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What to Do if You Find a Stray, Feral or Lost Animal

Brown dog with its paw in a person's hand (768x512)

Wonder what to do if you find an animal that doesn’t appear to be with its owner? Follow these steps and remember: Safety first!

Catch the Animal Safely

This first step might actually be the most difficult. Containing an animal can be awfully tricky, particularly if they are happy to be running around. They could also be experiencing the opposite emotion and are very unhappy and scared. If the animal doesn’t look friendly, don’t approach it at all and call animal control.

It’s crucial you take every precaution necessary to stay safe and make sure you keep the people around you safe as well. If you are in your car, don’t cause a car accident. If you aren’t in your vehicle, slowwwwly approach the animal on foot. Generally, running towards the cat or dog will just cause it to bolt.

Restrain the Animal

Now you need to keep the animal from running off again. Use treats to lure the animal if necessary. Then try to contain the dog or cat with a crate or collar and leash. Keep using slow movements and a quiet voice so you don’t cause them to panic.

Identify the Animal

See if the animal is wearing a collar and identification tag. If the animal is wearing one (yay!), they are likely someone’s pet and sorely missed by their family. Then search the ID tag for a phone number. Call the number and hopefully the animal will be quickly reunited with their owner.

No identification tag? There’s still a chance that animal is someone’s pet. Take the animal to an animal professional, such as a veterinarian or shelter worker. They can scan the animal for a microchip. If the microchip is registered, then hopefully the animal will be easily reunited with their owner.