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San Diego Humane Society

How to Find Your Lost Pet

As a pet parent, one of the most frightening moments you may experience is when you realize your pet is lost.

The panic that follows this realization can make it hard to think clearly about what you should do next. So we’ve gathered a list of helpful, immediate actions you can take to ensure you have the best possible chance of being reunited with your beloved pet.

Helpful Steps to Finding Your Lost Pet


Contact and visit San Diego Humane Society and other animal shelters in your surrounding area to see if someone has filed a Found Pet Report for your animal.

San Diego Humane Society

San Diego Humane Society provides lost and found services for the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.
Call 619-299-7012 or email, for more information.

Serving Escondido, San Marcos and Poway
619-299-7012, EXT. 2737

Serving Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Oceanside, Solana Beach and Vista
619-299-7012, EXT. 2854

Serving Imperial Beach, San Diego and Santee
619-299-7012, EXT. 2257

Outside San Diego Humane Society's Jurisdiction

If you live outside of the above cities, please see this page for a list of other organizations that provide lost and found services in your area. Here is a Jurisdiction Chart by zip code to help you know who can help you. You should start with the shelter that covers the area your pet was last seen.

File a Lost Pet Report: 

Call San Diego Humane Society at 619-299-7012 and other shelters in surrounding cities to file a “Lost Pet Report.” You will be asked to provide pictures of the animal. If your animal is microchipped, contact your microchip company to report your animal missing and update your contact information if it is not up to date.

Search the Database of Found Animals:

Search our website for found animals. If your pet has been missing for a while, also search our Available for Adoption page. Found pets are available for adoption after the stray hold period required by law.

Continue Walking Your Neighborhood: 

Continue searching your neighborhood thoroughly. Pets often become scared and simply find a hiding spot and stay put. Use a flashlight to look under every deck, shed, porch or any other place your pet may hide. Also, be sure to get your neighbor’s permission before searching their yard. Call San Diego Humane Society and other shelters and check shelter websites – your pet may show up after you called or searched the first time.

Create and Distribute a Lost Pet Flyer: 

Use these templates to create a “Lost Pet” flyer and post it at:

Lost Cat Poster Template Lost Dog Template

  • Local veterinarian hospitals or clinics
  • Pet stores
  • Coffee shops
  • Regional lost and found Facebook pages, Nextdoor and Craigslist under the lost/found community page
  • Local newspapers

Lost Pet Resource Checklist:

Help Your Pet Get Home

Microchip your pet and always keep a current identification tag on them. If your dog or cat wears a tag that has his or her name, your name, full address and phone number, your lost pet will stand a better chance of getting home. Your pet's I.D. tag is the best ticket home! Remember to update your pet's tag and microchip when you move. And be sure to keep a current photo of your pet in case he or she ever becomes lost. It is important to always keep a current rabies and license tag on your pet, in accordance with local laws. San Diego County requires that all dogs are licensed and that they are vaccinated for rabies. 

Finding Rover App

If the pet you lost is a dog, download this free app immediately. Finding Rover is a facial recognition app that reunites lost dogs with their owners. Photos of dogs that are found or admitted to participating shelters are stored in the app’s database. Every time a pet parent posts a photo of a dog they’ve lost, Finding Rover scans its database and provides possible matches and necessary contact information within seconds.


Check with local animal shelters

Local shelters like San Diego Humane Society and Department of Animal Services have an online form to fill out if you’ve lost a pet. This enables the shelter to check its current and future animal inventory specifically for the pet you’ve lost.

Post flyers

Posting hardcopy and online (i.e. Craigslist or The Center for Lost Pets) flyers is a great way to get a visual of your lost pet out in the local area where he or she has likely wandered into. Be sure to include a large, updated photo of your dog on the flyer along with two forms of contact information for reaching you. Since stray animals are often brought to local veterinary offices for a microchip scan or medical care, posting flyers there as well is a good idea. While you’re out and about posting, keep an eye out for flyers of “found” animals. One of them may be your pet!

Alert your neighbors

Let your neighbors know your pet is missing. If they aren’t familiar with what your pet looks like, show them a picture or give them one of the flyers you created. It helps to have extra sets of eyes out in the community to look for your pet.

Walk the perimeter

Sometimes, pets can flee their homes out of fear to look for a safe place to hide. Other times, curiosity or reproductive drive can cause a pet to wander around the community. Regardless of why you believe your pet may have left home, walk the perimeter of your neighborhood to conduct a visual search for your animal. Be sure to check tucked away places where an animal may feel safe, such as crawl spaces, behind dumpsters or underneath cars. Lost animals may also respond to familiar sounds like your voice. So while you search, periodically call out their name and jingle their favorite toy or leash. The good news is, with today’s technology, there’s a good chance your lost pet will be returned to you. You can optimize these chances by making sure your pet is microchipped with your up-to-date contact information.

Search Pets That Have Been Found

This database displays animals that have been reported to San Diego Humane Society as FOUND.

San Diego Humane Society only holds pets found in the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.

Visit this Jurisdiction Chart for further information on which organization handles animal control in your city.

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