You've found a stray pet. Now what?Oct 31, 2023 09:42AM ● By Jenna Kretschman
First, give yourself a pat on the back for helping a pet out of danger and hopefully back home with their loving family! Your initial instinct might be to take this pet directly to an animal shelter, but by heeding the following steps first, you may help your new friend get back to their family more quickly and save precious kennel space within your local shelter.
Upon finding a lost pet, first check for identification on their collar. Home may be just a phone call away! Walk the area and inquire with your neighbors. Chances are the pet is near home and someone will recognize them.
Make a found pet report with your local county shelter, like Mesa County Animal Services (970-242-4646), Roice-Hurst Humane Society’s Delta Satellite Facility (970-874-1078), or Montrose Animal Services (970-240-1487), as that’s likely the first place owners will call upon discovering their pet is missing.
Take the pet to any veterinary office or animal shelter to have them scanned for a microchip. A microchip is a tiny device implanted within a pet’s skin that, when scanned, can reveal pet owners’ contact information and notify them that their pet has been found.
Post to local Lost & Found Pets groups on Facebook, including a photo of the pet and location they were found. It’s also wise to search these groups for missing pets matching your new buddy’s description.
If you still haven’t located the family, your next steps depend on the type of pet you’ve found and your own capacity to care for the pet.
IF YOU’VE FOUND A STRAY CAT
If you’ve found a cat roaming around outdoors, chances are that cat knows exactly where they are and how to get home. In many cases, removing a cat from their familiar environment does more harm than good. Because cats can legally freely roam, animal shelters are generally unable to accept healthy adult cats found outdoors—but please do reach out if you’ve found a sick, injured or underage cat outdoors that clearly requires human intervention.
IF YOU’VE FOUND A STRAY DOG
If you’ve found a stray dog and are unable to hold onto them any longer, you can bring them to your local county shelter. Animal control works differently within different counties, but in Western Colorado, the process is the same: the dog will serve a five-day stray hold to allow their family time to reclaim them. After 5 days, the dog will usually enter an adoption program or be transferred to a partnering nonprofit shelter.
Mesa County Animal Services (MCAS) and Montrose Animal Services (MAS) are the animal law enforcement agencies in Mesa and Montrose counties, which means they are responsible for sheltering lost and found animals, investigating cruelty and neglect cases, enforcing animal-related laws and other important duties that keep local pets and people safe. MCAS is funded by tax dollars, while nonprofit shelters like Roice-Hurst Humane Society are funded by donations.
Like most county shelters, MCAS is almost always at capacity, which is why they work closely with nonprofit shelters to ensure all adoptable pets find loving homes. This is only possible thanks to inter-agency collaboration, community support and compassionate people who help lost pets find their way home before ever having to enter a shelter!
If you’ve found a pet and need guidance on your next steps, reach out to your local county shelter.
Jenna is Roice-Hurst Humane Society’s Communications Coordinator. Contact her at [email protected]