Finding lost pets

Finding Lost Pets | Next Steps

May 3, 2015

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Finding lost pets is worrying for both the person who finds them and especially for the owner who loses them. Finding lost pets is something we have all probably experienced, but it is stressful for both the finder, as they have the responsibility to the animal, wanting to return it to the owner quickly, and the owner is stressed about the safety of their loved pet and getting it back quickly.

There are things you can do to speed up the process of finding lost pets and having it returned to its rightful owner, and in the case of a dog or cat, the owner should always make sure their pet has a collar and tag with the owners name, address or phone number on it. Also it will soon be compulsory in most states for dogs and cats to be microchipped.

If your pet is wearing a tag and is microchipped, this will hugely increase your chances of being reunited with them if they go missing.

Finding lost pets and what to do if you’ve lost yours

If your dog or cat has gone missing, here are some things you can do:

  • Call the microchip database they are registered with and report them as lost or stolen. Make sure your contact details are always up to date.
  • Contact your local authority warden, via your local council – they are legally responsible for strays and may well have picked up your pet. They will hold on to stray dogs for seven days but, after this time, dogs will be rehomed or put to sleep if no home can be found for them.
  • Contact neighbouring local authorities too as pets may move across local council borders
  • Call local kennels/charities – it’s possible someone has found your pet dog and taken them to a local rehoming centre or kennels
  • Contact local vet surgeries or animal hospitals – if your pet has been injured, they may have been taken there for treatment
  • Check online lost and found websites and notice boards in your local area.
  • If you think your pet has been stolen, call the police
  • Put up notices in your local area with an up-to-date photo of your pet
  • Visit places where other pet owners go and ask them to keep an eye out for your pet

Find lost pets – What to do if you’ve found a dog

If you’ve found a stray dog, check to see if they’re wearing a tag with the owner’s details on. If they are, and you’re happy to do this, contact the owner and arrange to give them back the dog.

Otherwise contact your local authority dog warden via your local council. They are legally responsible for stray dogs and will come and collect the dog from you and take them to a holding kennels while they wait to see if their owner will claim them.

Although it might be tempting to keep the dog, you’re legally required to let the local authority know about any stray dogs and, if you don’t, you could be charged with theft.

There may be a loving owner out there who is desperately searching for their missing pet and, if that pet is microchipped, it could prove very easy to reunite them.

It’s very easy to get attached to a pet the longer you keep them, so please do let someone know as soon as possible.

If you do want to keep the pet, let the local authority know and they may be able to arrange for you to adopt it if no one claims it.

Finding lost pets – What happens when dogs are found as strays?

Many thousands of dogs are picked up as strays by local authorities every year. They are usually taken to the local pound or, if the council doesn’t have one, private holding kennels where they stay for a set time (may vary from state to state and council to council), while the authorities wait to see if their owner will come and reclaim them.

Dog or animal wardens are legally responsible for stray dogs and must, by law, hold on to them before they can rehome them.

If the dog is poorly, they will get veterinary help for the dog, but they are still legally responsible during this time.

If a dog isn’t claimed after a set time the authorities have to decide whether to put them to sleep.

During the waiting period, council dog wardens may send a list of unclaimed stray dogs to charities and refuges. However most of these places have a limited number of spaces. Sadly, if no home can be found for them, many will be put to sleep.

Further reading for finding lost pets:

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