Tips for Returning a Found Pet to the Owner


Aside from knowing the basic steps to finding your lost pet, it’s also essential to know what to do in case you ever found a lost dog or cat. You can only imagine what the lost pet’s owner may be going through, having realized that their pet has gone missing. Once the loose pet has been successfully captured and is safe in your care, your first step would be to identify the pet and spread word about the animal you found. Refer to this guide to make sure that the poor pet is reunited with his owner as soon as possible.

Finding the Owner

After you’ve safely captured the dog or cat you found, it’s time to track down the owner. But you have to be careful about the leads you get as you want to avoid handing the pet over to people who would only pretend to be the owner, but are in fact, scammers who intend to sell or harm the animal.


1. Look for an ID.

Check the collar identification tag and contact the owner immediately. However, if the pet doesn’t have this, or the contact details are not updated, the next thing to do is to see whether the pet has been microchipped. Take the pet to the vet, an animal shelter, or animal control to have him scanned for microchip identification. If the animal has been microchipped, looking for its owner would be much faster.


2. Advertise lost pet.

If you’re unable to identify the pet with the initial steps, you may start spreading information about having found a loose pet. First, you can print a flyer to put up in strategic locations. lets you create and print a lost pet flyer with just a few easy steps. You can post the flyers onto lost and found websites as well. The important thing is to provide your updated contact information.

Note: You also need to include a description of the pet, but try to make it a little more general. Leave out some important details, which only the true owner would be able to identify, should they come across your advertisement. If you’re including a picture of the pet, take off the dog or cat’s collar. Later on, if anyone asks about a lost pet, you can ask them what color or type of collar their pet has been wearing.



3. Browse listings.

There’s a good chance that the concerned pet owner may also have posted a lost dog notice in online listings. Browse through online lost & found websites and check local newspapers. You might also take look at lost dog posters around your neighborhood and if you have time, in nearby towns as well, in case the pet has gone really far from home.


4. Evaluate leads.

Once you’ve posted an advertisement, calls will start to come in. For every caller, ask questions that would help you determine if they are the actual owner. Don’t’ answer their questions about the lost pet. Instead, ask them to describe their lost pet and see if their description matches that of the cat or dog in your care.

As an added precaution, you can ask the caller to email you proofs of identification. These include registration papers, veterinary records, and photos with their pet. You may then decide to set a meeting with the person who satisfies these requirements.


5. Handing the pet over.

When the meeting is set, ask the person you’re meeting to bring with them proofs of ownership. For both your own and the pet’s safety, it’s best to hold the meeting in a public place in broad daylight. If possible, invite the owner to meet up at the vet’s office or the police station parking lot. Never agree to meet at the caller’s home or any private place as you can be putting yourself in danger. Bring someone to accompany you as well.

During the handover, observe the dog or cat’s reaction towards seeing its owner. Lost animals that may be in survival mode may not instantly recognize their owners. However, they should be able to recognize their owner’s scent after a short while.

What to Do If You Can’t Find the Owner

If it’s been days or weeks and there still haven’t been any verified leads with regard to the lost pet’s true owner, you’d have to make an important decision on what to do next.


1. Take him to the animal shelter.

Some localities would require you to turn over any lost pet to animal control. If this is the policy in your area and you’re worried that the pet would be harmed if he remains unclaimed after some time, you can ask if it’s possible for you to foster until the owner is found. If you have no choice but to leave the pet in the shelter or with animal rescue, you can still stay actively involved in looking for his owner.


2. Find a new home for the lost pet.

If it’s been a while and you still haven’t located the pet’s owner, then it might be time to find a new home for the lost pet to call his own. You can let friends and family know that you have an adorable fluffy guy who needs a new home, or adopt him yourself. Ask people to help spread the word, in case there’s someone they know who just might be looking for a pet to adopt.


Finding out that your pet has gone missing is indeed very upsetting. If you happen upon a dog or cat that’s seemingly lost, the responsible thing to do is try your best to help the pet get reunited with its owner. However, remember to be wary of crooks who might pose as the owner for personal gain. Take extra care in assessing anyone who comes forward to claim the animal as their pet. Conduct face-to-face meetings during the day, in a public place and insist on seeing proof of ownership.


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