What Should I Do If I Find A Lost Pet?


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What Should I Do If I Find A Lost Pet?

5 Ways To Help A Missing Pet Return Home Safely & Quickly

Reuniting stray animals with their family as quickly as possible is important, but remembering the steps for reunifying a lost pet with its people can be hard in stressful situations.

We've put together five ways to help bring a lost pet home safely and quickly that will hopefully result in happy tails!

Step 1: Check the lost pet's ID tag

If you find a lost pet, check to see if they have ID tags on their collar. If you can safely approach it, take a photo of the tag(s). Don't see a collar or tag? Search nearby, it may have fallen off.

Now you can attempt to connect with the owners even if something happens to the tag or if a situation comes up where it’s no longer safe to approach the animal

black and white senior boston terrier wearing a PetHub tag that's being scanned by a smart phone

If the stray dog or cat has an ID tag with the owner's contact information, call and see if you can be in touch with the owners. Share key details like:

  • Your name & contact info
  • Detailed location info - street names, landmarks, house numbers, and business addresses
  • Information about the pet - physical condition or injuries
  • Next steps - do you plan on staying in one spot before heading to the local animal shelter or calling animal control? Let that person know, along with where you’re headed next

If the pet has a PetHub digital ID tag as identification, scan the QR Code with a phone (or call the 24/7 Found Pet Hotline) to access information about the lost animal. This can include emergency contacts, important health or behavior information, and vaccination records. You can also issue a found pet report that can be shared with an animal control office.

Step 2: Knock on neighbor's doors

Did you know that, in most cases, pets are found within 2-3 miles of their home? If you find a stray pet, focus on the nearby homes or businesses from where you found it. Safely restrain the dog on a leash or carry it with you, knock on doors, and ask neighbors if they recognize the pet you have with you. 

tan and white senior dog laying down with its tongue hanging out wearing a collar and tag

If the dog or cat is injured or stressed, secure it in a safe place, take a couple of clear photos of its face and body on your phone, and bring them with you when speaking with neighbors. You may be able to find the owner or someone who knows where the stray animal belongs!

Step 3: Post about the found pet on social media

Take some good photos of the animal you found and share them on your social media.

grey, white, and black tabbie cat sitting at a laptop with its paw on the mouse

Here are some places you should probably post besides relying solely on your friends:

  • Local lost/found pet groups
  • Community neighborhood forums for the town you found the stray dog along with neighboring community forums
  • NextDoor
  • Local animal control or animal shelter pages

Be sure to include details about when and where you found the pet and how to be in touch with you. Keep a close eye on your messages in case the owner sees them and reaches out!

Step 4: Call local animal shelters & veterinary offices

Call around to your local shelters & vet clinics and see if anyone has reported an animal missing, matching the one you have found. If not, leave your name and contact information so that the shelter can contact you should someone report a missing pet matching the one you found.

Step 5: Check for a microchip

Take the lost dog or cat to the nearest veterinary clinic or animal shelter to have it scanned for a microchip. If the lost animal is chipped (and the owner maintained their information), you'll be able to contact the owners of the found animal.

black and white cat being held with a microchip scanner near its body

What should you do if the five steps given don't result in finding the stray animal's home?

If none of these steps get you any closer to finding the dor or cat's owner, and you’re willing to take the lost pet in for a few days, you can take proactive steps like to create flyers and post around town, report on social media, call the local shelter, animal control and vet clinics and search lost and found social media posts daily.

If you can not care for the animal while you search for its owners, take him to a local animal shelter, rather than letting him run free (this can be very dangerous for him and make it more difficult for him to be reunited with his owner). Calling the animal shelter is one of the first steps most pet parents take if they are missing a pet, so this is a great option.


tan and white dog in a field wearing a collar and a PetHub tag

PetHub team is available to help get pets home safely and quickly. Our free 24/7 Found Pet Hotline is staffed by humans (yes, not robots) and we can help finders connect with pet owners. Our Customer Support is available via phone or email (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm PST) and can be reached at support@pethub.com or 866-795-8440 ext 1.

These five steps can help you reunite a lost pet as quickly and efficiently as possible. Remember, the first 72 hours are critical for lost pets, so acting fast is key! Best of luck!

If you're still having difficulty finding the pet's owner or need additional assistance, consider reaching out to local animal welfare groups that specialize in reuniting lost pets with their owners. Many have volunteers and staff to help in situations like these. These are also helpful resources that can help bring a lost pet home.

Curious about what steps pet owners should take to get their pets home safely? Check out our post for pet owners!