There are numerous lost and found pet sites on the web…
Most are for-profit sites offering various services for a fee. Based on all the experience we have had since 1998 when we began helping people recover lost pets this is what we have found:
Useful Services: Creating posters, or mailing postcard notices to neighbors and local vets. Maintaining a database.
Less Effective Services:
1) making robo-calls to neighbors (How can you be sure to reach the neighbors who only have cell phones?)
2) Emailing or robo-calling shelters and humane societies. The sad fact is that most shelters have just too many animals to deal with and they are too busy taking care of those animals to follow up on all the lost and found reports they receive. YOU MUST GO IN PERSON TO YOUR LOCAL SHELTER(S) EARLY AND OFTEN , at least every other day, preferably every single day for several weeks. This is especially true in large urban areas where shelters may have hundreds of cats and dogs impounded.
Do not be lulled into doing nothing more because you have paid some company to make contacts for you. By using the information on this site, you can identify the agencies where your pet is most likely to turn up and go there or at least make frequent personal inquiries. That will be more effective than a single notice sent by a commercial web site.
Conventional wisdom: Most recoveries take place through shelters.
Fact: Various studies show that only 17-30% of dogs in shelters are ever reclaimed by their owners and less that 2% of cats!
Lost and Found Pet Sites with Free Services
The sites listed below are either not-for-profit or offer some free feature. In order to “leave no stone unturned” we encourage you to check them out.
Beware of For-Profit Web Sites! Not included here are sites that are primarily commercial. Should you decide to pay a commercial lost and found contact service or a pet detective you should research their reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau where they are located. All too many are only out to make a quick buck. A number of them are notorious for “poaching”. You may be contacted by them through the information you gave on a not-for-profit site. First they bait you by offering a free service, like creating a flyer. Then they will ask for your credit card number to “boost” your information. Do not give it to them.
Important: Information about lost and found pets is scattered everywhere! Yet there are few sites that even acknowledge the existence of other lost and found pet sites. It would be ideal if all information were in one place but it is not and, realistically, it never will be. So it is up to you to use as many resources as you can. PetFBI.org seems to have the greatest number of lost and found pet reports and the best designed database, which makes it easy to search them. Still, information about your pet may well be posted elsewhere.
- Lost and found sites specific to your area: Many local shelters and humane societies maintain their own databases. To find these, use a search engine with the key words “lost (or “found”) pets in (your area)”.
- Do not overlook Craigslist’s free classifieds.
- Homeagain.com is primarily a microchip registry but anyone can register a lost pet even if it is not microchipped and you can search their database.
- LostFoundPets.us This is a free public database unless you want to feature your pet on their front page, in which case there is a fee.
- Nextdoor.com: This is a series of neighborhood sites, like a private social network for your neighborhood. Not strictly a lost and found site, but many people use it to report lost and found pets.
Maintains a network of Facebook pages dedicated to lost and found dog reports for about 27 states. This is an outstanding site with tons of useful information. Unfortunately it is limited to dogs. In general Facebook pages can be very effective short term but they have severe limitations – you have to create your own Facebook page to access and you cannot do a targeted search.
- The Center For Lost Pets
Dogs and cats only. You cannot bracket search results by date. Yields irrelevant results.
Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture
Organized by state but not sortable by date, no photos
- Helpinglostpets.com: Map based, a site with good intentions but tricky to use
- www.fidofinder.com: Just dogs Tabbytracker.com: Just cats These two sites allow you to search for free, but you have to pay extra to include your own report with a picture or a phone number. They also say they will alert nearby shelter(s) for a small fee, but only shelters that have registered with them. (In our large metropolitan area, only one shelter was listed out of possible dozens.)
How is Pet FBI different from all others?
We encourage you to use every possible source to seek and spread information about your lost or found pet. Lost pet web sites, Craigslist, Facebook, even traditional utility pole flyers and newspaper classifieds are important tools. But only an interactive, searchable database like Pet FBI will give you the best chances for success because:
- The Pet FBI database is user-friendly. You do not even have to “register”.
- Once you post a report you get automatic email Alerts about new reports for 90 days, saving you lots of time and optimizing your chances of success
- The Pet FBI database “Search” feature is designed to zero in on only relevant results.
- Pet FBI is strictly non-commercial, has been since it was founded in 1998 and will remain so by charter. All features are absolutely free.
- Your lost or found report can remain posted for at least four years, without needing to remember to renew it.
- The report form prompts you for all the critical information.
- You have complete and direct control over your report. You can edit, update or inactive it at any time.
- “Losers” and “finders” are free to contact each other directly. There is no intermediary. Time is critical!
- Reports are searchable by zip code with your choice of radius (in exact miles up to 250 miles from the zip code you choose). You can cast as narrow or wide a net as necessary.
- You can search or post a report for any kind of animal.
- It is state-of-the art for speed and efficiency.
- After almost two decades of experience (since 1998) we have compiled the most comprehensive advice and useful tips for recovering lost pets
- Pet FBI volunteers are available through email for advice and encouragement.
- Pet FBI has a network of volunteers both official and unofficial who search and cross-check.
Wouldn’t it be great if all the information were gathered in one place?
Just as there is a single national registry for stolen cars, there should be a single database for lost and found pets that everybody would use: individuals, shelters, animal control, rescues and so on. Please help us make Pet FBI “information central” for lost and found pets. The more people who use it, the better it will work.
You can help promote the use of the Pet FBI database by suggesting it to the agencies in your area, to your vet, pet supply stores, groomers, friends, family and so on. There is a Pet FBI flyer you can print to post or leave with people.
Please check our How to Help page for other volunteer ideas.