It happens all the time. A dog appears in your yard or you find a cat while your out on a walk. Even though the animal isn’t yours, you invite it into your home. At this point, you find yourself in the crossroads of an ethical decision. Do you keep the lost pet or do you make an effort to track down the owners?
Protocol for Finding Lost Pets
While you might think it’s up to you to decide if you want to keep the pet or find it’s owner, California lawmakers think differently. Many lawmakers are animal lovers who have gone through the agony of having a cherished pet disappear. In an effort to help lost pets reunite with their devastated owners, the lawmakers passed legislation that requires that you report the found animal within 48 hours of finding them.
You can report the lost animal to animal control, the local police, or a local vet clinic. This gives the owner a chance to contact the same organizations as they attempt to track down the missing pet. In most cases, as soon as you contact animal control or the vet clinic, you’ll find the owner has already reported the missing animal. At that point, the only thing left for you to do is arrange for the owner to pick up their missing pet.
Don’t be surprised if you’re told that you have to bring the pet in and have it scanned for a microchip.
What Happens if you Don’t Report a Found Pet?
Not reporting that you’ve found a pet within 48 hours means you’re facing a misdemeanor charge. The good news is that if you have reported the found pet and no one claims them, you are free to keep the pet.
Tips for Reuniting Found Pets with their Owners
It is always in your best interest to reunite a found pet with its owner. This can be a problem if it doesn’t have a microchip. The good news is that you’re not out of options. In addition to contacting the local shelters, animal control, and vet clinics about the animal, you should also post it in local social media groups. These groups are often the first place devastated owners go when they’re trying to find their missing pet.
If you’re a pet owner, it’s in your best interest to get your pet microchipped. It drastically increases the chances of you enjoying a happy reunion if the worst happens and your pet somehow escapes.