If you have found a cat or dog that appears to be lost, we encourage you to do what you can to reunite the animal with its owner or, failing that, to find it a new loving, responsible home. If your pet or child was lost, wouldn’t you want a kind, caring person to help?
We recommend taking the following actions:
- Check the animal for identification tags. If the animal’s owner is responsible, they will have a tag on the animal with their current telephone number so it will just be a matter of contacting them and waiting for the animal to be picked up.
- Please be aware that lost animals may be traumatized and homeless animals may be very wary of humans (often for good reason) so approach the animal cautiously and slowly. Both cats and dogs prefer to smell your closed hand before allowing themselves to be petted. Small amounts of food are often an effective ice breaker.
- If the animal has no identification tags, take it to a local veterinarian to have it scanned for a microchip. This takes no more than a few minutes and most vets will not charge you for this service.
- If the animal has a microchip, you can look up this number via the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup website. Note: This site will just tell you which company the microchip is registered with. You will need to visit the specific vendor’s website and follow their lost pet reporting instructions to make contact with the owners.
- If the animal doesn’t have a microchip, take photos of it, create “Found Pet” posters with your name and telephone number. This site offers good tips on how to create these posters for the most effectiveness.
- Lost Dogs of Texas offers a free service which will post the dog’s information online and create a flyer for you with all of the animal’s details. Click here to be taken to this service.
- Hang the posters near where you found the animal, in entrances and exits into your subdivision, and at other high-traffic points in your area, but be aware of possible restrictions on the placement of signs. You should also consider putting posters in local pet supply stores, vet clinics, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.
- It’s also worthwhile contacting your Home Owners Association as some of them have an email database and may be able to send out a notice to your neighbors about the found pet.
- Contact local animal control shelters and file a found animal report with them. Each shelter has its own procedures for documenting found pets. Do NOT contact only the closest shelters to your home. National statistics show dogs are recovered up to 14 miles from where they are lost, and cats are recovered up to four miles away.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be the animal’s owner, ask the person to describe the animal – its name (see if the animal responds to this name), size, distinguishing features, and temperament - and have them send you a picture of the animal. The real owner will have no problem answering your questions and providing a photo. It’s unfortunate that you have to take these steps, but some people will respond to found pet ads simply to get a “free” animal.
- When you hand over the animal, for your own safety, arrange to meet in a public place.
- We realize that due to personal circumstances it may be inconvenient for you to keep the found animal in your home for an extended period of time. We encourage you to contact one of the areas No-Kill organizations to assist with rehoming the animal. Many of these organizations, like us, do not have a shelter and are overcrowded with animals, but may be willing to post the animal’s information on their website and allow you to bring it to adoption events.
- We do NOT recommend you take the animal to an animal control shelter. The holding period for strays at most shelters in our area is only 72 hours from the time they are impounded. For the majority of animals surrendered at shelters, this means that once the holding period expires they will be euthanized.
While it may take a while to find the animal’s owner or to find it a new home, if the owners can’t be found, we assure you it will be worth your patience and time. Remember, you will be saving a life and maybe this animal was put into your life for a reason!