What to do if you found a lost pet


Check tag and microchip

If the pet is wearing a collar, check for an ID tag. Then take the animal to a veterinarian or animal shelter to scan for a microchip containing information that will link to the pet’s owner.


Contact animal control

Contact animal control in area that you found the pet to file “Found Report.” The best way to reunite pets is to make sure they stay in the area. Some counties have laws that require surrender to animals control. Click here for a directory of shelters.


Make a “found pet” post

Make a found pet post, including a photo, on Petco Love Lost. This online platform uses facial recognition tools to match lost and found pets. The Maryland SPCA and other area shelters are Petco Love Lost partners and refer people looking for their pets there.


Post flyers

Post flyers in the area you found the pet. If you can’t hold onto the pet while you search for its owner, call your local Animal Control agency or take the animal to the closest animal shelter where you found the pet.


Check social sites

Check internet and social media sites for lost pet postings and post information about the pet you found. That includes neighborhood sites like Nextdoor, along with all the Facebook lost-and-found pages identified below. Leave multiple ways for people to contact you.

Tips for returning pets to their owners


Remove collar for photo

If the found pet is wearing a collar, remove the collar before taking a photo of the pet.


Don’t give too much info

When starting a dialog with the pet’s potential owner, don’t give out too much information about the pet you found. The key is to have the potential owner provide you with details about their missing pet to confirm they are indeed the actual owner. (Examples include color of collar, name on the tag, unusual scars or markings.)


When meeting a potential owner

  • Pick a public place to meet (a place where other people are present and one that is well lit.)
  • Do not meet at their house or invite them to your home.
  • Have a friend or family member accompany you to this meeting. This is for both your safety and the pet who might the be “escape-artist type.”
  • Keep the pet on a leash or in a carrier at all times.
  • Arrive before your scheduled meeting to observe the potential owner and their behavior as they arrive.
  • Bring your cell phone. If at any time you feel threatened or unsafe, call the authorities for assistance.

If at any point you become uncomfortable, please contact animal control in the area you found the pet. Share all information with them so that they can mediate and determine the best resolution for all.


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