What to do if you find a stray pet

You see a stray pet on the side of the road. After your heart breaks with worry and swells with how cute they are; you have to figure out what to do. You want to catch them safely, determine if they are lost or truly a stray, and finally notify every one of your finding. Below is more information on the steps to take if you find a stray pet.

Catch the stray pet safely

The first thing to do if you see a stray is to focus on safety, of both yourself and the pet. Never chase a stray animal as they may run. Instead, talk to them in a low and slow voice and entice them to come towards you. If they are hesitant – tempt them with food. Once you have the pet, try and get them into your car, a confined yard, carrier or box with air holes.

Remember to never corner an animal or try to catch a dog that is behaving aggressively or growling. If this happens, back away immediately and call animal control or the non-emergency police line with the exact street/address the pet was last seen at.

Once you have safely contained the stray pet, it’s time to determine if they are a stray, or have been lost or abandoned.

Determine pets’ status

Now that you have the stray pet contained, figure out if they are a stray pet with no home, or if they have been lost or abandoned.

Check for ID

The first thing you should do is check if the pet is wearing an ID tag. If they are you can immediately contact the owner and return the pet to them. If don’t have an ID tag, or you can’t reach the owner, contact your local animal shelters to report the animal as found. This will help if the owner goes to animal shelters to look for their pet.

Scan Microchip 

After you have made a found animal report to the shelter, have the animal scanned for a microchip. You can bring the animal to an animal shelter yourself or call animal control for assistance. It is essential that an animal is scanned as soon as possible so they can be reunited with their family.

Once you have determined if the pet is wearing an ID tag or is microchipped, it is important to take the pet to an animal shelter or rescue so it has the best chance of being reunited with their owner.

Notify every one of the found stray pet

Make sure the animal shelter has a photo of the pet to help locate their owner. Post on Facebook groups, Nextdoor apps and other neighborhood sites about the found pet. Print out flyers and hang them in the area that you found the animal. You could even go door to door in that area to see if anyone knows who owns the pet.

If the animal is a stray or was abandoned ask yourself if you want to be responsible for the pet. If not, find a local organization that has the resources and ability to take the animal. The goal once you found a stray animal is to reunite them with their owner or find them a safe new home. However, throughout the entire process your safety must be top of mind. Never put yourself, your family or your own pets at risk.

Final considerations

If you find a stray pet, put yourself in the owner’s shoes. What you would want someone to do if they found your lost or injured pet? When considering a vet visit, please be aware there may be a cost, especially if no owner claims them. Rescues like Twin Cities Pet Rescue may be able to help get a pet care. 

While it’s easy to think that every stray has no home, that is not true. Accidents happen and pets are lost every day. Your first priority is your safety, but the second is finding the pets’ home.

Finally, Twin Cities pet rescue is not a shelter and therefore we are not able to take lost pets. Please first contact your local animal shelter to help find their owner.

Adoptable Pet - Lilac with a tennis ball
Trying to “catch” her furever home

Interested in fostering or adopting a cat or dog like Lilac with Twin Cities Pet Rescue?
Visit our adoptable pets page to find more information and start the process today!