Pet FBI: Reuniting Lost Dogs with Their Families

By Susan Tasaki, February 2020, Updated June 2021
lost dog

Photo by Daniel Frank

Scroll through your local Nextdoor, Craigslist or Facebook site and you’re sure to see far too many notices of lost, found or wandering dogs. Ditto when you walk around your neighborhood, go to your vet’s office or stop by the pet supply store.

While all these notices are good as far as they go, they’re siloed, restricted to their respective venues. Making connections across all these platforms isn’t necessarily easy, or even possible. What’s needed is a nationwide lost-and-found pet database, one that harnesses the power of the internet and the capacity to search and sort that databases provide. Luckily, several have come online over the past few years, including one we find particularly noteworthy.

More than 20 years ago, Maresa Fanelli, a retired French professor living in Ohio, had a distressing experience while looking for a lost cat. That experience inspired her to found Pet FBI, an online database cataloging lost-and-found reports. Initially covering only Ohio, today, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) serves all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Run by a small group of volunteers and funded by donations, Pet FBI is a free information center where you can not only enter a lost or found report, you can also access lots of helpful information: a checklist of steps to take when you’ve lost your dog, action plans, flyer templates, and more.

It’s a big world, life can be complicated and things happen. Anything that helps shorten the odds of either finding our own lost co-pilot or helping someone else find theirs is well worth supporting.

Photo by Daniel Frank / Pexels

Susan Tasaki, a freelance editor and writer, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Husky, who wishes they both got out more.