SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

What to do if your pet goes missing

Losing your pet can be a very distressing time for owners. Thousands of animals become lost or go missing from their home every year.

Some are returned but unfortunately many never find their way back home. If your pet goes missing it’s important that you try a variety of methods to get them back home safely and don’t just rely on one method to work.

We recommend the following:​​​​​

Update your details

Make sure your contact details are up-to-date on the microchip register and your local council’s dog registration database. The vets and SPCA will scan incoming animals for a microchip and check dog registration tags and get in touch.

Check your property

Make sure you thoroughly search your property – check in cupboards, under the house, in sheds and garages. Frightened and sick or injured animals may hide for days under bushes and will often ignore your calls. Think like an animal and consider all possible places your pet may have gone.

Knock on your neighbours’ doors

Knock on doors in your street/neighbourhood and tell them about the animal you’re looking for. It is a good idea to take a photo of your pet with you and to hand them a flyer. Ask them to check their garden sheds and garages or anywhere else that your pet may have decided to hide.

Use Animalregister.nz/LostPet

We list every stray animal that comes into SPCA care on www.animalregister.co.nz/LostPet. Check the ‘found’ listings and create a ‘lost’ listing at www.animalregister.co.nz/LostPet. This is a national database and the key website we recommend everyone checks the ‘found’ listings and creates a ‘lost’ listing of their own.

Create a flyer

Make a flyer with a clear picture and description, and more than one contact phone number. Distribute it locally via notice boards, mailboxes, neighbours, supermarkets, libraries, community centres etc. If you have listed your animal on www.animalregister.co.nz/LostPet as lost, you can print a flyer straight from their website.

Visit the vets

Call all local vet clinics and drop in to see them with a flyer – many of them have lost and found boards.

Use social media

Embrace the power of social media to spread the word. There are plenty of lost and found pages on Facebook that can be used. Ask your friends to share your posts as well, this will get them seen by the maximum number of people. If you have listed your animal on www.animalregister.co.nz/LostPet as lost, you can share your pet's details straight from their website.

Check Trade Me

Look on the Trade Me Lost & Found section to see if anyone is advertising that they have found your pet.

Contact your council

If your dog has been found stray or wandering then they may have been impounded. You may also want to visit your local council animal shelter with a flyer to put on their lost board. Contact your local council for more details.

Contact other animal welfare organisations

Phone other local animal welfare organisations to check if they have received your animal.

Check your old house

If you’ve recently moved house then your pet might have tried to find their way ‘home’. Talk to the new occupants and your old neighbours, give them a flyer and ask them to check garden sheds, garages etc.

Use familiar sounds

Go out around your neighbourhood at night, when it’s quiet, and call your animal. Shaking biscuits or treats can help as well.

Don’t give up

It’s important to keep trying to look for your lost pet. Animals (especially cats) can often go missing for a number of days or even weeks before they show up again out of the blue.

At the SPCA we receive thousands of phone calls about lost and found animals. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend microchipping your pet.

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