CASTLE Hill resident Gunilla Denton-Cook knows the feeling of dread that hits owners whose beloved pet goes missing.
Her 11-year-old Australian silky terrier Clyde ran away after fireworks frightened him in mid-December.
She has spent three weeks scouring the neighbourhood, posting 'lost' flyers and calling local vets and shelters to try and find him.
And she's not alone.
Many pets run away over the holiday period when they hear fireworks or their owners go on holidays.
"We just panicked," Mrs Denton-Cook said when she realised Clyde had run away. She said not everyone is aware of what to do in the situation and there is a misconception you should call the RSPCA, who rescue abused animals.
Pet owners should first call local veterinarians, council, pound and shelters to see if their pet has been turned in.
The Hills and Hornsby councils have no shelter so animals are taken to the Hawkesbury or Carlton animal shelters respectively.
The owners of micro-chipped pets will be contacted (ensure your contact details are current) and held at the shelter for 14 days.
Pets without a micro-chip will be held for seven days with animals rehomed or put down after that period.
An animal needs to be micro-chipped before they are released.
Residents who find an animal are required by law to report it to the council.
■ Lost animals in The Hills are taken to the Hawkesbury Companion Animal Shelter, Mulgrave Road, Mulgrave, 4560 4644. If you find a stray or missing animal call 9843 0557 and a council ranger will collect it.
■ Animals in Hornsby are taken to Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, 77 Edward Street, Carlton, 9587 9611. Call the council on 9847 6853.