If You Find a Lost Pet

If you've found a lost pet...

First Steps

  1. Be safe, be smart.
  2. Leave the pet alone.
    Chances are the pet will be able to find its way home. Since you do not know the pet, it is best not to approach it.
  3. Call the local shelter or animal control center.
    Mention where you last saw the pet (nearest intersection), the pet’s breed and other noticeable characteristics.
  4. Is it hurt?
    If the animal has injuries, stay away! The animal may bite and scratch you due to fear and pain.

Finding the Owner

If you decide you want to help find the pet’s owner:
  1. Look for tags on the pet’s collar.
    If there is a tag, call the phone number on the tag. If the pet is licensed, the license number can be tracked by the city or county’s animal control agency. If there is no tag or current phone number, continue reading the tips below.
  2. Ask your neighbors, mail carriers, garbage collectors and other delivery people in your neighborhood if they might know the pet’s owner.
  3. A local vet may be able to scan the pet for a microchip, free of charge. A microchip contains electronic data about the pet’s owner and contact details.
  4. Check the “Lost” ads in local newspapers, publications and online. Go back a week and check old newspapers, too. Keep an eye out for “Lost” flyers in your neighborhood.
  5. Consider putting a “Found” ad in your local newspaper, publications and online. You can also make flyers of the “Found” pet. Use bright colors and big lettering to attract attention. Include:
    • A photo of the found pet
    • Breed of animal
    • Weight, size
    • Color of fur and eyes
    • Male or female
    • Type and color of collar
    • Tag or tattoo I.D. numbers (Tattoos are often found inside the ear, or on the inner legs.)
    • Marks, scars, spots

    Hang these in the area where you found the pet. Be sure that they’re hung high enough for drivers to see.

    WHN TIP: It's the Law

    In some jurisdictions, the law requires you to file a report with your local animal control agency, so information about the pet you found is available for his owners.

  6. If the owner calls you:
    • If you no longer have possession of the pet, be sure to tell the owner where the pet is currently located and when you handed the pet over to that organization or authority.
    • To verify that this person is indeed the owner of the pet, ask for the name and telephone number of the animal's veterinarian. Make the call and verify this before turning over the animal.
    • If you do have the pet, ask to meet the owner in a public place such as a church or store parking lot during the day. Bring someone with you to meet the owner.

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