Did you find a dog and don’t know what to do?

Check for a tag or microchip. 

If you’ve found a stray, do the obvious first – check for a tag. If there is a tag, and the owner’s name is on it, call and arrange for a pickup, and know you have done your good deed for the day. If the tag gives the name of a veterinarian’s clinic, call during business hours and get the name and phone number of the owner using the code num­ber on the tag. Then follow up to return the dog or cat. If the animal has no tag, there may still be a way to identify the stray if he/she has been micro­chipped. A veterinarian can help you find out.

If there’s no tag or microchip, put a temporary tag on the animal with your name and phone number. You can use a luggage label or even tape the in­formation around the collar with some duct tape.

Notify your local shelter that you have found a stray animal. 

There are different laws in each city regarding stray animals. In some communities, finders of lost animals are legally required to either surren­der the animal to the animal shelter or to report to the shelter that they have a stray animal. Check with your local animal control or animal services department in your city to find out what your legal obligations are.

Even if you’re not legally required to notify the shelter, you’ll still want to let them know that you have a stray. If the owners of the animal are look­ing for their pet, they will most likely start by call­ing the shelter, so it’s very important that the shel­ter knows that you have found the pet. Also, some shelters have bulletin boards on which people can list lost and found pets, so it’s a good idea to post a photo of the pet at the shelter.

If you have some hesitation about trying to find the owner, keep in mind that just because an animal is injured, scared, or without identification does not mean that he has a “bad” home. Your stray might have lost his identification; he might have been lost for a long time; he may even be a rescued ani­mal who was scared when he was adopted.

If you must take the animal to the shelter, and you wish to do everything you can for the animal, be sure to claim last rights. Claiming last rights gives you adoption privileges if the animal is not claimed within a given time period and is due to be put down. It is a good idea to call the shelter daily to let the staff know that you are interested in the animal’s welfare.

Check Indy Lost Pets


  1. Search the Lost Pet posts for the animal you found

  2. Post the animal that you found

Make every effort to find the owner. 

Besides notifying your local shelter, you’ll want to check lost-and-found ads in the local newspa­pers. Try placing an ad in the lost-and-found sec­tion yourself. Another good strategy is to post flyers in the vicinity where the animal was found.

A typical ad describes the type of animal, the lo­cation where he/she was found, and the coloring and other distinct characteristics of the animal.

You want to leave out some crucial characteristic, though, so that when someone calls claiming to be the owner, you can verify that the animal really belongs to him/her. This helps guard against turn­ing strays over to bunchers (see an explanation of what bunchers are). For example, you could leave out the gender of the animal, or the fact that she has white socks on her front feet or a really bushy tail. Don’t forget to give your phone number and times you can be reached.

Be wary of dishonest callers. 

When someone answers your ad, make sure the person gives you a detailed description of the ani­mal. To ensure that you have found the animal’s real owner, here are a few additional tips:

  • Ask the caller to bring a photo of the animal to the meeting place.

  • Ask for their veterinarian’s phone number, and make a follow-up call.

  • Watch how the animal reacts to the caller in person. If you are not satisfied, ask for more proof of ownership.

  • Remember to get the owner’s phone number and address.

  • Ask them to bring their photo ID.

If you can’t keep the pet our local Indianapolis shelter is:

  1. Indianapolis Animal Care Services
    2600 South Harding Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46221

    P: (317) 327-1397


    Adoption Center Hours:

    10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (M-T, F-Su)
    10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Th)

    Animal Intake Hours:

    10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (M-T, F-Su)
    10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Th)

Content pulled from IACS website March 2019, follow above link for most up-to-date information!