What to Do if You Find a Stray Dog or Cat

So you love animals, but do you know what to do if you come across a stray dog or cat? Your actions could be crucial in reuniting an animal with his or her family. Or you may be able to help the animal find a safe and loving forever home.

Here’s what you should do if you find a stray dog or cat:

1. Secure the animal.

  • If you spot an animal, don’t leave the scene or let the animal out of your sight. Many stray dogs and cats are fearful of people, so be patient and persistent.
  • Be prepared! Consider purchasing an animal-rescue kit to keep in your car as well as a can of wet food to help attract animals.
  • If you happen to find a young animal, be sure to check the area for his or her mother and potential siblings.

2. Check for tags and injuries.

Once you’ve gotten the animal to safety, check for identification and any visible injuries. If he or she has tags, call the number that’s listed and arrange a reunion. If the animal is injured, be careful not to irritate the area and immediately take him or her to the nearest shelter.

If the dog or cat appears to be neglected or abused, take the animal straight to the authorities rather than the guardian.

If you take the animal to an open-admission shelter, be sure to save any information that the shelter gives you, such as an ID number.

3. Spread the word!

If you’ve taken the animal to a shelter, create a flier and hang it up in a 2-mile radius surrounding the area in which you found the animal. On the flier, include a photo of the animal and your contact information so that the guardian can call you.

Remember that we’re often animals’ biggest defenders, only allies, and best chance at survival. If we don’t stop to help them, who will?


Share this page with your friends now to recruit more compassionate people to always stop and help when they spot an animal in need.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind