Lost & Found Pets


Losing a pet is extremely frightening, the first tip is to not panic. According to the National Lost Pet Survey, 93% of dogs who are lost are successfully recovered. There are concrete steps you can take to effectively recover your pet, but you must also be mindful to tailor your search to your specific pet. How do they respond when people yell or run straight at them? Are they aloof? Will they respond to their name? Swift action, coupled with major neighborhood networking, will increase the odds of recovering your animal. A major factor is to get the word out and not be shy in enlisting help. We have adapted tips from ASPCA, Maddie’s Fund, and Mission Reunite to give an overview of best practice for recovering your animal.

Step 1: If you did not see your pet run off, search your home and talk to neighbors first

  • As soon as you notice your pet is missing, talk to your family members or housemates and ask where they last saw your pet.
  • Search your home carefully—under beds, in closets, dark places, small places, behind bulky furniture.
  • Shaking a food dish, treat jar or favorite toy will sometimes lure animals out of a hiding place.

If you are sure your pet is not in or around the home, take a slow ride or walk around your neighborhood. Bring along a recent photo of your pet and ask neighbors if they’ve seen him or her. Check under porches and shrubs, and ask neighbors to check in sheds and garages in case your pet was accidentally locked in.

 Step 2: Make phone calls & check your local shelters

  • Calls should be made to the local animal control agencies, veterinary hospitals, shelters (both municipal and private) and rescue groups in your area. One of them may already have your pet in custody.
  • If your pet has a microchip, the company should be contacted immediately to be notified your pet is lost and to check to make sure your contact information is up to date.


Check in with shelters daily—and pay these visits in person with photos of your pet to distribute to shelter staff. If there are no shelters close to your home, notify your local sheriff or police department. It’s important for owners that have lost their pets to check the Animal Care & Control lost/found page on their website daily as new animals are brought in at all hours of each day. If you think you might have found your pet online, PLEASE go to the shelter to see them in person. Bring proof of ownership with you just in case the pet you saw online is yours so CMPD Animal Care & Control can expedite the reclaim process. (It’s also a good idea to check the AC&C Facebook page for new found pet flyers.)

 Step 3: Network on Social Media

  • Be sure to share the news with your social media networks. We are happy for you to share your lost poster on our Facebook page.  You should also email our partners at CMPD Animal Care & Control at accfacebook6@gmail.com and they will be posted on the AC&C Facebook page as soon as possible.
  • Most communities have local “Lost Pet” Facebook pages where they will post information about missing pets (ex. Lost & Found Dogs – North Carolina, the Lost and Found Pets-Charlotte group page, and Craig’s list). Reach out to those page administrators and see if they will share information about your pet. Post on your local Nextdoor neighborhood page, FindingRover.com, Pawboost.com, petharbor.com, as well as other sites to ensure you are casting the widest net possible. Ask friends and family to spread the word to their contacts as well.

Step 4: Create a “Lost Pet” Poster

You’ll want to create a poster that will stand out and get noticed by people who may have seen your pet. Please be sure to tailor these posters to your pet. Avoid putting misleading phrases on the poster: “very sweet” or “loves treats”. Your animal is in a new and strange environment and may not act as they normally would at home. You want to encourage people assisting you in the search to approach your dog appropriately. Example: If your dog is shy around strangers say “Shy! DO NOT CHASE”.

Repeated viewings of a consistent message are more likely to stick in people’s minds, so we recommend sticking with one design for your poster.According to Maddie’s Fund, people driving in cars typically don’t pay attention to signs. You have only five seconds using five-seven words to get a message across. Most pet owners make the mistake of posting standard flyers (8 1/2″ x 11″ white pieces of paper) instead of posters. Flyers are too small and very few people passing by notice them. People notice neon posters. Start with a big, bold headline that people can read from a distance, like “LOST DOG”

  • Include a clearly printed, recent photo of your pet and list the breed, sex, coloring, age, weight, any distinguishing features and when and where he or she was last seen.
  • Provide your name and two phone numbers: yours and a backup number

 Step 5: Blanket the Neighborhood

Good places to post your flyers include dog parks and runs, pet supply stores, pet grooming shops, and local veterinary and ER clinics. Various commercial establishments like grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, laundromats, bars, cafes, and restaurants are other good high-traffic options.

Step 6: Don’t Give Up!

This one is important! Remember that 93% of dogs lost are successfully recovered, don’t give up hope that your dog will also be recovered.

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If you have found a stray dog or cat and wish to retain the pet in your home and provide care while actively seeking the owner, you may do so BUT you are required to fill out CMPD Animal Care & Control’s found report listed at the bottom of this page link, or call 311 to file a found report. This report will be sent to Animal Care & Control staff and be placed into their found pet book at the shelter. In both the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County ordinances, the definition of owners means: “any person owning, keeping, having charge of sheltering, feeding, harboring or taking care of any animal for 14 or more consecutive days unless the animal is boarded for a fee”. You must advertise the animal as found for 14 days before you can take legal ownership of the animal.

  •  Microchipping is one of the best ways in reuniting a pet with their owner and urge you to take the pet to a local veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. We can also scan an animal here at the Humane Society of Charlotte.  If you are unable to transport the animal to a veterinarian, call 311 and ACC will send an officer to your home to scan the animal for a microchip.  Low-cost microchipping is available every Wednesday 9am-2pm at our HSC Spay/Neuter Clinic located at 2646 Toomey Avenue.
  • In Mecklenburg County, only 3.4% of stray cats surrendered to the municipal shelter are returned to their owners. Many cat owners allow their cats to roam freely outside, so some roaming cats are not lost and likely live nearby. Unless the cat looks sick, malnourished, or is injured, it is often best to allow the cat to find her own way home or keep an eye open for any LOST CAT signs from neighbors.
  • Owner’s that have lost their pets should check local newspapers in the classified ads section, local bulletin boards, AC&C Facebook page in the found picture album, and national lost/found pet websites to see if anyone has posted their pets in the found sections. (Three common lost/found sites to share your lost flyers and look for found pets: Lost & Found Dogs – North Carolina, Lost and Found Pets-Charlotte group page, CMPD Animal Care & Control, and Craig’s list). Another great resource is the local community app, NextDoor, which is specific to your neighborhood.
  •  In some cases, lost pet reports are created and sent to Facebook as well as our local shelter. You may go to the AC&C shelter at 8315 Byrum Dr., Charlotte NC 28217 to check the lost animal reports.

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 130A-192 requires “If the animal is a dog or cat, the finder or approved rescue organization shall hold the animal for the 72-hour holding period provided for in subsection (a) of this section or such longer holding period that may be applicable to the shelter by ordinance or local rule”.

If you are unable to retain the lost pet in your home, please call 311 and CMPD Animal Care & Control will send an officer to your home to pick up the animal; or you may bring the lost pet to Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control, located at 8315 Byrum Dr., Charlotte NC 28217. The Humane Society of Charlotte is unable to shelter lost or stray animals.

If the pet has not been reunited with its’ owner after the 72 hours in shelter holding period or the 14 days in home holding period: you may continue holding the pet or you may contact the Humane Society of Charlotte/other area rescue organizations who may assist with alternative placement, or you may bring the pet to the AC&C shelter who will attempt every method possible in creating a positive outcome.