Help! My Dog, Cat Or Rabbit Is Lost

Updated July 24, 2021

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care

If Your Pet Is Missing In Adelaide

  1. Check your pet’s microchip registration details are up to date
  2. Notify the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League
  3. Ring the nearby local councils and vets
  4. Post a recent picture to the lost pets Facebook pages
  5. Print fliers, post a free Gumtree lost ad and consider a paid Facebook ad

Now dive deeper.

lost dog
Own work by Nikola B Flickr via license

Here is a summary of what you need to do to find a lost dog, lost cat or indeed any missing pet animal species. Just like in missing persons, the sooner you act the greater the chance of success.

If you have had the foresight to get your pet a microchip implant, then there is no reason to panic. When your pet reaches a shelter, someone will scan the chip and as long as the details registered to the chip are accurate, you will be quickly reunited.

We’ve never seen a microchip fail to work unless the pet doesn’t get scanned. That’s called stealing: it’s rare but read one example here.

What To Do If You Lose Your Pet

  • Get out your microchip registration paperwork and check the address and telephone numbers you supplied. If you know or suspect the details are incorrect, contact the database or update them online. It is also a good idea to notify the database that your pet is missing. If you have lost the papers and can’t remember which database, don’t worry. There are several, but they can access all the others. At Walkerville Vet we only use Australian Animal Registry.
  • Contact the local council, and all surrounding councils where it is possible your pet could have strayed. If they have found or will find your pet, you will hear from them quickly. Additionally, if a resident calls them to report a found dog, they may be able to get you directly in touch with the finder. While on the phone, ask your council’s policy on where found animals are taken and for how long they are held (see more re this below)
  • Contact the veterinarians within a logical radius of the site of loss plus the after-hours emergency vets. If your pet has been injured, they will very likely be taken to one of these. Also, many people who find a stray animal go first to the local vet instead of calling the council ranger.
  • Contact the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League to report your loss and enquire about the animals currently being held. Once unidentified pets reach these shelters, they only have 72 hours before being rehomed or euthanased. Very importantly remember that your description may not be the same as theirs regarding age and breed. For this reason it’s a good idea to make a personal inspection visit if there are any dogs or cats who sound even remotely like your pet.
  • Place a post with a recent photo on the Facebook pages Lost Dogs of Adelaide and Lost Pets of South Australia. Place a free ad in Gumtree Pets Lost & Found and the Animal Welfare Lost Pets page.
  • Print a flier with a large picture and distribute it throughout the area where your pet could have strayed. The problem can sometimes be that the person who finds the pet doesn’t notify the appropriate organisations so this will help locally.
  • Facebook ads are really worth considering too. They are cheap and can be accurately targeted to a certain demographic within a set radius around your home.
  • If your pet is wearing a bluetooth tracker, mark it as ‘lost’ to receive notifications if it is found

These days most local councils do not have facilities to hold animals. The majority will send animals directly to the Animal Welfare League. The exceptions are:

  • Campbelltown City Council has its own pound facility where dogs are held for three days before being sent to the AWL.
  • Eastern suburbs councils such as Norwood, Payneham & St Peters send dogs to All Pets Boarding Village. (Mt Osmond) where they stay for four days, before being sent to the AWL.

Many councils either post found animals on their website or keep a list at their reception desk. While these are worth checking, they will not be updated out of hours or on weekends, so checking at the shelters is likely to produce a faster result.

Good Luck. And please make sure once you’ve found your lost pet, you remove the online ads, fliers, and notify the places you rang.

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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.