How to Find Your Lost Pet
If you’ve lost your pet, don’t waste any time – begin your search as soon as you notice that the animal is missing.
Here are some steps to take:
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- Try to find the local police contact for your residential area. It’s possible that the police may have picked up your animal and placed it in the local government facility. (It sometimes only takes a neighbor’s complaint for the police to take an animal away.) Often, you only have 48 hours to retrieve your animal (and they do not always inform owners that the pet has been taken) before it is euthanized, so you need to act fast. If the local security in your building/complex speak only Chinese, find someone bi-lingual to assist you.
- Ask everyone: neighbors, children, mail carriers, passersby. Show them a photo of your pet. Even if they have not seen him, they may be willing to keep an eye out for him. If you are in an area with more local Chinese residents, see if you can enlist assistance from a bi-lingual neighbor or have someone translate to the management and security of your building/complex, neighbors, etc. that your pet is missing, etc.
- Create a bi-lingual flyer with your pet’s photo, a brief description and your phone number. Download a missing pet flyer template here, and a missing pet flyer sample here. Distribute the flyers and post them on telephone poles in the area where you lost your pet. If you can afford it, you might consider offering a reward. Be very careful, however, where you place such notices (and do NOT include your address; just a contact phone number) as there are also ruthless local people in Shanghai, who may show up at your doorstep with an animal they have “decided” is yours and will not leave without a reward (or worse, if you say it is not your cat, they may just throw the animal on the ground and walk away—thereby taking an already abandoned animal to a new territory where it might not be able to fend for itself). Or, if they do find your animal and expect a reward, it is possible they will use whatever means necessary to catch your pet, some of them quite cruel. If you are located in an expatriate residential
complex, putting up flyer’s is no problem, but if you are living in a more local residential area, we suggest that you use flyers only as a last resort.
- Put a “lost pet” ad in the local expatriate newspapers. The ad should be titled “Lost Cat” or “Lost Dog” and should include your phone number, the date that the animal was lost, where she was last seen, and a clear, brief description containing the animal’s name, breed, color, sex, age, and whether she was
wearing a collar. (Note: If you’re offering a reward, you might want to leave out one detail, such as gender, in order to avoid scam artists.) Again, not a great idea to place a listing in a local newspaper as it might attract more ruthless or desperate people.
- Contact area veterinary clinics and send them a photo of your pet. Ask each of them if any animal fitting your pet’s description has been brought in.
- Look around your neighborhood carefully (or wherever your pet was lost). Cats can wander into a neighbor’s basement or garage, fall asleep and accidentally get shut in, especially here in Shanghai.
- Late at night or very early in the morning, when the area is quiet, go to the place where your pet was lost. Bring his favorite food and a flashlight. Call his name and wait to see if he shows up. Try this repeatedly.
- If your pet is an indoor cat who does not usually get out, place her litter box outside, where she may smell her own scent and recognize her home. (Do not clean it out first!)
- Don’t give up! Persistence is often the key to finding a lost pet. Some animals have been found after months of being missing. SCAA’s founder’s own cat disappeared for 10 days during Shanghai’s August 2005 taiphoon. It was likely the cat got lost in the rain, lost the scent of her home and wondered into another area. It was only after extending the area of the search that we believe she smelled the owner in the area and followed her scent home.
- Email SCAA to see if we can help: