What To Do If You Have Found a Lost Dog or Cat

If you see a dog or cat that seems to be lost, do take action!  Don’t assume it’s a homeless pet.  In Canada, the number of abandoned pets is low (yes, it happens), so if you see a cat or dog, there is a good chance it is lost.  Be part of the solution.  From time to time we see posts that say “this cat has been in my back yard for two weeks” or “this dog visits every day” and it’s very scary to think of what could have happened to the animal as each day passes.

Each situation will be different, but here are some things you can do, to help a lost pet get home again.  (In no particular order!)

  1. Take a photo of the animal.  There is a good chance you will have to use it later to post it online, to make posters, or to remember the description.
  2. Speak softly and see if they want to approach you. Some may come up right away, which is awesome.  Do secure them in a safe space, to put an end to their adventures.  If they seem scared of you, don’t push it, don’t chase.  Pretend you are indifferent, perhaps turn away from them, so they don’t expect an interaction from you.  When a timid pet is lost, just a sighting is the perfect break needed to be able to help catch the missing dog or cat.  Never – ever – never chase. Never.
  3. If you can’t contain the animal, take notes.  Be specific on city, location, health of animal, direction headed, etc.  All these things may seem trivial, but they can be part of a puzzle, and bring the owners one step closer to solving it.
  4. If you can contain the animal, check for tags first (obvious, we know!).  If no tags, please take to your local vet to get scanned for a chip.
  5. Phone calls – call your local humane societies and let them know you have found this animal.  Remember that photo you took?  You can send it to them.
  6. Facebook – post the dog as found on local lost and found groups.  If you don’t know who/what/where, that’s ok – just post on your own wall, ensuring the post is public (not private).  Include in your post, things like “Lost Kitty, City Name, this area” and include the photo.  As we all know, Facebook is so well connected and there will be keeners who can help your post get shared in all the right places.
  7. Contact a local Search & Rescue Group.  Our rescue works closely with Lost Paws Inc in Ontario.  They are connected to other search groups as well, and can help or at least point you in the right direction.
  8. Post fliers on posts and trees. People may be out looking for their loved ones and despite all the technology out there, physical fliers still get the most traction.

If you do get people who contact you as the pets owners, do proceed with caution.  While most are great, some people are just terrible people and are looking for a “free” animal, to keep, sell or worse.  Ask for proof.  Ask for ID.  Any animal parent will have timestamped photos on their phone, on their Facebook, etc.  Don’t be shy about asking for proof.

Thank you for helping an animal in need!  It is our responsibility as people, to help those that can’t help themselves.