What to do if You Have Lost Your Dog

Losing a pet can be distressing. But don’t lose heart. Stay calm and follow the steps recommended by SF Animal Care & Control to help you find your animal:

Conduct A Search

Talk to your neighbors, especially the children who play in the neighborhood. Go door to door. Leave your name, address and telephone number plus a complete description of your animal. Search in the evenings when it’s quiet. Call or whistle. If your pet is injured or frightened, he may be hiding. Drive slowly around your neighborhood; sometimes a dog will recognize the sound of your car. Do keep in mind that cats sometimes climb into cars, and are transported miles away before jumping out.

Please visit the Pet Harbor website to view current lost and available animals at San Francisco Animal Care & Control. This information is updated twice daily.

Visit Shelters

Visit the San Francisco Animal Shelter at 15th and Harrison Streets. You must go in person, because only you can identify your pet. Look through all of the cages, and ask to see any injured or sick animals. Be sure to go every day. The Shelter holds stray animals for 4-5 days. After that, they may become available for adoption. Leave a written report at the Animal Shelter. Keep checking. Your pet may not be found for several weeks.

Call SFACC’s Lost Pet Hotline for a recorded message and a partial listing of animals impounded. Dial Lost Pet (567-8738).

Visit all the private shelters in San Francisco and neighboring communities. You can get a list of these shelters from Animal Care and Control.

Post Signs

Make a poster to alert people to be on the lookout for your lost pet. Place copies of the poster within twenty block radius of where the animal was lost. Put them up on local community bulletin boards, in grocery stores, etc.

A black and white photo will reproduce better than a color one. If you don’t have a photo, try to get a picture from a breed book to give people a rough idea of what your animal looks like.

If your pet is an unusual breed, or is a mutt, you should write the breed the animal looks like most (e.g., looks like Lab-type dog, looks like short hair Siamese). Never write “mutt” or “mongrel” for a dog. Ordinary cats can be described best as “domestic short hair”, “domestic medium hair”, etc. Only the main colors of the animal should be included. Don’t try to be too descriptive; you want anyone who thinks they may have seen your pet to call.

Fill in your name and phone number on each of the small tabs at the bottom of the poster. If you don’t have an answering machine, give a home and a work number, or list hours that you will be home, so that the caller will be sure to reach you. Cut the tabs on the dotted lines, so that if someone has seen your pet, he or she can easily tear off the tab with your name and phone number.

Please observe all laws regarding the legal posting of flyers as per Public Works Code Sec.184.57, ARTICLE 5.6: POSTING OF SIGNS ON CITY-OWNED PUBLIC PROPERTY PROHIBITED.

If Someone Calls You About Your Pet

Try to get a positive identification on your animal from the caller. Have specific details in mind (a scar or peculiar feature) that will identify your animal from a similar one. Do not put all details on your poster. There are extortionists who will claim to have your pet. Think of a special question that only someone with your pet will be able to answer. If you offer a reward, make sure you have your animal back before you turn over the money.

Reclaiming Lost Pets

All stray animals are held for a minimum of 96 hours. The fees to redeem your animal from the shelter are as follows:

Redemption fees for all animals: $28 first impound, $56 second impound, $84 for third impound.

In addition, there is a state fine for unaltered animals as follows: $35 first impound, $50 second impound, $100 third impound, $11 per vaccination and $12 keep per day.

The owner of an impounded dog must purchase a San Francisco dog license if the dog is not currently licensed. There are also fees for any veterinary services that may be provided to an animal while in SFACC’s care. When an animal is redeemed the owner can also purchase a microchip (for only $10) or request that their animal be spayed or neutered.

Remember, don’t get discouraged, it may take several weeks to find your pet.