What to Do if Your Pet Goes Missing

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on April 1, 2015.

Sugar was last seen around 9 a.m. on Monday, February 23 at East 26th Street between 2nd & 3rd Ave in Manhattan. By noon that same day, she was missing — and her owners Morgan and Scott have been searching for her ever since.

If you’ve ever lost a pet, even for a moment, you know that feeling of absolute dread and hopelessness. It’s a feeling no pet owner ever wants to experience.

Just over a month since her disappearance, Sugar, a spayed female Pit Bull mix rescued from a shelter, became arguably the most wanted dog in America.

Sugar’s parents launched a massive social media campaign including a Facebook pagewith over 20,000 fans and a downloadable lost dog flyer. They even tell you where to post them. Then there’s Twitter and Tumblrand, of course, a hashtag: #FINDSUGARNYC.

The outpouring of public support they’ve received is impressive. As one writer put it, “The internet has your back Sugar, and it will stop at nothing to bring you safely home to your family.”

But despite the tremendous effort Sugar’s owners have put into finding her and the community’s supportive response to the call for action, there’s still no sign of Sugar — at least not yet.

No one knows for certain what happened to her; just that she was in the care of a dog sitter when she went missing, and owner Morgan has reason to believe Sugar may have been sold into a dog fighting ring.

The ASPCA explains this sad truth:

Despite being wonderful companion animals, Pit Bulls often attract the worst kind of dog owners — those who are only interested in them for fighting or protection. It’s a shame what has happened to this loyal and affectionate breed.

Even though dog fighting is a felony offense in all 50 states, people are still training and breeding Pit Bulls to participate in dog fights, and organized dog fights take place in many parts of the country. The ASPCA estimates– based on fight reports in underground dog fighting publications and on animals entering shelters bearing evidence of fighting — that the number of people involved in dog fighting in the U.S. is in the tens of thousands. So you can only imagine how many innocent dogs are roped into participating in the cruel “sport.”

Dog fighting remains so rampant, there’s even a National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, April 8, aimed at increasing understanding and awareness about dog fighting and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of animal cruelty.

The dog of choice for dog fighting in the U.S. is the American Pit Bull Terrier, which could help explain why Sugar went missing.

But while Pit Bulls may be top dogs when it comes to dog fights, other breeds and mixes are reportedly used in street fights or as bait dogs used to train fighting dogs. Other animals are also used as bait, including cats, rabbits and rodents.

Make Sure Your Pet Doesn’t Becomethe Next Dog Fight Victim

The ASPCA suggests that you:

  • Refrain from leaving your animals outside without supervision
  • Make sure they have proper identification tags
  • Get your pet microchipped

Of course, not all pets that go missing end up in the dog fighting circuit, but better safe than sorry, right?

What to Do if Your Pet Goes Missing

If your pet goes missing for whatever reason, here’s what you should do, according to dog trainer Cesar Milan’s site:

As soon as you notice your pet is gone

  • Man the phones, assuming your phone number is on your pet’s tag
  • Find a recent picture of your pet to circulate — it’s a lot easier to show a picture than try to describe your pet’s appearance
  • Bring some bait, which could include a toy that makes a sound your pet likes
  • Rally the troops — give your phone number to your neighbors or anyone you run into on the search, and ask them to call you if they see any sign of your dog

The next day

  • Create a poster that includes a quality picture and pertinent info
  • Where to post: community bulletin boards, local merchants, and friends and family in your area
  • Check lost and found sites — and, of course, local shelters

If it’s been a couple of days, and there’s still no sign of your pet, do not give up hope. Instead:

  • Broaden the perimeter of your search
  • Begin contacting shelters and police stations outside your immediate area
  • Keep your ads current, online and in the newspaper
  • Keep visiting your local shelters and dog parks with current pictures of your dog
  • Check where you posted your flyers to make sure they’re still there and haven’t been covered over

If you want thousands of people to help you search for your lost pet, you might also try following Sugar’s owners’ lead by taking to social media.

Of course, when it comes to missing pets, prevention is the best medicine. Cesar’s site also lists some tips on how to prevent your dog from going missing in the first place, although in Sugar’s case, an irresponsible pet sitter was to blame for her disappearance.

Sugar’s owners are now offering a $10,000 reward, no questions asked, thanks to the generosity of concerned citizens who donated online, plus a $5K boost from NBA star David Lee.


  • Give Sugar some sugar: If you’d like to join the efforts to help find Sugar, visit her Facebook page;
  • Read 10 Ways to End Dog Fighting to find out what you can do to help end this brutal practice;
  • Share this post with your friends and family to spread the word about Sugar and inform others about dog fighting and what pet owners can do if their pet goes missing. After all, animals lives are at stake here.

Photo Credit: freestocks.org/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for posting.

Chris C
Chris C4 months ago


Carole R
Carole R4 months ago

Thanks for the information.

hELEN h4 months ago


Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons9 months ago

There is also a site called pet finder.

Paulo R
Paulo R9 months ago

shared. ty

Chad A
Chad Anderson9 months ago

Thank you.

Georgina M
Georgina Elizab M9 months ago


Angela J
Angela J9 months ago


sue h
sue higgins9 months ago

its always heart breaking when you can't find your pet and your mind just keeps on thinking the worse ......