What to do if you find a lost animal


Tips to help reunite a lost animal with their family.

Nervous cat walking through a garden under a large leaf
Losing a pet is a very distressing time for owners, so when you find a lost animal there are a number of things you can do to help reunite them with their family. Animals are more likely to be returned to owners if you follow these strategies rather than contact your local animal management service. If the animal is sick, injured or too young to be on its own, take it to a vet clinic as soon as possible.

Step one

If you find a wandering animal and it’s friendly, contain it in an area that it can’t escape from. Lost animals are in danger of getting hit by a car or into some other kind of trouble and need our help to find their way home.

Step two

If the animal has a collar with ID tag on it, contact the owner immediately. If the animal doesn’t have an ID tag knock on doors and ask neighbours if it is their pet or if they know where the animal lives. Even if the animal doesn’t have a collar and ID, it could have a microchip so take the animal to a local vet clinic to be scanned for a microchip.

Step three

Contact all your local shelters, pounds and vet clinics on the first day to report the animal as found and ask them to check if it has been reported as lost. If the owner has given permission, they should provide you with owner details for direct return. Prove the shelter or vet with a photo of the animal to add to their report.

Step four

Utilise local lost and found, community websites and social media to list the found pet with photo and to check if an owner has posted a lost report like Lost pet finders.

Step five

Make simple flyers to distribute to your neighbours and giant neon posters for street poles or in local shops. The flyers can be created online or using programs like Microsoft Word. Include FOUND CAT/DOG, a PHOTO of the animal, YOUR PHONE NUMBER and any unique features. You can download a flyer template here. Check with your Council on laws related to displaying community posters.

Step six

If you have tried all of the above strategies and can’t find the owner, check with your local Council pound/shelter as local law may require a mandatory stray holding period at their facility. If so, keep looking for the owner and let the pound know if you are in the position to adopt the animal.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.