Have you lost or found a pet in Toronto? It would be nice if there was one central place that everyone in the city could use to reconnect animals with their families, but unfortunately that isn't yet the case. If you've lost a pet, there are a number of places and websites you should get in touch with and keep monitoring. And if you've found a pet, the more ways you spread the word, the better the chance of getting them back to their forever home.
Lost Pet: First Steps
No matter what kind of pet has gone missing from your home, in all cases the first step is the same - check the immediate area first. But if your pet has definitely left the vicinity, you can let your community know through word-of-mouth, flyers and posters. Ask to put up flyers at local high-traffic businesses, whether or not they are pet-centric. This could include:
- All local veterinary clinics (not just the one you usually use; your neighbours could take your pet to any clinic).
- Your nearest emergency vet clinic in Toronto. This may be where someone brings your pet if he or she is found injured.
- Pet supply stores, including independent businesses, and nearby Pet Valu locations.
- Doggie daycares, training and boarding centres.
- Coffee shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other local retailers.
You can also hand out flyers at Toronto's off-leash dog parks.
Check with Toronto Animal Services (TAS) Regularly
But even before you hit the streets with posters, you should contact Toronto Animal Services (TAS) at 416-338-PAWS (7297) to file a lost pet report. While staff will make efforts to let you know if your pet is there or comes in, the only way to be sure is to visit and keep revisiting each of the four TAS animal care centres in person.
You can also contact the Toronto Humane Society and the Etobicoke Humane Society to help spread the word, but note that neither will keep lost animals (they'll be turned over to Toronto Animal Services).
List on Pet-Oriented Websites
Helping Lost Pets is a map-based site that lists lost and found pets from across North America. You'll have to register for an account to use the site, but it's free to do so. You can then receive email alerts related to your own listing, and others in your neighbourhood. By signing up with the site before you lose a pet, you can have a profile for you pet ready to go, and help look for other lost animals in you community.
The Humane Society of Canada also has some lost and found listingson their website.
But Don't Forget Other Websites
Online Classifieds: Craigslist and Kijiji are general online classified sites which offer both "Pet" sections and Community Lost and Found sections. People may post about animals they have lost, found, or seen in any of these sections, so keep an eye on all of them. You can also use the search function, but don't be too specific (for example, many people won't know or won't include the breed if they're listing a found dog, so you shouldn't limit your search that way, either).
Facebook: There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to spreading the word about lost and found pets in the Greater Toronto Area. You can post about your lost pet on each page, and read what others have posted.
Also, be sure to create a post on Facebook for all of your friends. An image of the pet with information added as text makes it easy for people to share (try Picresize if you need a quick way to crop or edit a photo).
Twitter: Whatever online listings or page you create for your lost pet, don't forget to tweet about it using localized hashtags such as #toronto, as appropriate.
Keep Microchips and Licenses Up to Date
If you've had your dog or cat licensed in Toronto as required, that will help in your communications with Toronto Animal Services. Also, although microchipping pets in Toronto isn't usually mandatory, getting it done increases the chances a lost pet will be returned to you. If your microchipped pet does go missing, contact the microchip company immediately to be sure all of your contact information is up-to-date.
Follow-up When Your Pet is Found
Hopefully your pet will be safely back home with you quickly. When this happens, be sure to take down posters, flyers and online listings. This kind of follow-up helps keep people from acquiring "poster blindness" when it comes to lost pets, and clears the way for others to successfully spread the word about their own missing pets.
Updated by Jessica Padykula