What to do if your pet is lost or missing

FIRST STEP contact us: info@gerdysrescue.org

  • Phone everybody that may be able to help: vets, animal rescue organizations, etc. Leave your contact info with everyone (DETAILS BELOW).
  • Make posters. (DETAILS BELOW).
  • Talk to as many neighbours as possible (who live in the area), as this will increase your chances of finding your pet. Be especially talkative with neighbours who have pets, as their pet may have interacted with yours and they may be more attuned to noticing a stray animal in the neighbourhood.
  • Ask people for their ideas on how to find your pet. One example would be to leave a cage in the backyard with water, which may lure it back home.

Places to phone

  • Contact the SPCAs and Berger Blanc (depending on the municipality you reside in). Go in person with a photo of your pet.
  • Public security in your area to report the missing pet.
  • City Hall and leave your contact information.
  • Veterinarians in your area.
  • Report the information to your pet’s vet as well, and put up a poster in their office (with permission).
  • Consider calling all other vets in the city, you just never know where your pet may turn up, including the outskirts of the city in finding your pet.
  • Put up plasticized posters if your municipality allows it. Remember to remove them when pet is found.

Put up posters

Include information on:

  • Name of the pet and breed.
  • Colour(s).
  • Gender (Male vs. Female).
  • Neutered or Spayed.
  • Age.
  • Medication needed.
  • Date that your pet went missing.
  • Your name, phone number, address.
  • Other information: e.g., is your pet declawed? Are all four paws declawed or just the front paws?
  • Where your pet was last seen.
  • Was it wearing a collar.
  • Approximate weight (e.g. frail, medium or large/plump).
  • Is your pet micro chipped.
  • If a reward is offered.

Distributing Posters

For the general public:

  • Put posters in the neighbourhood, especially in the area where your pet was lost, with permission.
  • Put up a poster at your local City Hall, and near the local library.
  • Place posters at nearby stores.
  • Show the poster and other photos when approaching neighbours.
  • Call veterinarians and ask for permission to put up posters (find out their hours of operation first).
  • Regularly check the posters: they may be taken down within a day or two OR if it rains the photo of your pet can become discoloured/disfigured and will have to be replaced.
  • Be prepared to keep putting up posters in the same places that they were recently removed.

For the SPCAs, Berger Blanc and other Shelters:

  • Make sure to go in person to give them the poster & have other photos with you to show them.
  • Ask if anyone reported a missing animal of the same breed and gender since the date that your pet went missing.
  • They keep animals 3-5 days, so make sure you go to the shelters as often as possible.
  • They have volunteers and are short-staffed. They may receive 50 or more new animals every day, in addition to serving those animals that are already there. Therefore, they may not necessarily phone you if they find your pet.

What to do if you find a lost pet
  • Don’t assume that it has been abandoned! It may be somebody’s house pet that snuck out the door and got lost and is trying to find its way back home!
  • Check on petluck.ca to see if anyone is looking for the animal
  • Check with the SPCAs and Berger Blanc.
  • Keep an eye out for posters in the neighbourhood that the owner(s) might have put up!
  • Call local veterinarians to report that you found the animal, and leave your contact information in case they get a phone call from the owner who is looking for their lost pet.
  • Consider putting up a “found” poster in the area and in a classified ad of a local newspaper.
  • Consider taking the animal to a local veterinarian for a check-up.
  • Consider phoning your local city hall or Public Security to report it, as they may have heard from the owner as well.

Things you should never do
  • Never advertise an unwanted pet “free to a good home.” Testing labs often get animals that way, SO do puppy mills and pitbull fighting rings
  • Never tie your dog up outside a store or shopping center. He may not be there when you come out.
  • Never run a dog alongside your bicycle on a leash. You have no way of being aware how tired they are getting and a sudden distraction could cause serious injury to both you and your pet. Run with your dog. It is healthier for both of you. You’ll know when you’ve BOTH had enough. Besides, they would rather relate to you than to your bike.
  • Never leave your dog or car in your car, ever, in the heat or cold. They can die from heat exposure or hypothermia.
  • Never give them small bones, balls or toys that may be accidentally swallowed. Keep the toy size relative to the size of their mouth.
  • Never encourage a puppy to playfully chew on your hands. That encourages nipping later.



  • Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, but most brands are poisonous if consumed. As little as two ounces of conventional antifreeze can kill a dog and only one teaspoon is enough to poison a cat. Should your pet ingest any amount of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Ice-melting chemicals can irritate and burn the pads of your pet’s feet and can cause serious injury if ingested.
  • Slap the hood of your vehicle before starting it. In their search to keep warm outdoors, cats often take refuge next to a warm car engine or tire.

Do you have an animal poison emergency?
Call a 24-hour veterinary diagnostic and treatment hotline:

All Year

  • Windshield wiper fluid is toxic to pets.
  • Houseplants can be toxic and even lethal to pets. For a list of plants to be concerned about check out (Animal Poison Control Center) at www.aspca.org
  • Many foods are toxic and even lethal to pets like chocolate, diet gum with xylitol.

People Foods Pets Should Never Eat

This list from the ASPCA Poison Control Center isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start. Share it with adopters and post it on your social media channels to help keep your community’s pets safer!

  • Chocolate, Caffeine
    These products all contain methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
  • Alcohol
    Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
  • Avocado
    The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.
  • Macadamia Nuts
    Macadamia nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
  • Grapes, Raisins
    Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.
  • Yeast
    Yeast dough can rise and cause gas in an animal’s digestive system. This can be painful and can even cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of daily caloric intake.
  • Raw meat, Eggs
    Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
  • Xylitol Sweetener
    Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia. Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
  • Onions, Garlic, Chives
    These pungent items can cause gastrointestinal irritation and lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but pets should not be given large quantities of these foods.
  • Milk
    Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
  • Salt
    Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Too much salt can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.