Found a Lost or Stray

You see a dog running through traffic or a scrawny, dirty cat sitting on the sidewalk alone. What can you do to help? Sometimes a dog cannot be caught until it has exhausted itself and chasing him through traffic is dangerous. Scared dogs and cats often need to be trapped, and in those cases, it is best to call your local animal control.

Other times a lost or stray animal will jump in your car or knock on your door for food. It’s never convenient when a stray pet needs your help but it’s always rewarding. Here are some tips to help an animal find its way home.

Possible Owner

If you have never lost a cherished companion animal, you may conclude that the owner of the found dog or cat callously abandoned them or, at the very least, neglected to keep them safely confined at home. But accidents can happen to anyone, and animals can be stolen and then dumped. The frantic owner could be looking everywhere for their beloved pet. Please put yourself in their shoes. Here are some tips for reuniting a pet with its owner:

  • If the pet is wearing an ID tag – Keep the animal in a safe or secure area while you call the number on the tag. It might take time to get 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 pet scanned for a microchip – In some cases, a lost animal is not wearing a collar with identification but might have a microchip. Most local vets will help a good Samaritan by scanning the animal for free and help you contact the chip company.
  • Post found flyers – Paper 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; that way you know they are the legitimate owner.
  • Use social media – Apps like and your personal social media pages are great places to post lost and found animals.
  • Ask neighbors – in the area where you found the pet if anyone recognizes the animal.
  • Take the pet to the local shelter. If you love animals like we do, the idea of dropping one at your local shelter hurts your heart, but the local shelter is the first place an owner looks for a lost pet. You can track an animal at the shelter to make sure it is reclaimed by getting the animal’s impound number at the time of drop-off. Many shelters give the person who found the animal the first right to adoption or will list you as an interested party. If you live in the city of Los Angeles, go to the LA Animal Services website to find the shelter closest to you:

Do you think you found the owner? Good work! But unfortunately, sometimes people answer “found pet” notices for nefarious purposes like dog fighting. To ensure you found the animal’s rightful owner:

  • 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. Is the animal fixed, male or female?
  • Ask for Identification. Get a copy of their driver's license.
  • Ask them who their vet is and confirm that information.
  • Ask them to bring a photo of the animal and or past vet records.
  • Follow your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it probably is not. Take the pet to the local shelter and have the person pick it up there so animal control can deal with the situation.

No Owner