Stray animal.

As a consummate animal lover, you may rejoice at the chance to help a stranded or lost pet. The four-legged friend that took up residence under your deck or on your front stoop might be a stray without a devoted owner. He or she could also have a warm, loving home somewhere with a worried or heartbroken pet parent waiting. How can you figure out where this animal came from?

If you have found a stray or lost pet, these tips from Elmhurst Animal Care Center can help you do right by the animal:

Lost and Found

According to DuPage County Animal Care and Control (DCACC), to initiate the process of finding a pet’s owner, people should complete and submit a found animal report. If the owner of the same missing pet contacts the Elmhurst Police Department at (630) 530-3050, as advised, the missing pet’s information will overlap with its “lost pet” report, and the pet will find his or her way home.

However, if an owner is not found through the police report, tags, or scanning the pet’s microchip after seven days, the unclaimed animal may enter an adoption process, be transferred to another rescue or shelter, or be euthanized.

DCACC reports that a frightening majority of stray cats and dogs brought to their shelter have neither visible identification nor a microchip. If this is your experience, and you’re not quite ready to involve the authorities, consider these DIY options to find the lost pet’s owner:

  • Create a flyer: Distribute a descriptive flyer throughout your neighborhood and surrounding areas that includes a photograph of the pet and the location he or she was found. Some pets are in high demand, such as certain purebreds; consider withholding some key pieces of information, and when callers inquire about the animal you should question their familiarity with the pet in order to avoid a pet scam.
  • Call local shelters: Local shelters, such as the DCACC, may share that a pet owner was inquiring about a similar animal and help you connect with them.
  • Use the internet: Share details about the animal you’ve found across your social media pages and ask your local friends to share as well.

I Found A Stray Pet, Now What?

Whether you’ve found a stray that looks to be new to the streets or one that appears to have been on his or her own for a while, you’ll want to exercise caution when trying to help. Remember, the animal in question is likely scared and hungry, and possibly even injured; therefore you will want to use care when approaching the animal. Here are a few tips for keeping you both safe:

  • Approach the animal with caution, move slowly, and use soothing tones to coax the animal to you
  • If you have gloves with you, you may want to consider wearing them until you know the animal is friendly
  • If possible, slip a lead on the animal (we recommend always having one in your car) so that you can lead the animal to your car, home, or out of the middle of the road, safely
  • If the animal is injured, bring him or her to a vet for care as soon as possible
  • Offer the animal water and food as soon as possible
  • Keep the stray animal separate from your family pets and children until you have verified the health of the animal; you’d hate for a flea infestation (or worse) to invade your life while you play the Good Samaritan

Even if you intend to foster the animal until his or her family is found, we strongly encourage you to bring the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Not only can we scan the animal for a microchip, but we can give him or her a quick check to make sure there are no immediate injuries or illnesses that need attention.

If you have ever found a lost or stray pet yourself, you know that it can be emotionally and physically draining, but also rewarding. Take precautions to protect your family as well as the animal in need and let us know how we can help.