How to Reunite a Found Pet with His Family

If you are thinking about keeping a stray or lost pet you have found while you look for his guardian, you should first contact the local animal shelter. In some communities it is illegal to keep a lost animal for an extended period of time, even if you are proactively looking for the guardian (different communities have different laws on how long is too long). However, in most cases it’s okay to keep a pet overnight or until the shelter opens.

Whether you keep the animal while you search for his family or release him to a shelter, you can take the steps below to help get the pet reunited with his family. By using all available approaches, you can increase the odds of a happy reunion.

File a found animal report

Most people search for their lost pets at their local shelters. A found report includes your contact information so the guardian can find you to recover his missing pet. You can file a found report with PAWS online or in person.

Check for a microchip

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and implanted under an animal’s skin. Information is encoded on the chip to identify the animal. Take the stray animal you found to a veterinarian or animal shelter to have him scanned. If a microchip is detected, it will provide you with identifying information to find that animal’s guardian.

Post signs

Make the signs bold, with key words in large type. A photo of the animal is a big help.

Distribute flyers door-to-door in the neighborhood where the animal was found and post them at major intersections and along main streets. PAWS and other shelters have lost and found stations where you can post a sign. Also, be sure to scan the neighborhood for signs advertising a lost pet, in case the one you found is the same one.

Download this ready-made found sign (PDF 135kb)

Use the Internet

You can post information about the pet you found on several websites:

Petfinder

Craigslist

Pets 911

Lost and Pound

Missing Pet Partnership

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