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Reader question: What do I do if my pet goes missing in France?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Reader question: What do I do if my pet goes missing in France?
(Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

If you have lost your cat or dog in France, you might be panicking about what to do, but there are some steps you can take to increase the chance of finding your pet safely.

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Reader question: My pet has gone missing, what should I do?

If your pet has been micro-chipped in France, then the first step is to report the fact that your animal has gone missing to the "Fichier national d'identification des carnivores domestiques (I-cad)". You can do so by going to their website i-cad.fr and then click on your personal account "Detenteur".

You will connect using the identification number for your animal and the password accompanying it. This information should be on the initial paperwork you received when micro-chipping your pet.

READ MORE: What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

Once connected, you can fill out a form (déclaration de votre animal perdu) to change the status of your pet so that it is marked as "perdu" (lost). While on your account, be sure to update your contact information (address, phone number, or email). 

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Keep in mind that all dogs aged four months and over, cats over seven months old, and ferrets born after November 1st, 2021, that are over seven months old that were, must be chipped in France.

If you travelled from another country to France, your pet should have been tagged and put on the register, but it is possible this information might be linked to your address and contact information could be outdated. You will want to verify with your veterinarian to see whether any steps are necessary for your pet to be properly listed on with I-Cad.

If your pet is not micro-chipped, perhaps because they are too young, or if you have already taken this step, then you can place alerts on private websites. One website is "Pet Alert" and it allows you to publish both 'missing' and 'found' flyers online. Keep in mind that sites like Pet Alert charge money for their services, and oftentimes will begin simply by publishing on official Facebook groups, which is something you can also do on your own.

When looking for Facebook groups to put your 'missing pet' message in, seek out those for your neighbourhood, département, and any expat groups that might be dedicated to pet ownership in France, as they may be able to help offer solidarity and tips. One large, France-wide, Facebook group is "PETZONE - Animaux perdus, vus ou trouvés" (Petzone - Lost, seen, and found animals). 

If you live in an apartment building, you might also consider leaving a note in the common space and informing your gardien (if you have one). Another helpful person to inform might be your local postal worker who typically delivers mail to your neighbourhood. Try printing out a photo of your pet and asking if they might keep an eye out for them. One tip for cats is to leave the litter box outdoors (if possible) to help them find their way home with their own scent.

Next, check all nearby veterinarians to see if someone might have taken your pet to their premises. The veterinarian's office may also be able to help you get in contact with nearby pounds as well.

Animal shelters

You should also try to call the pounds or animal shelters in your area at least once per day right after your pet goes missing. To find the shelters nearest to you, you can go to this government website. Fill in your postal code, and you will be able to see the closest animal shelter for your district, along with the contact number.

To find any other animal shelters in your area, you can call your local town hall to ask where your pet would have been taken and for the contact information.

Keep in mind that if your animal is taken to the pound, then they will only be held for a period of eight working days, beginning the the day after the animal arrives.

If you find your animal at the shelter, then you will have to pay an 'impoundment fee'. After eight days, if you do not collect your animal, then it will be considered 'abandoned'.

READ MORE: How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

The rescue shelter will do their best to re-home your animal - it will first be seen by a veterinarian to be examined, dewormed and vaccinated (if necessary). Then, the pound will likely place an ad for your animal on their website, with details like where the animal was found, its sex, age, and some personality details. They will also be photographed.

The shelter will try to have the animal given to an NGO or animal protection agency, but if this is not possible and there is no longer any space in the pound, then the animal may be euthanised. Keep in mind this is the last step, but it is not impossible.

Putting up flyers outside

As most pets go missing in the 20 km surrounding their home, putting up flyers can be a helpful way to find your lost pet. 

You can ask permission to put these up in local shops, though keep in mind that it is not authorised to place signs on public roads.

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Before putting up any posters or flyers in the public space, seek permission from your town hall.

What if I find a missing animal?

If the animal allows you to approach it and is friendly, then you can take it to the nearest rescue shelter directly. 

You can also check to see if the animal is micro-chipped. To do this, check the skin around the neck or ear. The identification number usually is 6 or 7 digits long, with at least three letters and three numbers.

If the animal is injured, you can call the town hall to get the phone number of the go-to veterinarian who will treat animals found on the street. 

If you are not interested in collecting the animal yourself - or if the animal does not let you approach it - then you should call the mairie (town hall).

According to I-Cad, you can also use the emergency after-hours number for your mairie, if it is nighttime and the pound is closed. The town hall should direct you to an animal rescue service who will come to collect the animal at any time of day.

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Useful vocabulary

Errant - Stray

L'animal se laisse approcher - The animal allows you to approach it

Fourriere - the pound/ shelter

Puce électronique ou tatouage - Microchip or tattoo with animal identification number

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