Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News

You've found a stray pet. Now what?

Apr 28, 2024 12:23PM ● 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.

1) 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. 

2) Make a found pet report with your local county shelter. 

That’s likely the first place owners will call upon discovering their pet is missing.

3) 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.

4) Post to local Lost & Found Pets groups on Facebook. 

Include 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 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 to your shelter if you’ve found a sick, injured or underage cat outdoors that clearly requires human intervention.


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 El Paso County, 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.

Most county shelters are 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. 

You might also like this article:

Prevent your pet from becoming lost with these 6 tips

Prevent your pet from becoming lost with these 6 tips

During Lost Pet Prevention Month, take these steps to keep your pet safe and secure at home Read More » 

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required
I am a/n...