Tips for locating the owner of a lost pet:

If the dog or cat you found is wearing an ID tag or license hopefully it has a loving owner and current contact information. Keep the animal in a safe or secure area while you call the number on the tag. It might take time to get a hold of an owner. If you can't keep the animal on your property and want to avoid having to take it to the shelter ask a local vet's office if they can board the animal for the day while you wait for the owner to return your call.

Have the animal scanned for a microchip. Many responsible pet owners have their animals micro chipped these days. In some cases a lost animal is not wearing a collar with identification but might have a microchip from Avid or Home Again. Most local vets will help a Good Samaritan by scanning the animal for free. If the animal is chipped you can contact the microchip company so they can contact the owner.

Post Found Flyers in the area you found the animal, surrounding vet offices, and local business. Do not use a photo and keep the information general so the owner has to identify their animal so you know they are legitimate.

Post a found ad on Craigslist or in the free section of your local paper.

Ask neighbors in the area where you found the dog if anyone recognizes the animal.

Take the dog/cat to the local shelter. If an owner cannot find their pet close to home, the first place they will search is the animal shelters. Bringing an animal to a city or county shelter is hard; however you will increase the chances of the owner finding their lost pet. Many well-meaning people keep lost pets at their homes, not realizing the animal's owner is looking for the stray pet at the animal shelter. If you choose to bring an animal to the shelter there is a way to keep track of the animal to make sure it is reclaimed or adopted and not euthanized.

To track a shelter dog or cat to make sure it is re-claimed and safe from euthanasia you must get their impound number at the time of drop off. The impound number is very important to follow up on an animal. You can also ask that your name be listed as an interested party if the animal is not claimed in hopes that they would contact you if the animal was scheduled to be put down for overcrowding. However our experience has been to not rely on them to call you but to keep a close eye on the animal by communicating with the shelter staff.

If you live in the city of Los Angeles go to the LA Animal Services website to find the shelter closest to you: www.laanimalservices.com.

Do you think you found the owner? Good work! But the sad situation is that many people answer "found pet" ads to sell animals to labs, or use for dog fighting or breeding. To ensure you found the animal's rightful owner:

  • Follow your instincts. If something doesn't feel right be a detective.
  • Ask the person to describe the animal over the phone in detail. Ask the color of the animal's collar or to describe a distinctive marking.
  • Ask for Identification. Ask them for their full name and call back number. Hang up and tell them you will call them back to make sure the number is real. Ask to see their driver's license.
  • Ask them who their vet is and confirm that information.
  • Ask them to bring a photo of the animal.
  • Observe the animal being reunited with its owner. Does the animal recognize the person?

Tips for helping a stray or abandoned animal that has no owner:

Helping a stray or abandoned animal can be an extremely rewarding experience. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing that stray dog running through traffic with that fear in its eyes. Often the animal is too afraid or wild (feral) to be caught and can result in fear biting or car accidents so BE CAREFUL. Sometimes the animal cannot be caught until it has exhausted itself.

Scared or feral dogs and cats often will need to be trapped. In this case get help from an experienced trapper and use a humane trap. Two good resources for trapping in the LA area are:


Stray animals need the most help because they are the ones most likely to be euthanized at the shelter if they are fearful and don't show well. They often need some TLC and socialization to show them the world is not a scary place. If you can foster or board a stray animal please visit our "Under Our Wing" page to see how The Rescue Train can help. CLICK HERE.