What to do when you find a stray animal

If you have some hesitation about trying to find the animal’s owner, keep in mind that just because an animal is injured, scared, or without identification does not mean that he/she has a “bad” home.  Your stray might have lost his/her identification or he/she might have been lost for a long time.

1. Check for a tag or microchip.

If you have found a stray, check for a tag.  If there is a tag, and the owner’s name is on it, call and arrange for a pickup.  If the tag gives the name of a veterinarian’s clinic, call with the code number on the tag.  If the animal has no tag, there may still be a way to identify the stray if he/she has been microchipped.  A veterinarian or Mississippi Animal Rescue League, 601-969-1631, should be able to scan the pet for a microchip.  Also, contact your local animal control officer for they may be able to scan the lost pet too.

2. Notify your local shelter(s), local animal control officer(s) and veterinary clinic(s) that you have found a stray animal.

If the owners of the animal are looking for their pet, they will most likely start by calling or visiting the shelter, so it is very important that the shelter knows that you have found the pet.  Also, the owner may contact their veterinarian or local animal control to let them know their pet is lost.   Most veterinary clinics have bulletin boards where they will allow you to post a flyer.

Local Shelters:  

Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL) – 601-969-1631

Rankin County Animal Shelter – 601-824-2024

Community Animal Rescue and Adoptions (CARA) – 601-922-7575

Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) – 769-216-3492

3.  Make every effort to find the owner.

Besides notifying your local shelter, you will want to check lost-and-found ads in the local newspapers, Craigslist and NextDoor.  Try placing an ad in the lost-and-found section yourself. (Ask about a free ad)  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, their coloring and any other distinct characteristics of the animal.  Also, find the mail carrier for that area.  They tend to know where pets may live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

4.  What to do when the owner cannot be found.

If you do need to find a new home for a pet, you will want to advertise as widely as you can, in as many places as possible.  Creating a flyer is a great way to start.  Here is what you will want to include in the flyer:

  • Describe the appearance, size and age of the animal

  • Include the pet’s name and a good photograph

  • If the pet is spayed or neutered

  • Define any limitations the pet may have, e.g., not good with small children or cats

  • Your phone number and the times you can be reached

Post the flyers throughout your community, wherever a good prospective adopter might see them.  Ask to put them up at veterinarians’ offices, pet supply stores, and the workplaces of your family and friends.  Places like supermarkets, libraries, churches and health clubs often have community bulletin boards where anyone can post flyers.

You can find local listings of breed rescue groups by doing an Internet search if you are trying to place a specific breed.

Place a classified ad in your local newspaper (Ask about a free ad) and on Craigslist and NextDoor with the same information that was placed on the flyer.

Post the pet on adoption websites.  There are general adoption websites, as well as specific sites for certain types of animals, e.g., FIV positive cats, disabled pets or senior pets.  Also, sites such as Petfinder, petfinder.org, and Pet Bond, petbond.com, are good examples too.

Use any and all of your community contacts.  Post a notice and photo on your Facebook page, Instagram and other social media sites. Look for your city or county's lost and found pet Facebook groups and post there as well.

Please remember, if you do put them up for adoption, you can always make it a stipulation that you be allowed to make a home check before finalizing the adoption.


Good luck!!


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  • Rebecca Risen
    I have been looking for good people to help me with my puppies and dog. I had been unsuccessful in all the traditional ways to no avail. I found these guys and they were wonderful and kind. It’s great to know there are people who still care out there. I’m truly greatfulo them and hoping to help them anyway I can. Many thanks you guys. There are truly angels here on Earth and I think I found a few.🦄🐲🐆🦨🦚🦟 Sincerely,
    The Ramos family and Pets
  • Shelby Sifers
    Hi Niki, you can see what services are closest to you here: http://www.msspan.org/locate_services