If you have found a pet without identification, there are two options available:
- Keep the animal while looking for its owner, or
- Bring the animal to a shelter.
Keeping an Animal While Looking for its Owner
Many people want to spare a lost pet from having to spend time in an animal shelter – and that’s a good thing! You don’t have to bring a found animal to VAO (or any shelter), and can keep it in your home while you look for its owner. While doing so, make sure to:
- Call your local animal control office to report the found animal. If you’re not sure of their phone number, call your local police non-emergency number.
- Call local shelters to report a found animal – this document lists shelters in Camden County and the townships they serve.
- Post a “found” message on one or more of the many lost & found pages on social media. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (we’ll keep an eye out here). Don’t forget to update everyone if your pet is found!
- Post flyers around town or take out an ad in a local newspaper.
- Take the animal to a vet or shelter to be scanned for a microchip. If found, it may contain contact information for the owners.
- If none of these steps help you locate a pet’s owners, consider adopting it yourself! A found animal is eligible for adoption after being reported to animal control and held for the requisite stray period (7 days).
Bringing an Animal to the Shelter
You can also bring a found animal to VAO (or whichever shelter serves your township). It’s best to call ahead to make an appointment. You will be asked some basic questions concerning where the animal was found and if it was wearing any identification. When the animal arrives at the shelter, staff will use all available resources to reunite the animal with its owner. Stray animals are held for the state-mandated 7 day period before being placed up for adoption.
A Note About Outdoor Cats
Owners are allowed to let their cats outdoors in the State of New Jersey. If you have found a cat – especially a friendly one – you might actually have someone’s pet who has either been let out or escaped the house. Outdoor cats are much more likely to find their own way home than to be reunited with their owner by any other method – less than 5% of cats brought to shelters are returned to their owners. Bringing a free-roaming cat to the shelter, unless it is in need of medical care, is the least effective way for that cat to get home. The best thing you can do for a healthy, adult cat who is not in imminent danger is allow him or her to find their own way home, and only intervene if you are concerned for the cat’s safety.