At Guelph Lake Vet we always encourage our clients to have some kind of permanent identifier on their pet, whether that be a micro chip or tattoo. Collar tags are also very important for helping a lost pet get home quickly and safely. Regrettably, companion animals are lost every day and they don't always make their way back home when there isn't a way to identify them.
What should you do if you've found what appears to be a lost pet? We recommend that you first try to find the owner - most pets are lost in the neighbourhood where they live, and the pet's people could be looking for them already.
Step 1 - Be cautious
Remember that the pet may be confused and scared. It could be difficult to get close enough to a dog or cat that is anxious to find it's way home. Be conscious of the pet's behaviour and don't put yourself at risk if they are aggressive or acting strangely.
Step 2 - Get control of the pet
Leash the pet so that you can keep an eye on them, and ensure that they have some water nearby since they may be thirsty after their adventures!
Step 3 - Check for indentification
If the pet has a collar and an ID tag, this should be your first point of contact. It might be a registration number if they have a license with the city/region, or it could be a phone number to call.
There are a few permanent identifiers that people can choose for their pet:
Ear Tattoo - the pet may have a tattoo inside their ear, which can be traced back to a veterinarian who can often locate the owner.
Microchip - unfortunately, there's no way to know if a pet has a microchip (a small electronic chip embedded under the pet's skin) without scanning for one. A veterinarian or an animal shelter can check for a microchip.
If there is no easily visible identification on the pet, more action will be required.
Step 4 - Spread the word
Use the internet! If you are connected to people in your community via Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, post a picture of the pet and the general area where it was found. If word spreads, the owner or someone who knows the pet might be able to connect.
Talk to local veterinary clinics and let them know the description of the pet you've found.
Call your local Humane Society - the owner may have gotten in touch with them in case the pet was turned over to the Humane Society, and the staff may be able to offer suggestions about what to do next.