"I've Lost My Pet"

Losing your beloved pet can be a very scary and traumatic experience for both of you, but there is no need to panic. By following the right steps, many pets are found and can return home safely, and we’re here to help!

Immediate Action: Get the Word Out

1. Alert your neighbors and the community that your pet is lost via Nextdoor, Montgomery County’s Lost and Found Pet Page , a neighborhood text or email list, social media, and any other online community page. Your post needs to include a clear, recent photo of your pet, an up to-date description of your pet (breed, color, size, male/female), and their last known location.

2. If your pet is microchipped, contact the company who manufactured their chip. Report to them that your pet is lost and confirm that the contact information they have on file for you is up to date.

3. File a Lost Report with the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center: An online lost report can be filled out at  24PetConnect.

4. Search Petco Love Lost.  Petco Love Lost is a MCASAC partner that uses facial recognition software to reunite lost pets with their owners. Your pet’s photo will be scanned against photos of found animals at shelters and those reported by the community. This service is free.


1. Make LOST PET flyers to post in your neighborhood. You can use an  online lost pet flyer template to help you get started. Keep it simple: “LOST DOG/CAT!” should be at the top in large, easy to read, (even from a moving vehicle) bold letters. Don’t assume that people will know your pet’s particular breed, so always include a description.

2. Contact veterinary clinics, including emergency veterinary hospitals both inside and neighboring your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic, especially if it’s after regular appointment hours.

3. Call neighboring shelters outside of Montgomery County. Some animals may wander from the County boundary lines, or the finder may have brought them to another shelter by accident.

Within 24 hours: Get Out and Search

1. Hang your posters with duct tape at major intersections within a 3-mile radius of where your dog was lost, or 1-mile radius of where your cat was lost.

2. Visit MCASAC and other local shelters in person during opening hours to look for your pet. Please ask a staff member to assist you in walking through the shelter since they can access staff-only areas. Make sure to bring photo of your pet and give a flyer to the front desk staff if you have one . We may not recognize your pet from the flyer if they come in at a later date, as the days or weeks that have passed may change their appearance, so be sure to visit the shelter as frequently as you can.

3. Conduct a physical search of your neighborhood, the area where your pet was last seen, or where they’re known to frequent. Call their name and have treats, a leash, or carrier ready to contain them if found. Tell everybody you encounter that you’re looking for your lost pet and ask them to contact you if your pet is seen (remind them to not chase or scare your pet if  they’re spotted.)


Dog Recovery Tips

A friendly, confident dog is more likely to be found where people or other dogs gather. A shy, frightened or injured dog, or one lost in an unfamiliar area, is more likely to be hiding or on the run. Create a game plan for recovering your pet based on typical lost dog behavior and your dog’s personality, but be aware even a confident dog may become skittish when lost.

For more in-depth information on recovering your lost dog  visit the Missing Animal Response Network.

Most dogs are recovered well within a two-mile circle of their home, especially because they will likely not run for an extended length in a straight line.


Cat Recovery Tips

Start placing food and water in a safe spot in the area where you suspect your cat is hiding (a large plastic storage container turned on its side can protect the food from rain). If you suspect your cat is visiting the feeding station, set a humane trap to capture them. Many rescue groups will have a trap you can borrow. (Be sure to monitor the trap and quickly release any wildlife or other animal you unintentionally capture.)

The Missing Animal Response Network has found that cats will often hide for around 10 days after becoming displaced from their territory before they “break cover” and come out of hiding, so don’t lose hope if there are no sightings of your cat in the first two weeks of them going missing.

For more in-depth tips on recovering your lost cat visit the Missing Animal Response Network.

75% of cats are found within a 0.3 mile radius of where they went missing, though indoor-outdoor cats may be more likely to travel a bit further. 

Finding a lost pet can take time, so don’t give up if they’re not found within the first few hours or days. Start searching immediately and often. Animals that are lost may still be close to home. Even the friendliest and most social pet may quickly become skittish and scared when lost. He or she may even run away from you if spooked. Don’t chase after a lost pet –they are much faster than we are and you’ll only scare them more. Instead, sit on the ground; speak to them in a soft, friendly, normal voice, repeating his or her name and familiar phrases over and over again. A frightened animal will usually stick around and eventually come closer.

Don’t give up in searching for your lost friend. Missing pets have been known to be found weeks, months, and even years after going missing.

MCASAC is always here as a resource for you and your pet. Please do not hesitate to contact MCASAC for more information. 

External Resources:

If you have lost your pet:

If you have lost your pet, you should immediately file a Lost Report with the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center:

If you believe your lost pet is at our shelter and ready to reclaim it, please be prepared to present at least one of the following items* as proof of ownership:

  1. License and vaccination records

  2. Purchase or adoption receipts

  3. Microchip registration documents

  4. Veterinary records

  5. In cases where "next of kin" is reclaiming a pet:

    • Power of attorney

*Items should have name that corresponds with ID or photo identification.

Lost and Found (Includes Pet Reclaim and Services Fees)

Find out how   licensing your pet can help reunite you with them.

If you have found a pet:

If you have found an animal either bring it to the Center or, if you want to keep it in your house, file a found report with us. Many animals are reunited by matching up lost reports with found reports.

Online: An online found report can be filled out at   Pet Harbor.  Be sure that you are entering all descriptors in the proper field. Be sure to upload a photograph of the animal, if possible.

In person:  Bring in a photograph. Office staff will assist you with form completion.

By phone: (240) 773-5900
Please call during open hours. After you have phoned in a report, photographs can be emailed to your customer service representative.



Lost Pets at the Shelter