Please follow this to get your pet home
If you do this, you may not have to hire Dog Haus. PLEASE do not take advice from the social justice warriors or crazy animal people calling you. Some are correct, but most have some very bad advice that will get your pet killed. Tell me- would you take advice from Jim Bob who tells you what to do about your missing kid? No, you take the advice of police or FBI. Do the right thing, your pet is counting on you.
These instructions may change as lost pet behavior can evolve and humans do more and more reckless things. This is lengthy but it contains everything you need to know and do.
1) Visit local pound* EVERYDAY, become a nuisance to them! Pounds with good intentions will not mind that you come every day, it's their job to reunite a pet with the owner. It is your legal right to inspect a pound when your pet is lost. An owner's description of pet may very much differ from an ACO (or a reported sighting for that matter). Unfortunately, pets have been euthanized because of miscommunications. An ACO forgot to write down a person was looking for a pet, the description was subjective or... the microchip number was copied wrong. Even if the ACO tells you no new animals came in, they should allow you to visit, there's no harm for allowing a distressed pet owner to visit, it can only help.
2) Go to other area pounds and shelters as your pet may have wandered to another area (or a finder brought pet outside of area).
3) Look for your pet immediately! Do not wait! If you hear that your pet is hiding out in an area and still not caught, you may need to hire animal control or a pet trapper. Pets on the run become very frightened. Having another pet with you while looking for your pet may be helpful. Also dogs that are frightened to be "caught" calm down when another pet is present. It also allows them to be distracted enough to be caught. DO NOT CHASE (even your own pet)! Please check our facebook page for anedotes (on well intentioned people/finders, mistakened strays, transformation from owned pet to stray, microchip reunions).
4) Post flyers, get the word out, call police and animal control, groomers. Let area vets know you have lost a pet. Social media is your friend! but it can also can hurt. Do not encourage volunteers to search for your pet, it may result in your pet's death. Do not post location that pet was lost from or where last seen. Just post town. If it's a broad area, can say "ran off from Legacy Park", however do not do this unless there's been NO sightings there. Otherwise, people flock to area and your pet will leave that area. People will actually go to area that your pet was last seen and hunt your pet. This will send your pet into hiding and out of area. When posting on social media, include your phone number in post, do not rely on someone contacting you through that social media platform. Make sure your post is public so that it can be shared. Do not post a reward as there are too many negatives to it. That's a whole other discussion, see Dog Haus Pet & AC facebook for lost & recovery stories. Flyers need to be done right. If you just post legal sized copies around town, it may be a waste, your pet is counting on you. Too many times, flyers are put up that no one sees, it has happened many times for pets that I get involved with. Post flyers the correct way. Include one picture that shows your pet clearly. Do not use an old photo because your pet looks great right from the groomer. I have seen too many pets that did not match the picture on Lost poster, the pet that was recovered had lots of grey on muzzle and the picture they posted was a dog with little or no grey muzzle. Do not post a picture with adornments, this is only distracting. Use color photo without a filter, remember, it must be an accurate depiction. Correct signage instructions and a word about rewards. Only include the missing pet in photo, nothing else, including children!!! Signage should say "LOST" not "Missing". When your pet is found, you MUST take down all flyers, posters. Keep a list of where you put them up. If you had help, the helpers need to keep a list. If you keep up these signs, you are doing a disservice to all lost pets. Any future pets that are lost will not get any attention because you failed to take down your signs. Why should anyone pay attention to the dozen or so signs on trees or utility poles? Many towns have sign ordinances, most towns ignore the lost pet signs, but when you abuse this privilege , you hurt all pets.
5) Hopefully your pet is microchipped, make sure the number is registered and the info is up to date. If you didn't register until your pet is lost some pets are not returned because ACOs don't check again to see if chip gets registered, so it's even more important to get the word out that your pet is lost. Depending on registry, the master database may not show the microchip has been registered until after the 7 day hold (NJ law requires that pets found as stray be held for 7 days). I have heard of people not wanting to register a microchip until pet is lost! The fee for AKCCAR is under 20.00 I believe. It is lifetime. Even for the more expensive registry services (like Home Again's service), if you decide to not renew this service (the 25 yearly fee), the microchip number is still in their system, it's just that you can not access the "extras" which is not related to the chip number being registered. Many do not understand that a microchip is just a tiny device (size of a grain of rice) that has a long serial code associated with it. It is NOT a GPS, It is NOT LOJACK or Onstar. You can liken it to a vehichle's VIN. It is only associated with your pet. That number has to come back to you, the owner. If you got a pet that has a registered microchip, you must change ownership and register as pet owner. Otherwise (and many times the case), the original owner has no idea who is current owner. Think about it as this: a car is sold and the buyer never registers the car, the seller did not fill out the title properly and when car is stolen or found, it will come back to original owner. When a microchipped pet is sold or given away, the microchip paperwork needs to be signed so that the new owner can register. Otherwise, old owner can claim possesion (rarely happens). A microchip is also the best way to claim ownership of a pet (in instances not related to lost pets).
6) In the area your pet was lost, find out if there are any cat colonies or if a stray cat is being fed. A lost pet may buddy up with that animal since they are being fed (more than likely just eat the food), but check with colony managers as they see things that others don't. If there are any eateries or dumpsters that food is being thrown out (school's cafeteria, megaemployer, mall, farm, anywhere there is a food source) check that area, find out if any sightings, place flyers in that area.
I do not have a list of towns and which municipal animal control agency or private company has the contract, as sometimes it changes quite often. Call your police department if it's an emergency and they will contact animal control. If it's a non emergency or if the police department says they have no one (every town in NJ must have an animal control officer pursuant to 4:19-15.16b but sometimes some companies / health departments did not renew a contract and the town has no coverage- it's a violation of the law but....) contact your health department to find out who has jurisdiction.
Numbers for animal control that are contracted with area NJ towns:*** contracted towns change- this is only a guide**
All Humane Animal Rescue 973-616-8569 (Garfield NJ and some towns in Passaic County)
Bergen County Animal Control 201-229-4600 (Bergen County and some of Hudson)
Bloomingdale AC 973-838-2220
Clifton AC 973-470-5761
Parsippany Animal Control 973-263-7083 (Parsippany and surrounding towns)
Paterson AC 973-881-3640
Tyco 201-652-4554 (Bergen County and area counties)
Wayne Animal Control 973-694-9295 (Wayne NJ and surrounding towns)
There are other animal control companies. If you call a company because your health deprtment or police dept told you to call a specific number and AC say they do not have contract, you must find out who does (because municipalities change companies to the lowest bidder, it changes often). It is not the job of the AC company to find out who currently has the contract, your health dept must know, that is one of the functions of the health dept. Sometimes police still have old information and have been referring animal control calls to old provider (and old provider will still help out because animals will suffer if no one takes calls). In NJ, police and animal control are different, they are not the same. Sometimes there are miscommunications between the two because they are different government entities.
Lastly, if you must resort to trapping, feeding stations, it needs to be done by professionals. You may have the best intentions, but you can run into lots of problems if you do it on your own. For instance: an animal gets trapped that is not your pet or it's wildlife!- what are you going to do? You may create a nuisance or emergency. You may get bitten or scratched then require rabies shots, tetanus shot, antibiotics, hospitailazation and possibly fines, summons, court, all the while your pet is still not caught. It's possible that a trap can catch a pet's tail or limb if used improperly or the wrong trap is used. Monitoring traps- if an animal is caught and in for too long a time, you can be cited for animal cruelty (besides harming the animal and needing veterinary care). Feeding stations: hear of too many times that people just put food down!?!? very likely you are feeding other animals. You do not just put food down and your pet comes to it and "viola"- pet caught. "Feeding stations" may be a violation of local law. Authorities have every right to cite you for feeding strays and wildlife.
Here's a few websites that will help you find your LOST pet, additionally, these sites will allow you to post if you FOUND a pet. When your pet is found, change status to FOUND.
*Pound- animal shelter that harbors strays/running at large animals.