Safety first:

While it's a noble cause to help a stray animal, please remember to always put your own safety first. Lost pets may be scared and act differently and you won't know the animal's typical temperament, so approach the animal cautiously and do not attempt to retrieve any animal that displays aggressive behavior. If you are unable to retrieve the animal, contact the nearest animal control agency to help.

If you are able to retrieve a stray pet and take it to your home while looking for its owner, it's a good idea to keep them separated from other animals in your home in case they have any unknown diseases or behavioral issues. 

try to find its owner:

Always assume that someone is looking for the pet you have found, and do what you can to reunite the pet with its owner. You should always file a found pet report with animal control, even if you want to try to find the pet's owner before taking them to an animal control facility. 

1. Does the animal have a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip? If the pet has a collar with ID tags, that's the quickest way to get in touch with the pet's owner. If there is no collar with ID tags, take the animal to any animal control facility, local veterinary office or animal shelter to get the pet scanned for a microchip--this is a free service that you will not have to pay for. If the animal has a microchip, they can help you look up the information to contact the owner.

If the animal does not have ID tags or a microchip or the information is outdated, proceed to the next steps to look for the owner.

2. Always file a found pet report with the closest animal control agency as well as with any other agencies within a 60-mile radius. Some of the information animal control will ask you when filing a found pet report includes:

  • Pet's Name
  • Pet's Sex (male/female)
  • Pet's Size (approximate weight) 
  • Pet's Color
  • Pet's Breed (or approximate breeds)
  • Whether the Pet is Wearing a Collar
  • Whether the Pet is Spayed/Neutered (if known; tattoos on the underside of females indicate a spay surgery)
  • Whether the Pet has been Scanned for a Microchip (provide microchip number if you have it)
  • Pet's Behavior (how the animal is acting in your care)
  • The Address or Street Where You Found Him/Her
  • Your Contact Information 

3. Print and post flyers in the area where the pet was found, as well as at local pet stores, veterinary offices or businesses nearby. Pet FBI has a free flyer template online that you can use that's easy and quick. We suggest not including a photo or identifying features of the pet on flyers or ads to prevent people who are not the owners from claiming the pet.

4. Share posts with information about the found pet on social media. Social media is a quick way to let a lot of people know that you are looking for the pet's owner. Be sure your found pet post is public so that people can help share it. You can post it to your personal page as well as local community pages such as Lost and Found Pets of Athens, GA

If you can't find the owner right away:

You may not be able to find the owner right away, and that's normal--these things can take time. But we also know that not everyone has the ability to keep a lost animal until the owner is found. In addition to filing a found pet report with animal control, you can take the pet there and they will hold the animal for at least five days on what's called a "stray hold." This is sometimes the best or only option for some people. However, if the shelter is full, you may want to consider keeping the pet in your home or finding a trusted friend to keep them so that it doesn't jeopardize any of the animals in the full shelter.