How to make a Lost Pet Toolkit


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How to make a Lost Pet Toolkit

The Essential Tool Kit Every Pet Parent Needs

Experiencing a missing pet can be a traumatic experience for pet owners. Where to start looking and how to get your pet home as quickly as possible is top of mind when dealing with lost pets. Amidst the fear and helplessness, having a "Lost Pet Tool Kit" at your disposal can make a significant difference in your search and hopefully result in a found pet ASAP.

The PetHub team partnered with folks from NACA (National Animal Care & Control Association) to survey pet owners about the most effective ways to bring a lost dog home in as short a time as possible. Here's some key information on what to do based on how long your pet has been lost.

graphic on how to make a lost pet toolkit pinterest image

We've organized his essential kit based on the results found in our recent study. It's designed to streamline the process of finding lost pets, reducing panic, and hastening their safe return without a trip to the shelter.

In this article, we'll outline the best tools to have while looking for missing pets and why it's important for every pet parent to maintain these items in a quick and easy-to-find location.

What is a "Lost Pet Tool Kit?"

It is a collection of items that a person should have organized and ready to go in case their pet is lost. The goal of putting together this type of kit is to make it as easy as possible to quickly gather everything you need and start searching. We know that time is of the essence, and what tools are most effective for reuniting a lost pet can vary as time goes on, so knowing where to spend your time and attention is essential.

Meme of shepard type dog wearing a backpack and looking shocked

Why is it so Important? 

Physical searching, posting on social media, and neighborhood apps along with a visible ID tag are the most effective ways to bring a pet home in the first 24 hours! Our goal is to help bring lost dogs or cats home, leading to happy tails all around and avoiding a trip to shelters.

The stress of missing your beloved dog or other pets is overwhelming. A ready-to-go kit keeps you calm and organized, saving precious time in your search operation. Instead of scrambling to gather the essentials, you're immediately ready to get the word out to your local animal shelter, the pet's veterinarian, rescue groups, Facebook groups, and the community about the missing dog or cat.

What Items Should Be Included?

Communication Essentials

  • Portable cell phone charger: It is important to keep your cell phone charged so you can stay connected with others while looking for your lost pet. A portable charger can be used to provide the necessary power boost without the need for a break.

Boston terrier sitting next to a toy phone receiver

Visual Alerts

  • Car paint or markers: Use these to create visible alerts about your missing pet on your vehicle as you are physically searching the community.

Night Search Equipment

  • Powerful flashlight with extra batteries: Essential for safely conducting nighttime searches or in low-light areas.
  • Consider a headlamp to keep both hands free.

Attraction Aids

  • Wet, smelly food or treats: Using cans of cat or dog food can help attract your lost pet and guide them back home. Set some up near your house and check back frequently.

meme of a calico cat with its poking out of couch cushions

  • Whistle, bell, or clicker: If you've used any of these training tools with your pet, they can help attract your pet's attention.
  • Pet owners' used clothing or bedding in a plastic bag: Lost pets often search for familiarity. Your furry friend may be able to find its way back home if it recognizes your scent.

Pet Handling Supplies

  • Spare collar or harness and leash: A missing dog that is frightened may react differently than when they are home. Even if they normally walk loose without a leash, if they are confused or scared, they may flee. Carrying these items will help keep your doggo safe until you can get them home.
  • A well-stocked treat bag: If your pet is food motivated, having an easily accessible treat bag to help entice them may be helpful.

Safety and Comfort Items

  • First aid kits (both human & pet): Ensure the safety of both the searchers and the pet.
  • Bug spray & sunscreen: Protect yourself from bugs and sun during the search.
  • Water bottles and easy-to-eat snacks: Feed your search team to keep them energized! You'll also want to keep them hydrated. Granola bars and dried fruit are perfect for this!

Visual Identifiers

  • Copies of photos of your lost pet: It's helpful to have a current photo of your pet with you that you can share with neighbors.

White fluffy dog wearing a bandana sitting and looking at a smartphone while its photo is being taken

  • Current digital photo: It's important to also have a digital copy of your pet's photo readily available for use in flyers and posters.
  • Maps of your neighborhood: Useful for planning and organizing your search efforts.

Posting Materials

Remember, while physical posters are helpful, they are not as effective in reunification within the first 24 hours of a pet being lost. Make sure you focus on searching your community, neighboring communities and posting on social media about lost pets first.

  • Staple gun with extra staples, clear tape, and tacks: These items will aid you in posting flyers around your neighborhood.
  • Clipboard with paper and pens: Stay organized while searching. Take notes and make plans to revisit those folks in your neighborhood that seemed helpful and willing to help with the search.

Flyer Supplies

  • Plastic sleeves for flyers (start with 200): Keep your flyers safe from damage caused by weather conditions.
  • Paper for printing flyers: Create a template for your flyer on your computer, using a picture of your pet and including your contact information. When the need arises, you can simply fill in the details of when and where the pet was lost.
  • Neon poster boards, highlighters, markers, and pens: To make your flyers more effective, include the word "REWARD" at the top of each poster to grab people's attention.

meme of a cat holding a cell phone making a lost pet poster with a reward offering for it to be kept

Pro Tip: Skip the work and use PetHub's Lost Pet poster template. They're FREE! Just visit your pet's PetHub profile to get started and aid you in your search.

Maintaining Your Tool Kit

Give your kit a quick review periodically, ideally every three months. Ensure that the contact information listed is current and your pet's photo is recent.

Frenchie sitting outside wearing a black harness and PetHub Get Me Home Club Tag

It's also crucial to replace any items that may have expired, such as canned food, people and animal treats, or bottled water (who wants stale granola bars or pet treats - yuck!).

The Importance of Preparedness in Pet Safety

Experiencing the loss of a pet can be one of the most distressing experiences for pet owners. It's why PetHub created National Lost Pet Prevention Month over a decade ago.

Having a well-prepared, fully stocked lost pet toolkit on hand can significantly ease the process, helping you to act quickly and efficiently with minimal panic.

Proactive Pet Parenting: Preparing for the Unexpected

Pet parents, it's time to take proactive measures and prepare for the "just in case" scenarios.

Losing a pet can be a stressful experience, but there are many effective strategies for finding lost pets.

By taking proactive measures and being prepared ahead of time, pet owners can act quickly and efficiently during a distressing situation, increasing the likelihood of being reunited with their furry family members.