Lost Dog? Who to Call for Help: 4 Key Organizations

An animal shelter called for a lost dog

Key takeaways

When we lose a dog, we can struggle to think straight. After all, they are part of the family.

However, the most important step to take to get them home quickly is to report them missing and get help.

In this guide, we set out four essential organizations to call for help before offering our expert advice on how to find your lost dog.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. 4 places to report your dog missing
  3. Tips for finding a lost dog
  4. FAQs
  5. Final thoughts

4 places to report your dog missing

The key to finding a lost dog quickly is reporting them missing as soon as they run away. This will increase your chances of being reunited with them as soon as possible.

1. Local animal shelter

Local shelters will often receive reported sightings of lost dogs and stray dogs. Many people's first instinct if they find a lost dog is to hand them into a shelter. If the shelter can't track down their owner, they may be put up for adoption or, in the worst case scenarios, euthanized.
By reporting your pup missing to all the local shelters in the area, you can rest assured knowing they will contact you if your furry friend turns up.
When you contact local animal shelters, make sure you do the following:

Provide a detailed description: Ensure you tell the animal shelter about memorable physical traits, their breed, and size. You should also include a description of their personality and temperament to help them handle your pup if they do find them.

Send photos: Photos of your pup can be essential in identifying whether they've got the right dog. Busy animal shelters will receive hundreds of reports of lost dogs in a week, so photos can help your pup stand out.

Provide contact details and the area they went missing: Including all the information about how your furry friend went missing and where, along with your phone number, email address, and postal address, will ensure a swift return of your pup.

A busy animal shelter looking after lost dogs

2. Veterinary offices

Many stray animals are taken to veterinary clinics. Often, if someone finds a stray dog or lost pet, they’ll want to get them checked over by a professional and get them the care they need.
This means that notifying local veterinarians can be extremely useful when trying to track down your pup. Be sure to:

Report your dog missing to multiple vets in the wider area

Tell them that your pup is microchipped

Contact the vet your dog is registered with first

A vet checking over a lost dog

3. PetRadar

When you report your dog missing with PetRadar, we'll do all we can to get them home. First, we create a digital missing dog poster and distribute it on social media as a sponsored post or an advertisement.
This targets people in your area, meaning over 4,000 neighbors will be alerted to your lost dog. So, when your neighbors are scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds, they'll see your furry friend. From the post, they can report them missing, send it to a friend, or save it for later.
We'll also:

Send you a personalized, free, and printable missing dog poster: We create an expertly-designed missing pet poster for your pup. It'll have all of the information you submit, as well as a QR code that passers-by can scan to report a sighting. This means you don't have to share your personal contact details with the public.

Offer constant support and guidance: Our team of pet lovers will be there for you every step of the way. We'll instantly notify you when a sighting is reported, send you updates on your search every 12 hours, and provide you with hundreds of articles full of advice.

List your missing pet on our website: We'll create a listing of your lost dog on our website. This means if anyone finds your pup and searches for lost dogs in the area, the listing will pop up, and they'll be able to contact you.

PetRadar's lost dog poster

4. Animal control agencies

Local animal control agencies are invaluable organizations that can help you find your lost dog. They are primarily set up to monitor stray animals, pets, and wildlife in your area. This means they have the resources and expertise to help you track down your furry friend.
They'll be able to:

Provide you with humane traps

Offer expert advice

Physically help you search for your dog

Provide a list of lost and found pets in the area

Top Tip: Contacting your local animal control agency will improve your chances of finding your lost pet. Getting expert help is a fantastic place to start.
Animal control looking over a lost dog

Tips for finding a lost dog

Once you have reported your dog missing, it's time to physically search for them. After all, this is the most effective method of finding lost pets.
When searching for them, check the following places:





Bin stores

Under cars




To increase the effectiveness of your search, try the following:

Tap into their sense of smell: Dogs have a fantastic nose, and they can pick up a scent from up to 12 miles away! (source) This means bringing food, toys, and blankets that smell like home on your search can help them find their way back to you.

Recruit your neighbors: The more people searching, the more likely you are to find your furry friend. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye out, or even to join in the search efforts.

Distribute lost dog flyers: Another great way to spread the message is through missing pet posters. These can alert people all over your neighborhood and encourage them to report sightings. You can download our free lost dog poster to get started!

Once you have reported your dog missing, it's time to physically search for them. After all, this is the most effective method of finding lost pets.

neighbors looking for a lost dog


Who do I call when I lose a dog?

When you lose a dog, it's best to call your local animal shelter as soon as possible. Alongside this, make sure you report your pet missing to local veterinarians, animal control, and PetRadar.

Do police deal with lost dogs?

No, unfortunately, the police department will not deal with a lost dog because no crime has been committed. If you suspect your dog has been stolen, then reporting them to the police is essential.

Who to call if you find a lost dog?

If you find a lost dog, it's important you report them. To do this, call the local animal control department, animal shelters, and veterinarians. They will be able to check them over and scan them for a microchip to contact their owners.

What to do when you lose a dog?

When you lose a dog, you should report them missing straight away. After this, start physically searching for them. You should spread the message to as many neighbors as possible to increase the chances of finding them.

What happens to a dog if it gets lost?

Most dogs, if they get lost, will find somewhere to wait and hide. Their fight-or-flight instinct will tell them to remain safe and avoid interactions with other people or animals. Once they have calmed down, they will likely try to find their way home.

How far can a lost dog travel?

A lost dog can travel quite far. However, the likelihood is that they've stayed close to home. If they're a timid pup, they'll likely be hiding nearby. If they're more adventurous, they may have wandered to the local park!

Final thoughts

We hope this guide has offered some practical advice for finding your lost dog. If you've still had no luck, start a PetRadar search. We'll do all we can to get your furry friend home as soon as possible and offer constant support and guidance.
We've already found over 12,000 lost pets and reunited them with their families, so you'll be in good hands!

Written by

Image of the author
Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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