Found: What to do if You Find a Stray Animal

Quick Guide
Turn the animal in:
>Who to Call

Keep the animal:
>Care for a stray
>Safe capture
>Humane traps
>Additional resources

please call 1-866-MHUMANE.


Is this animal lost or abandoned?  Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family.  Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor.  The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries.  And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.

Who to Call

If you have found an animal and wish to turn the animal in:
The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility. 

In most parts of Oakland County your first call should be to Oakland County Animal Control.  Their phone number is 248-391-4100.  In some areas you should call additional facilities

In Pontiac you should also call Pontiac Animal Control 248-758-3360,

In Royal Oak 248-546-6304,

In Troy 248-524-3477,

If you are in Macomb County please call 586-469-5115. 

The Michigan Humane Society Rochester Hills Center for Animal Care will accept strays as a last resort. 

If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.

In most parts of Oakland County your first call should be to Oakland County Animal Control.  Their phone number is 248-391-4100.  In some areas you should call additional facilities

In Pontiac you should also call Pontiac Animal Control 248-758-3360,

In Royal Oak 248-546-6304,

In Troy 248-542-3477,

If you are in Macomb County please call 586-469-5115. 

Also, please take the animal to a local veterinarian or animal facility so they can scan him to make sure that he does not have a microchip.

Thank you for taking the time to help the animals.

If you have found an animal that is wearing a Michigan Humane Society Identification Tag

How to Care for a Found Animal - What to Do

Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent "property" disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.

Confine the pet in a safe environment. Give him fresh water and bedding. Do not provide cow's milk, it can cause diarrhea. Keep the animal away from children and other pets if you are unsure of the temperament and health of the animal. Misplaced and hungry animals may be easily startled, defensive or aggressive in an unfamiliar environment. If the animal seems hungry, give it a bowl of pet food. If you have no pet food, consider bland items such as cooked white rice and yogurt for dogs and chicken broth or tuna fish for a cat.

If the animal seems to need veterinary care, take it to your local vet. Please Note: Veterinarians DO NOT provide free care for stray animals. BE PREPARED to pay for any treatment or prescribed medication.

If you find a tag, attempt to return the animal to the rightful guardian. Some license tags are not traceable on weekends or holidays. Do not remove an animal’s collar or tag to read it.

with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal.  The local animal control shelter is often the first place people call and loo for their lost pets.  Note: Michigan law requires reporting the possession of a stray dog within 48 hours.  You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.

Most lost animals are actually close to home. Go door-to-door in the early evening and be on the lookout for people canvassing the area looking for an animal. Check with neighborhood children, as they are often outside playing and can be a valuable resource in location the pet's owner.  Asking mail carriers, newspaper carriers, utility company employees or others working in the area can be helpful as well.

It is crucial that you take the pet to a local veterinarian or a Michigan Humane Society location to have it scanned for a Microchip. Microchips are a form of permanent identification implanted under the animals skin. You will not know that the animal is chipped, but it might be. 

Hang large, colorful posters at major intersections within a 2-3 mile radius from where the animal was found. Put posters up at all local veterinary offices, shopping centers etc. Give flyers to neighbors. For safety purposes do not give your address or full name on the poster. For the safety of the animal, leave at least one crucial piece of information off of the flyers, such as gender.

POST A FREE CLASSIFIED AD ON PETFINDER.COM offers free postings for lost and found pets.  All postings will expire automatically after 14 days.  For more information or to post a found animal on please visit

You can file a found report for FREE. Again, leave out a few crucial details. Don't forget to check the lost reports in the paper, as well. (See Helpful Contact Information)

When people contact you about the pet, have them describe the pet to you! Make them include the crucial detail you have omitted from your advertising. Make sure dates and locations match. Not everyone is ethical in the means they use to obtain animals, some of which may end up in research facilities. If you feel unsure, ask that they supply you copies of photographs or veterinary records. And, of course, meet them in a public place and make sure you have a friend or family member with you. 

Be aware that there are unscrupulous individuals who are looking to take advantage of your situation.  If you are offering a reward, never pay anyone until you have your pet in your possesion.  Be suspicious of anyone who makes monitary demands for the return of your pet.  Some people might contact you claiming they have your pet, but need a $200 reimbursment from you to pay for your animals medical bills when in fact they do not have your pet.  Report any incidents or suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.

If you are not interested in keeping the animal, or trying to find him a new home, you can bring the animal to the shelter for placement. While we cannot guarantee placement, every adoptable animal is given a fair chance at finding a new home. Animals who are extremely ill, injured or who have a history of aggressive behavior may not be put up for adoption. Please call ahead if you plan to bring us an animal.

Tips for the Safe Capture of Animals

Friendly Animals: Calling a friendly animal to you and leading him into a securely fenced yard, garage, or other area and then shutting the door or gate to close the animal inside is perhaps the easiest and safest way to capture a stray. You may want to use a dish of food (canned or dry) to coax him in. Sometimes it is easy to slip a looped leash over the head of a friendly dog.

Frightened or Unfriendly Animals: Do not try to capture animals who are very fearful or who growl or show signs of aggression. Call your local animal control or police for assistance.

Injured Animals: Animals who are injured or ill may bite if you try to pick them up. Call the local animal control or humane society for assistance. If you must try to move an injured animal, use a large heavy blanket to wrap the animal, including the head, and carry the animal to a safe enclosed location. Get medical help immediately.

Use of Humane Live Traps

Cats are often more difficult to capture than dogs.  Never try to leash a cat, as he will be likely to panic and strangle. Humane wire box-shaped live traps are sometimes available from equipment rental companies and some animal shelters.  When used correctly, most cats can be captured in a live trap. The size, bait, timing, and location will influence the success rate of live trapping domestic animals.

  • Select the right size: cat or raccoon size for adult cats, the squirrel size for young kittens. Live traps can also be used to capture stray pet rabbits (although it can be difficult); some animal control agencies have large live traps for dogs who cannot be captured otherwise.
  • Set the trap near the area where you have seen the stray (preferably near shrubs, brush or other cover).
  • For bait, place one tablespoon of canned cat food in the trap, toward the back of the trap and not on the trigger plate so that the animal will be completely inside when the door closes. When trapping rabbits, use small pieces of carrot or lettuce to make a short trail leading into the back of the trap.
  • Cover the top and sides of the trap (except the trap opening) with a towel or blanket.
  • Set the trap trigger.  This varies by model; ask the rental store or animal shelter to show you how.
  • Timing: It’s preferable to set the trap in the evening or morning, when human activity in the area is the lowest.
  • Check the trap every hour or two. Never leave a trap unchecked for longer than 8 hours. You can generally avoid capturing wildlife in the trap by shutting the door overnight and trapping only during dawn or dusk hours.
  • Release don’t move or relocate any wild animals.
  • Transport any trapped domestic animal to the local animal control shelter as soon as possible. Keep the trap covered during transport. Do not transport a trapped animal in the trunk of your car.
  • Removal: Have the animal control staff remove the animal from the trap to avoid injuries.
  • Clean the trap before returning it.

Additional Resources

Finding a Lost Pet

Home Contact Us Privacy Terms of Use