Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience. If you're pet has been microchipped, you have a very good chance of being reunited. Call your veterinarian and/or the microchip company right away to make sure the microchip's contact information is up-to-date.

Next, contact the animal welfare agency that handles strays for the area where you live and/or where your pet was lost. Below are a list of animal welfare agencies and the areas they handle strays for.

Seattle Animal Control: (206) 386-PETS

King County Animal Control, Kent: (206) 296-7387 Serves Algona, Auburn, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Maple Valley, Normandy Park, Pacific, SeaTac, Tukwila, Vashon Island, White Center, un-incorporated areas of Renton

King County Animal Control, Bellevue (Crossroads): (206) 296-3940 Serves Baring, Beaux Arts, Bellevue, Bothell, Carnation, Clyde Hill, Duvall, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend, Redmond, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, Woodinville, Yarrow Point

Seattle Humane Society: (425) 641-0080

In addition to contacting the appropriate agency, the Seattle Humane Society recommends taking the following steps if your pet is lost:

- Begin your search immediately. The longer you wait the harder success will come.

- Cover at least a 20 block area around your home. A dog or cat can wander miles in just a day.

- Call your pet's name loudly and often. In-between, listen carefully for a faint bark or meow that may indicate your curious friend is trapped somewhere.

- Contact all the animal shelters in your county and surrounding counties. A finder may take your pet to the local shelter or he may go to one that is farther away. Because your description may vary from that of the center's staff and because most shelters are required to keep an animal for at least 3 days after intake, be prepared to visit each agency at least once every day to view all the animals there, including those in holding or isolation (sick or injured pets).

- Advertise in your local papers. Offer a reward, to stimulate interest. Run your ad for at least two weeks. Read the Lost & Found columns daily to see if someone has found your pet.

- Talk to people, especially kids or those adults with an established neighborhood route (i.e. mail carriers, meter readers, UPS drivers, etc.) and show them a photograph of your pet.

- Make a Wanted poster. Write in large block print and attach a recent photo or rough sketch of your pet. Include the following information: Breed, age, color(s), when/where lost, your phone number, and a reward if possible.

- Leave a poster at each agency you contacted.

- Hang your sign everywhere in the 20 block radius around your home, i.e. community bulletin boards, grocery stores, schools, meeting halls, etc.

- Visit all veterinary hospitals and schools in your area. Leave a poster.

- Be imaginative in your search. In addition to yards, streets, parks and woods, try searching in shopping centers, school grounds, construction sites, abandoned buildings and crawl spaces. Leave an item of your personal clothing in your front and back yards.

- Use your car in your search. Many dogs and some cats recognize the sound of the family car. Visit your dog's favorite spots.

- Try taking your dog's best canine buddy along on your search. He might very well see, hear, and smell what you cannot.

Warning: Don't let your emotions override your common sense when it comes to offering a reward. Some so-called finders collect a fortune in rewards for lost pets they haven't found. Protect yourself. Never pay reward money or any shipping costs without viewing a clear photograph of the found pet.

Information courtesy of Seattle Humane Society.

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