"I've Found a Pet"

Due to an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus, stray animals should not be brought to the shelter for their own safety. Follow the tips below on reuniting lost pets. Can you hang onto the animal? You can be a Friendly Finder and foster the pet! If you are unable to locate an owner and are unable to safely house the animal, call the center at 240-773-5900 and speak to our staff to assist you in finding alternate housing arrangements while we continue to search for an owner. We're asking that if you are unable to hold the animal you allow us some time to find someone who can before bringing the animal in and potentially exposing them to CIV.

If you have found a stray or loose animal, it’s likely that he or she has an owner who either doesn’t yet realize their pet is missing, or is already looking for them. It would be so easy if they could just let us know where they live, but of course they can’t! Luckily, there are so many ways that you can still help a missing pet get back home. But did you know that you can likely help reunite a found pet with their owner without even bringing them to the Animal Services Center?

Making an effort to reunite a found pet with their owner before bringing them to the Animal Services Center can expedite the time it takes to reunite the pet with their owner, reduce stress on the animal, and will help alleviate the strain on Adoption Center resources. Many pets are found by neighbors within close proximity to the pet's home. MCASAC relies on community members to assist us in limiting shelter intakes to animals that are truly homeless or suffering, critical care or cruelty and neglect cases, and animals who pose a threat to public safety. 

First Steps

1. If you are able to, get the pet to a safe and secure area. Do not chase a loose animal into traffic or near busy roads. Even friendly pets are likely to become a flight risk when an unfamiliar human startles them with quick movements or loud yelling. Herding or directing the loose pet into a secure, quiet area, or luring them with treats and a gentle tone will keep both you and the loose pet safe.

2. Check for identification. Check if the animal is wearing a collar and has an ID tag or a license tag. If the animal is wearing any identification, call or text the number written on the collar or tag, or visit the address listed on the collar or tag, and set up a reunion.

3. Knock on doors. Check with your neighbors or other people in the area. They may know the dog and can help you locate its home. Recent data suggest that most dogs are found within just 1,000 feet of their home. You can save a lot of time and use of resources if you learn that the owner lives right in the neighborhood you’re already in! Walk the dog around the area the pet was found in and see if anyone recognizes it.

4. Take photos of the animal, preferably with decent lighting to properly capture their color, size, and appearance. Make sure to photograph the animal without altering their appearance. If possible, includer or document street signs, landmarks, or the area where dog was found.

Second Steps ​

1. Check for a microchip. Even an animal who is not wearing or has lost their collar may have a microchip containing identifying information. To scan a found pet for a microchip, you can visit our Animal Services center during operating hours or visit any local veterinary clinic.

2. File a Found Pet Report. You can submit a found pet report online by visiting 24PetConnect’s website, by calling us at (240) 773-5900 during regular business hours, or in person by visiting the Animal Services Center during regular business hours.

3. Post the animal on your area Lost and Found Pets social media pages. These pages include Facebook, Nextdoor, Craigslist’s "Lost and Found" section, or a neighborhood listserv. Provide as much detail as possible about their physical appearance including their coat color, approximate size, and collar color, etc. Refrain from trying to identify the breed of the animal, as visual breed identification is unreliable and may accidentally throw the owner off the track. However you may want to include a breed types such as terrier, retriever, bully breed, spaniel, etc. Post a picture showing exactly how the animal looked when you found it.

You can also create a Found Pet profile on Petco Love Lost, which uses facial recognition to match lost and found postings.

4. Make and post flyers. Hang bright, colorful flyers in heavy traffic areas and public spaces within a 1–2-mile radius around the area you found the missing pet. You can use an online 'Found Pet' template to help you get started.

Keep it simple: “LOST DOG/CAT!” should be at the top in large, easy to read, bold letters. The posters should be big enough that people could see them passing by quickly in a car, with large text indicating “found dog,” a basic description and a large, clear photo. Again, don’t try to guess the breed, age, etc. in case you’re incorrect. Stick to colors and unique identifying features so many people will respond.

You can use an online found pet flyer template to help you get started.

Can you hold onto the pet for 48 hours?

Pets typically do not wander very far from home, so chances are that someone is looking for them close to where they were found. Keeping a found pet at home helps keep shelter population low and prevents the missing pet from being housed in a high-stress environment.

If you do take in a lost pet, it is always best to house the animal separately from other pets and from small children. Try to keep the environment as low-stress as possible.

If you are not able to house the animal safely and still have not found an owner, call the Animal Services Center during regular business hours at 240-773-5900 and we will assist with alternative placement. If you have a safety concern call 301-279-8000 to reach an Animal Services Officer. 

Kitten Reunification Tips

When we find a litter of kittens, our good-hearted instincts tell us to rush to the aid of these fragile felines. However, human intervention is typically not required. Oftentimes, the best thing we can do is leave the kittens alone. Mom will likely return shortly, and it’s critical that the kittens remain in her care, as she offers the best chance for survival.

If you are unsure of what action to take if any, please give our Animal Services Officers a call at 301-279-8000.


Cat Reunification Tips

Most cats you see outdoors are not in need of intervention and should be left where they are. So first determine whether this is a cat in need of immediate attention such as being sick or injured.  Signs that a cat is sick or injured include bleeding, limping or being unable to walk on all legs, swollen, clouded, leaky, or otherwise painful eyes, being visibly underweight, slow or staggered breathing, panting, hunched in pain, missing fur or painful, scabbed or infected skin, or inability or resistance to move, drink, or eat.

If the cat is not in danger or sick/injured, do not bring the cat indoors; leave him in place, or return the cat to the exact location you picked him up so he may return home on his own. You may provide f ood/water support.

If you remain concerned about a loose cat, you’re encouraged to take a clear photo and document the location you last saw the cat on Nextdoor or Facebook.

75% of cats are found within a 0.3 mile radius of where they went missing, though indoor-outdoor cats may be more likely to travel a bit further. 

External Resources:

​Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact us if you are interested in adopting the stray pet you found should his owner not come forward.