Many of us have come across a wandering stray dog or cat and wondered what to do. If you find a stray pet, keep in mind that the animal may be lost and have loving owners frantically searching for him or her. If a pet has been lost for several weeks, they will be dirty, skinny and have fleas, even if from a wonderful home. Although you may not want to sound a false alarm, it’s likely that the pet needs help and you should take action if possible.
Dupont Veterinary Clinic applauds your desire to help animals in need, which is why we have outlined the steps you can take if you ever do find a stray pet.
If You Find A Stray Pet
Approach carefully – When lost and confused, even animals from good homes may run away from you or bite. The pet may also be injured, and in pain. If you’re at all concerned for your own safety, call animal control or the police for assistance. Speak calmly, and try to lure the pet with food into a carrier or your car, or restrain him with a leash.
Check for tags – Obviously, the easiest thing to do is check the pet’s tags to locate the owner. If the animal has no collar or tags, place a temporary one on her with your information. If the pet gets lost a second time, she’ll be returned to you.
Check for a microchip – If possible, take the pet to the local animal shelter or veterinary office to have her scanned for a microchip. If she has one, the shelter or veterinary clinic can call the microchip company with the ID number that comes up on the scanner, and the owner can be contacted.
Work with the local shelter or animal control center – Many people are wary of contacting the shelter when they find a lost pet, thinking that the pet will be put down. But shelters can actually be great partners in locating owners of lost pets. The shelter is often the first place owners look for their missing pets, so communicating with them is critical.
Shelters are often happy to have you care for a lost pet in your home, while taking their information and yours in case an owner is located. If you must relinquish the pet to the shelter and you’re interested in adoption, make sure they have your interest and contact information noted, and call the shelter every day to check on the pet’s status.
Post flyers – Take a good, clear photo of the animal and write a description, but keep a few details to yourself, such as the pet’s gender and specific markings. You do want to verify that a person who claims to be the owner really is. Sadly, there are some people who claim lost pets for unethical purposes.
Place the photo and description along with how to contact you on bright paper and post the flyers everywhere you can think of around your neighborhood and beyond. Lost pets can and do travel some distances from home, so circulate in a wide area.
Harness the power of the internet – social media can be a great resource for lost and found pets. Post the information from your flyer on pet lost and found facebook groups and neighborhood email groups, and ask your network to share.
What To Do If You Find The Owner
Success! You’ve had a call from someone claiming to be the pet’s owner. Now, ask that they verify the identifying information you kept back from your flyer. If you’re meeting the owner in person, ask them to bring a picture of the pet. See how the pet reacts to the person; if they seem unsure or fearful, ask for more information such as a veterinary office or records. You can call the veterinarian to help verify ownership.
Congratulations if you do find the owner of a lost pet! There’s something really satisfying about helping to reunite a lost pet with their loving family. If you find a stray pet and have more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help.