It's a common scenario in our business--people come in with a dog or cat they just found (or, as some say, who found them!) and they want to know what to do. Many people in this situation are ready to take on this new project and add the new guy to the family. Sometimes the finder is not necessarily in the market for a new pet, but worried that taking the foundling to the local shelter will end up with them being euthanized, and this makes them understandably reluctant to report the pet as "found." Others are concerned with the sorry state of the pet when it was found, and assume the previous owners mistreated or abandoned the poor thing, but often this isn't true!
What should you do, then, if you find a dog or cat without a collar tag in sight? A good mantra to remember is "Assume LOST, not ABANDONED," and give the previous owner the benefit of the doubt and a chance to reunite with Fluffy.
Here' are some steps you can take when you find a lost pet:
A great first step is to take the pet to a professional who can scan the pet for a microchip. A microchip is a small ID tag, the size of a grain of rice, implanted in the skin between the shoulder blades. If it is registered to an owner and their contact information is current, the pet can be returned! Sometimes a pet can be lost for months or even years, and be far from home, or in pretty bad shape, but still have an owner looking for them. Pet microchip numbers can be searched at www.petmicrochiplookup.org. If you want to get your dog or cat outfitted with a microchip, give our office a call for an appointment.
Many municipalities have a mandated "holding period" where an animal suspected of having an owner must be held for a certain number of days before a new owner can be legally declared. In our area, that is 30 days. This waiting period gives the owner a chance to come forward and claim their pet. This means, if you find a lost or stray pet, you should report it to the local Animal Control so they can have a record of the pet being found, in case someone comes looking for them. They will be able to help you decide if the pet should be brought to the shelter for holding, or if you can "foster" it until an owner comes forward, or the waiting period is up. Old-fashioned flyers on telephone poles, door-to-door canvassing in the local area, and posting on social media are all good ways to get the word out about your new project. Other places to post flyers include local veterinary offices and the local shelter.
Maybe Fluffy really does need a new home, and is happy to have found you! But, before everyone settles in, make sure you've done what you can to get them back to their family, just like you would want if your pet went missing.
Our technicians and doctors write posts for this blog, hoping to keep our clients informed and entertained. We hope you find their topics helpful and fun to read about!