What to Do if You Find a Lost Pet
cat rubbing against person on street

What to Do if You Find a Lost Pet

By Ring on February 29, 2024

You’re driving to work, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, or maybe just sitting on your porch when you see a dog or cat without their human nearby. When you get a little closer, you notice they’re skittish and frightened. It’s clear you’ve found someone’s lost pet — and they need your help.

Here are some steps you can take to help find a lost pet’s owner and get them back home safely.

Approach Carefully

Even if a lost pet looks friendly, they may not always act that way, according to the Humane Society. A frightened, skittish dog or cat may run away or act aggressively if you try to approach. If you don’t think you can safely capture a lost pet, call your local animal control to ask for help.

For pets that seem calm and relaxed, try getting them to come to you or approach them slowly.

Check for Identification

Once you’re close to the lost pet, check if they have a collar with an ID tag. Engraved tags may have a phone number and address listed, but they may not be current. If the address is nearby, you can knock on the door to see if the owner is home. Or, try calling any phone numbers to see if someone picks up.

If the lost pet has a Ring Pet Tag, you can scan the engraved QR code with your phone, which will automatically notify the owner that their pet was found. You’ll see the lost dog or cat’s Pet Profile, which includes information like the pet’s name, breed, age, and weight. The owner may have also included important details to help you care for their pet, like allergies or medical issues.

From the Pet Profile screen, you can contact the pet’s owner using an anonymous phone number, so you don’t have to share your personal information to arrange a reunion.

Look Online

Pet owners often share photos and posts on social media to spread the word about their missing pets. Take a look at online community hubs, like the Neighbors App, to see if any recent pictures match the pet you’ve found. You can sort by “Lost Cat” and “Lost Dog” filters to see recent Lost Pet Posts from your area. If you find a post matching your new furry friend, you can leave a comment letting the owner know you found them.

If you can’t find a Lost Pet Post, you can make your own post on the Neighbors App with pictures of the lost pet and details about where and how you found them. With the Contact Me option, people who read your post can call or text you directly through a temporary phone number. You can also share the post directly with Petco Love Lost to see if your photos match any in their lost pet database. If there’s a match, you’ll get a push notification and email asking you to check out potential matches.

Ask Around

If you can’t find the lost pet’s owner online, consider going door to door to see if any of your neighbors have information to share. Studies have shown that lost indoor-only cats are often found very close to where they went missing, so you may find their owner after knocking on a few doors. Dogs can travel longer distances if they’re scared or wandering, but it never hurts to check in case you find them at the beginning of their journey.

Show people pictures of the lost pet to see if anyone recognizes them. You may find the owner, someone who knows them, or a neighbor who saw their picture on a missing pet poster.

Scan for a Microchip

Even if a missing pet doesn’t have a visible form of identification, like a Pet Tag, they may have an embedded microchip. You can take the dog or cat to a local vet, animal shelter, or pet store to see if they have a microchip scanner.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, scanners will display a serial number if they detect a chip. From there, the vet or shelter employee can search an online database or call the microchip manufacturer to see if the chip is registered with the owner’s name, address, and phone number. If the information is current, you can call the owner and tell them you have their pet.

Call for Help

Once you’ve exhausted your other options, it’s time to report the lost dog or cat to local animal shelters and/or animal control and see if the owner has reached out. If there’s still no trace of the pet’s owner, it’s up to you to decide next steps, according to Petco Love Lost. Your state, city, or county may also have laws about caring for a stray animal, so check with your local animal control division to see if you’re required to surrender the lost pet.1

If your city doesn’t have regulations for lost animals, you can take them home, but be sure local shelters are aware in case the owner comes looking. Your other option is to see if a shelter or rescue will care for the lost pet.

Download the Neighbors App to Help Reunite Pets With Their Owners

You never know when you’ll find a pet on an adventure — or when your own pet may decide to explore the neighborhood. But with the Neighbors App, you can be prepared to get the word out ASAP.

Download the app today to explore Lost Pet Posts and see how you can help your neighbors bring their fur babies home.

Click to open Neighbors App in App Store. Click to open Neighbors App in Google Play Store.

1 https://www.sddac.com/content/sdc/das/lost-found/found.html

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