What to Do If You Find a Lost Pet or Stray

When you find a lost pet on the road, you might be worried for his safety or feel sad for the family that has lost him. You may feel inclined to rescue him and help reunite them, but you are unsure how to proceed.

Having a plan is always a good idea, especially when dealing with an animal that might be hurt, diseased, or aggressive. 

Here are 5 steps to follow if you find a lost pet or stray animal:

Safely Contain the Animal

Step one is to safely contain the animal so it is no longer wandering alone in a potentially dangerous area. A dog can be contained in a fenced yard or hatchback trunk. A cat will be safest in a carrier or small box with air holes. 

While you may be primarily concerned about the animal, you want to consider your own safety as well. Keep in mind that even the sweetest of animals can act aggressive if they are frightened or injured. 

If you cannot safely contain the animal yourself, call the authorities. A local animal control or police station can help safely handle the animal.

Check for ID

Once the animal is contained, carefully check for identification. Many pets have a collar with their name and the contact information of the owner. 

If this is the case, you’re in luck! Call the owner and designate a place to meet and transfer the pet. Then, skip to step 5. If there is no collar or tag on the pet, continue to step 3.

Bring It to a Local Shelter or Vet 

Many pet owners forego the collar if they have a microchip installed instead. This is an extremely reliable way to locate the owner of a pet.

Bring the animal to a local shelter or vet and they will be able to scan the microchip. They will also evaluate the pet’s health and refer it to a veterinary hospital if needed. They will offer to keep the animal until the owner is found, or if you want to, you can keep the pet at your home. Just make sure the animal is free of diseases and pests before you introduce him to your own pets.

If there are no shelters in your area, many police stations also have a microchip scanning device.

Spread the Word

If the pet does not have a microchip, or you still have not been able to contact the owner for some other reason, the next step is to spread the word.

Create fliers with a photo of the found pet and hang them around your neighborhood. Telephone poles near busy intersections and public bulletin boards are a great place to start. 

Social media is also a great tool for reuniting lost pets. Check any group pages for your city or lost animal forums. 

Verify the Owner

Unfortunately, false owners claiming and collecting lost pets can happen. Once you find the owner of the pet, you want to verify that they are legit. 

This can be done by withholding the name of the animal that is on the tag and asking the owner what it is. You can also ask to see photos of the pet on their phone.

The pet will likely physically respond to the sight and smell of their true owner. Although this is not always a guaranteed way to determine ownership, it is something to be aware of.

If the owner cannot be found, and there is no microchip or collar, the pet may be a stray. You can choose to leave him with the animal shelter, or adopt him as your own!

Animal Hospital & Urgent Care in Frederick, MD

If you find a sick or injured pet, take him to the Old Farm Veterinary Hospital, conveniently located in Frederick, Maryland! Our skilled veterinary technicians can help provide everything he needs, from microchip scanning and surgery to vaccination and grooming. Call now to schedule an appointment!