Reporting a Found Pet

Reuniting Found Pets with their Owners

You’re standing toe-to-paw with a stray pet, now what? The first thing you need to do is assume this pet is lost and check for a collar with ID tags and, if present, immediately call the number on the tags or collar. Often, a pet will have an owner tag, a license and a vet’s tag. Try to call the owner first, and if she doesn't answer, try the vet or the number on the license.                                                        

Lost PetIf the pet is wearing a Contra Costa County license tag, you may go to https://www.petdata.com/ and search for the tag number by entering it in the “Tag Search” field. If identified, it will provide the owner’s contact information, which you can use to contact the owner to let them know you’ve found their lost pet.  This service is available 24/7 and from any device where you can access the internet. This service is a great way to get lost pets home faster in Contra Costa County!

As you may know, many lost pets don’t have collars or tags. Here’s what to do if you find a lost pet that is not wearing any visible forms of identification:

PLEASE NOTE: As the finder of a lost pet, you have a legal responsibility to file a “Found Pet” report with Contra Costa Animal Services and make reasonable attempts to locate the owner(s). 

1) Take it to a vet clinic or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip.  If a microchip scan positively identifies the pet, then you have to decide whether to keep the pet in your care until the owner arrives or leave it with a shelter. This, of course, is a decision only you can make, and it depends entirely on your circumstances. Remember to keep any lost pets separated from your children and other pets. This helps ensure that everyone is safe, so that your good deed doesn’t end badly.

2) If it is a cat, please refer to our Stray & Feral Cats/Kittens page. Animal Service Officer’s do not respond to calls for loose cats unless they are sick or injured.

3) If it is a dog, confine him or her and call 925-608-8400 so an Animal Services Officer can come and pick up the dog as a confined stray.  Remember you will need to be home when the Officer arrives.

4) Call 925-608-8400 and file a found animal report. It's helpful if you can bring or send a picture to include with your report. You may also fill out a report online at Pet Harbor. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Go to the Pet Harbor web site. http://petharbor.com/
  • Enter the zip code or city name where the animal was found
  • Click on "Found a Pet"
  • Choose your search radius and/or select the shelters you would like to search
  • Click on "Search Selected Shelter"
  • Designate animal type and click "Search Now"
  • Near the bottom of the next screen, click on "Stray or Found Dog/Cat."
  • Click on "Register Your Found Pet" - Fill out as much of the information you can on where the pet was found and if possible upload a picture.  If someone registers a lost pet matching the animal you found you will receive an email.
  • Don’t forget to click on “Submit Request” to ensure you receive an email with an activation link.

5) Post on https://nextdoor.com/login/ in the ‘general’ and ‘lost and found’ sections. Make sure to share it with the surrounding neighborhoods. Check to see if the pet’s owner has posted looking for them.

6) Post on the FIDO ALERT Facebook pages, and check to see if the owner has posted:

Fido Alert East Contra Costa County  

Fido Alert West Contra Costa County 

7) Post on Craigslist lost and found and check to see if the owner has posted: 

8) Visit Finding Rover, or download the app, on your Apple or Android mobile device and input the found pet.

9) Put signs up in the neighborhood (obey local sign ordinances), coffee shops, laundry mats and local vet hospitals or pet stores where the pet was found. Make sure signs are eye catching and easy to read.

10) "Tag” your car windows with neon markers. Put up FOUND with dog description and phone number to contact you.

*Once the pet is reunited with his owner, remember to remove signs, notify the shelter and remove/update any website postings.

**You may keep the Found pet in your home provided you file a found report, check for microchip/ID and make concentrated efforts to locate the owner.  If an owner does not come forward, you may be considered the legal owner per CCC Ord. 416-2.010 and after complying with applicable lost property laws in your jurisdiction. 

***The most efficient approach for a person wishing to adopt a stray animal is to take it to an animal shelter and talk with shelter staff.  You could be considered a foster for the organization and after the legal holding period, if it is unclaimed then you may adopt after the legal holding period expires.

Tips for Approaching a Lost Pet

First things first, it’s really important to remember that lost pets are out of their element, and their behavior is often unpredictable. Be mindful of your approach:

  • Do not attempt to catch a scared pet or try to stop traffic when a pet is running in the road as you might get bitten by the pet or get hit by oncoming cars. For animals in traffic call 911.
  • Walk slowly toward the pet.
  • If the pet starts growling, back away.
  • Don’t make any sudden movements, like a quick grab for a collar, or you may provoke the pet into an aggressive behavior.
  • If you can approach the pet without scaring it, try talking to it to give it a little reassurance.
  • Never put yourself at risk when trying to rescue a lost pet. Back away slowly and call animal control for help.  If the dog is not confined, try to keep the dog within sight so when the Officer arrives they can find the dog.  Officers may not be able to respond quickly for a loose dog so it is best to try to confine the dog until they can arrive.

Sick and injured pets are almost always on the defensive, so in those situations, you should call animal control services for help. Even though you want to help, only trained professionals know how to handle these situations in a way that protects the pet and people involved.

For More Information

Long-haired cat

For more information on how to help return a pet to its family, please contact our Lost and Found Volunteer line in Martinez at 925-608-8430 or Pinole at 510-942-4530.

Thank you for taking the time to help "bring our pets home."