Pets are family, so it can be devastating if they go missing. Read on to learn how you can prevent man’s best friend from getting lost, and the steps you can take if you ever need to locate a missing furry family member.
Lost Pet Prevention
There are multiple steps you can take to prevent your pet from becoming lost. Some include:
- Have your cat or dog wear a collar with a registered ID tag. You can get a pet license at the Chesapeake Treasurer’s Office.
- Microchip your pet. Microchipped animals have a much higher chance of being reunited with their families. The microchip gives your pet its own code, which can be scanned at a vet or shelter and matched to an owner’s contact information. It does not act as a GPS or tracker.
- If taking pets on a walk, always use a leash. Do not let them roam.
- Keep your pet safely confined to your house or fenced yard. Do not leave your home while your pet is still outside, and do not leave your pet unattended.
- If you are trying to prevent pet theft, put a lock on your gate to keep unauthorized persons from entering your yard and removing your pet. You should also randomize the times you let your pet outside, so your schedule cannot be tracked.
- Take lots of photos of your pet! If your pet ever goes missing, these photos can be used on lost flyers, ads, and posts. The photos can also be left at local animal shelters to help identify your pet as yours.
What To Do if Your Pet is Currently Lost
Visit the Chesapeake Animal Services Unit in person to file a lost pet report. To file a lost pet report, a photo of your pet is required. The shelter is located at 2100 S Military Hwy, Chesapeake, VA 23320. Hours of operation are:
- 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, and Friday
- Noon – 4 p.m. Wednesday
- 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
- The shelter closes on holidays.
Note: Always visit the shelter in person. Most shelters do not take lost reports by telephone or without a photo, nor can they confirm or deny animal pickups over the phone. You may want to visit shelters outside of your city as well, because pets are often found miles away from the place where they were lost. If they have roamed that far, they may have been turned in to shelters in a completely different city.
After you file a lost pet report, you can do the following:
- Visit all the local shelters in person to look for your pet every 2 to 3 days.
- Post online on popular lost and found Facebook groups such as Lost & Found Pets, Hampton Roads, VA. You can also post on Nextdoor and PawBoost.
- Please be aware of lost pet scams.
- Be wary of pet theft for extortion. Any such attempt to extort money from you should be immediately reported to the Animal Services Unit/Police Department by calling 757-382-6161.
- Never meet any person alone who attempts to extort money from you for the return of your pet. You may agree to appease that person, but make sure you are accompanied by a police officer or animal control officer.
- Create a simple photo flyer for distribution at your local neighborhood grocery stores, veterinary hospitals, grooming parlors, pet stores, and shelters.
- Ask your neighbors and their children to keep an eye out for your pet. You can also ask your mail carrier, newspaper carrier, meter reader, etc.
- To view the strays picked up by an Animal Control, you can visit the Strays in Custody page. It is still best to visit the shelters in person.
Once You Find Your Pet
After you have successfully found your pet, notify the shelters, your neighbors, and anyone else who may still be helping in the search. Remove all lost flyers and update social media posts with your good news. You should also take the previously stated steps to reduce the chances of this happening again.
If you need to redeem your pet at the shelter, you can view the redemption fees and requirements on the Stray, Lost, Sick page. Chesapeake Animal Services will require that you come to the shelter and provide a City license, a rabies number, a pictured ID, and payment for redemption fees if required. Special circumstances are handled on a case-by-case basis.
If You Find Someone’s Pet
Please never ignore a pet that may need your help. Check the pet for identification, such as a pet ID tag on a collar. Call the phone number on the collar if one is listed. You can also visit a shelter or a veterinarian near you to have the pet scanned for a microchip, which holds identifying information. Check social media posts on Nextdoor, Pawboost, or local lost and found Facebook groups. If you cannot find the owner or keep the pet at your own house, turn the animal in to the shelter. This is likely where the owner will search for their pet. The shelter will hold the animal for a minimum of five days, and if it is not claimed, the pet will go up for adoption.
For further information call the Chesapeake Animal Services Unit at 757-382-8080 or read the FAQ.