calls. Make sure you expressly state that reward will only be given after the pet is safely returned.
  • When it is time to meet someone to be reunited with your animal, never go alone and suggest a place where a lot of people congregate or a police department.
  • Share your dog's information with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and on other social media sites. 

5. Place strong scented articles outside of your home to attract your pet.

  • Items such as a cat's litter box, bedding or favorite toy.
  • Smelly food such as tuna, chicken, hot dogs (or lettuce and carrots for herbivores) or other delicious treats.

6. Call Animal Control

  • In Milwaukee County, be sure to report that your animal is missing to Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control as soon as possible. MADACC is responsible for picking up and holding stray animals. Visiting their facility is the best way to find out if your animal is there. They are located at 3839 W. Burnham Street in West Milwaukee. You can also go to their website at www.madacc.org or call them at 414-649-8640.
  • In Waukesha County, the Humane Animal Welfare Society and Elmbrook Humane Society takes in strays depending on location. Click on their names to visit their website for more information.
  • In Ozaukee County, the Wisconsin Humane Society: Ozaukee Campus works with stray animals.
  • In Washington County, the Washington Humane Society works with stray animals.
  • Racine County residents should contact Wisconsin Humane Society: Racine Campus to report their animal missing.
  • For other city and county humane services, go to Petfinder.com to look for an agency in your community.
  • Drop off a flyer to your local animal control agency as well.

7. Place an ad in the newspaper in the "Lost and Found" section.

  • Also be sure to check the "found" section of the newspaper each day.
  • When it is time to meet someone to be reunited with your animal, never go alone and suggest a place where a lot of people congregate or a police department.

8. If your fears are realized.

  • Sad as it may be, lost animals sometimes get hit by cars. To find out if your animal was picked up in Milwaukee by the Dept. of Neighborhood Services, call 414-286-8282.

9. Don't give up hope!

  • Keep looking! The best chance you have of finding your lost animal is to continue your search in your neighborhood, online and at animal control.