It has happened to all of us. You’re driving to work, or school, or the gym, and you see a loose dog or cat. Most people keep driving and think someone else will take care of it. If you find a stray pet and you’re willing to do what it takes to get them back home, keep reading!
1. Check for a microchip.
There is nothing more important to a lost pet than an up-to-date microchip! A microchip will be found under a pet’s skin near their shoulder blades, and is the fastest way to get them back home if no collar or tags are present. One out of every three pets will get lost in their lifetimes and only 10% without a microchip will make it back home. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, this statistic jumps up to 52% for dogs with up-to-date microchips and 38% for cats!
To scan for a microchip, take the lost pet to the nearest veterinarian’s office or animal shelter. They will likely have a scanner there, and can contact the person who is a registered to the chip. If the information is not up-to-date, take down the microchip number and move on to step two!
2. Contact your local animal shelters.
If you find a lost pet, it is likely that someone is looking for it! If no microchip is found on the pet, the next suggested step to take is to reach out to your local humane society or animal control facility to file a report stating that you found a lost animal.
If you find an email address (like this one if you live in Tucson) make sure you send over a thorough description of the pet that is in your care. Check out this list to make sure you’re providing the right info for a lost pet report!
- DATE FOUND
- MAJOR CROSS STREETS
- SEX (SPAYED OR NEUTERED)
- ATTACH IMAGE
- COLLAR DESCRIPTION
- BREED (your best guess will do fine, but here is a handy dandy breed guide for dogs and cats!)
This information will help the shelter staff make a match when, or if, the owner of the lost pet calls to file a LOST report! Attaching an image is very important. Make sure the pic is clear and you make note of any distinguishing characteristics or markings of the pet (scars, fur patterns, tail size, etc.).
3. Use Social Media.
After you’ve filed your FOUND report with your local animal shelters, you already have your picture ready to go! Log into your favorite social media site and post the same description as a status on your personal page, and make sure it is public. Ask your friends to share the post and reach out to anyone who lives in the area or is missing a dog. Then find the local version of this: Lost and Found Pets of Pima County and repost your status on there!
This is great way to spread the word that you found someone’s pet, and there is a good chance that the owners have already posted their own status to social media!
You know the idea of six degrees of separation? That chain gets much smaller when you’re posting to a social media page that is specific to your location!
4. Make a flier.
Making a flier for a lost dog or cat is easy! Download a template, insert the picture and information from your FOUND report, and post around the area where you found the lost pet! Make sure to keep your phone nearby, in case the owner tries to contact you!
5. Research intake facilities to request a pet pick up or to drop off a lost pet.
Okay, so you can’t find the owner of the pet you found. It happens, and it can be heart breaking. If you do your research, your experience with surrendering a pet into the care of an intake facility can be a something you feel good about!
The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is a no-kill facility with a live release rate of 96%. To maintain this live release rate, our organization is a managed intake facility. This means that people from the public cannot just walk through our doors with a stray dog or cat (or bird, or rabbit). An appointment and fee are both required when surrendering a pet into our care, even if it does not belong to you. This process ensures that every single animal in our care has the best possible chance at life.
If the stray animal in question is extremely sick, at all aggressive, or you feel in danger, please contact an animal control officer to deal with the situation. If you live in Tucson, contact Pima Animal Care Center.
Give yourself a pat on the back!
We realize that this can seem like A LOT of work for an animal that doesn’t belong to you, but think of all the people who drove or walked past before you stopped to help! Accidents happen and pets get loose. Stopping to be an advocate for a lost pet can be the difference between life or death for that lost pet.
Now you have the tools to do the right thing. Cheers to you, Good Samaritan!