What to do if you find a Stray Pet


Check for owner identification

If there is no tag, look for a phone number stitched or written on the collar. If there is a rabies tag, it will show the vet's office, and they will be able to look up the owner from the year and tag number.

If the pet has no ID, look for tattoos. Favorite sites for tattoos are inside the ears, inside the hind legs, or on the belly. Tattoos are often found on greyhounds or retired racing dogs.

Caring for the Pet

If the pet is very hungry or thirsty, feed it small meals 4-6 times a day until it seems to stabilize. Too much food or water too fast upsets their stomach and can cause vomiting or diarrhea.

Keep the animal separated from your own animals until you know it is healthy and will get along with them.

Searching your Neighborhood.

It's time to meet your neighbors! Knock on doors to see if anyone knows the pet. If it's a dog, take it along. Use a long leash if practicable, and let him lead the way. Maybe he will even go home.

Look for lost pet flyers located around the general area.

Take it to a vet and have it checked for a microchip.

Take the pet to a vet to be scanned for a microchip. There will be no charge. If there is no microchip you may want to have it examined for ticks, fleas, ear mites or worms. Ask the vet for an opinion as to age and general health and whether the pet has been spayed or neutered.

If you plan on keeping the pet for a time, it's a good idea to request a combo test for cats or a heartworm test for dogs. Explain that you are trying to locate the pet's family and they will usually give you a rescue rate on the cost.

Report it to Animal Control

Even if you do not want to leave the pet with animal control, be sure to report it anyway. Animal Control is the most obvious place for its owner to check.

And Huntsville Animal Services can even place an entry for the pet on its website.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

Post a FOUND PET listing at Petlinker.

Post the pet on Petlinker's Facebook Page, as well as your own.

Advertise in your local newspaper, or http://al.com

Post fliers in your neighborhood.

A brief description with your phone number is sufficient.

For a cat, post flyers within a mile of where the cat was found.

Dogs are likely to travel much longer distances. For a dog, post flyers at nearby high traffic points, such as school entrances, apartment mailboxes, and intersections and leave them at high traffic businesses, such as groceries and filling stations.

Continue to Look for the Owner

Check the lost pet listings at Petlinker daily for similar animals.

Remember as you check listings, that people's descriptions can vary. Many breeds and mixed breeds can be misidentified. If you check a lost listing and the pet could vaguely be the one you found, call and inquire. It doesn't cost you anything and it could possibly make the difference in locating the pet's owner.

Check the newspaper or al.com and craigslist.org every day as well.

Look for lost pet flyers located around your general area.

Reponses to your fliers, ads or internet postings

When people call, it is their responsibility to fully describe the animal to you. Ask them if they have a photo they can email to you. If they do not have a photo, ask for a detailed description. Listen carefully to everything they say, but do not comment.

If you are certain the animal is theirs, tell them so and make arrangements for them to pick up their animal.

Do not let anyone come to your home if you are alone or if there is no adult present. If you feel uncomfortable once they arrive do NOT give the animal to them, but refer them to Animal Control.

Thank you

Thank you for helping an animal in distress. What you do can make all the difference. Please call or email if you have questions or need assistance.



This material was adapted from:
WPLP: Ten steps to take when you have found a Pet
WPLP: Found Pet Checklist


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