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What to Do If You Find a Lost Pet

By Stacy Painter
February 20, 2020 • 2 min. read
lost dog sitting in grass

Most pet parents have probably imagined the gut-wrenching possibility of their furry friend somehow escaping and have done everything they can to ensure they can be reunited should that ever happen. If you should lose your dog, here are some tips to find them.

But what if you found yourself on the other side of that equation, having found someone’s lost loved one. If you come across a lost dog or cat, what should you do?

  1. Above all, be safe. Any animal can potentially be dangerous, but even the sweetest pup can lash out when lost, stressed and disoriented. If, at any point in your rescue attempt, you feel unsafe, reach out to the local animal control service or police department. Then stay put and keep an eye on the animal.
  2. Approach the animal slowly and with a gentle voice. Some pets are afraid of strangers and may flee.
  3. If you’ve gotten the pet into your care, do a quick check for ID tags and any obvious injuries. Identification should help you track down an owner, and if you note any injuries you can make sure medical attention is received as needed.
  4. Check your local Nextdoor page or Facebook group to see if anyone has posted about the lost pet that you’ve found. Conversely, create a “found pet” post with a photo of the animal.
  5. Take your new friend to a local shelter. There are several things they should be able to help you with, including everything from scanning for a microchip to maybe even recognizing the escapee. If the pet parent is searching for the lost pet, they will likely contact the shelters in the area.
  6. If you prefer keeping them with you while trying to find their owners, make sure you protect any pets you already have in your home, for everyone’s sake. New people and animals can add even more stress for your new pal.

Keep in mind that, if you do choose to take this stray home with you, in most states you are not simply allowed to take permanent ownership. You’ll need to exhaust all your options for getting them back to their rightful home before you can call them your own.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for a pet insurance company was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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