Found a lost pet?
Over the last few years, and through the recent challenges, we’ve begun to see how a critical shift, and a different path forward, can actually save the lives of the animals in our community without having animals languish in shelters. There will always be a need for shelters to help animals in emergency situations and victims of animal cruelty, but the real safety net for pets is a caring community – neighbors helping neighbors.
Take 48 is an initiative to help more lost pets get back home to their families. Given that most dogs will be found less than a mile away from their home, taking them to the shelter could impede their chances of ever finding their family again. We are encouraging all finders to take 48 hours and follow a few quick steps first to help that pet, before bringing them to the shelter.
For questions regarding lost and found pets, please email our teams in Fulton County or DeKalb County.
Our Fulton and DeKalb County Animal Services shelters have limited housing space. We are accepting animals from emergency situations or in critical need. Healthy pets do poorly in the shelter environment and are more likely to find their family in their community. No pet should ever be abandoned. We are asking for community assistance with found pets to help increase family reunions and reduce unnecessary surrenders.
For information on how to help healthy found pets, please scroll below to explore each option before bringing one to our shelters.
For any further questions, please visit our FAQs regarding emergency shelter protocols at this time. See here for DeKalb County protocols and here for Fulton County protocols.
They were lucky to find someone caring like you to help get them back home. Here is what you need to know to give this lost pet their best chance at reuniting with their family.
If the dog is not friendly, do not approach them. Try to take their photo and follow step number 3 below to find their owner. Then contact Fulton or DeKalb County Field Enforcement, depending on which county you live in. If you live in another county, contact your county’s animal services. If the dog is injured or seems dangerous, call 911 and an animal control officer will be dispatched.
Within the First Hour
- Check for ID. Some pets have a collar with the phone number stitched in, or a tag with a number that you can call to locate the pet parent.
- Take a photo. Alert your neighbors about the found dog. Snap a photo of the pet and post it on Nextdoor, your neighborhood social media group and your social media accounts. Follow these tips from HeartsSpeak for taking photos of a found pet!
Within the Next Few Hours
- Bring the pet to the nearest veterinarian and get a free microchip scan. Also, two City of Decatur Fire Departments are partnering with LifeLine to offer free microchip scans: 230 E. Trinity Place fire station and 356 W. Hill Street fire station.
- Walk the dog around the neighborhood to see if anyone might recognize them.
Within the First 24 Hours
- Make a found pet flyer and hang it within a 1-mile radius of where you found the pet. PetFBI has a helpful online found pet flyer template.
- Fill out a Found Pet Report with Fulton County Animal Services or DeKalb County Animal Services.
- Upload a photo to Petco Love Lost, a free online service that uses facial recognition technology to reunite lost pets with their owners.
- Search local Lost & Found pet alert sites to see if an owner has already posted this pet. If not, create a found pet alert on Pawboost and Helping Lost Pets.
If you haven’t found a lost pet’s family in 48 hours and live in Fulton or DeKalb County, consider becoming a Friendly Finder. Through the program, you’ll keep the dog for just five days during their mandatory hold period. This increases the chances of finding the pet’s family nearby, keeps them out of the shelter and saves space for other animals in need. We’ll take the dog’s picture for our website and provide the vaccines, de-wormer and flea treatment.
- If you find a healthy adult cat outdoors, alert your neighbors. Snap a photo of the pet and post it on NextDoor, your neighborhood social media group, and your social media accounts.
- If the adult cat is injured or looks malnourished or sick, take them to a vet or bring them into your county’s shelter.
The cat could be an owned outdoor cat or a community cat. Community cats are often happiest outdoors and some will have an ear tip. The best thing you can do for community cats is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) – have them spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their familiar environment. Read more about TNR and how to help community cats. For more information about what to do if you find a cat outside, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you find stray kittens, their best chance at survival is leaving them where they are and waiting for mom. Don’t pick them up until you’ve read the information below.
Follow these steps to determine what to do if you find stray kittens.
Are the kittens visibly dirty, cold, underweight, sick or injured?
YES – Bring them to your county shelter or the closest veterinarian, immediately.
NO – Their mother is likely taking great care of them and out hunting for food. Estimate the kittens’ age by what they look like.
- Eyes still closed or just beginning to open: 1–2 weeks old.
- Eyes open and alert, becoming mobile: 2–4 weeks old.
- Very mobile and often talkative, can eat food: 4–6 weeks old.
- Very active and playful, around 1–2 lbs: 6–8 weeks old
- Very active and playful, around 2 lbs or more: 8+ weeks old.
- At 2 weeks old, kittens will be nursing every 4-6 hours. Mom will begin weaning them at 4 weeks and by 8 weeks, they should be fully weaned.
Can you see the nest or hiding spot?
YES – Gently return the kittens to the nest where the mother will provide care.
NO – If the kittens are in danger (near a busy road, out in the open where predators may find them, etc.), move the kittens to a safe space and watch from a distance.
The kitten’s best chance of survival is with mom, especially for kittens under 4 weeks old. When waiting for her return, distance yourself so she cannot see or smell you.
If the mother cat doesn’t return after 6+ hours, are you willing to temporarily care for the kittens?
YES – Great! If these kittens were found in Fulton or DeKalb county, reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know. Our vet staff will examine the litter and give you supplies and instructions.
NO – Bring the kittens to your county shelter or a rescue group.
For detailed information about caring for underage kittens, check out KittenLady.org.
And don’t forget, wherever there are kittens, there are cats! Always work to sterilize the local community cats in order to prevent future births.
County shelters handle domestic animals. If you find sick, injured or abandoned wildlife, please visit one of the following websites for further instructions:
Tips For Preventing Lost Pets
Keep your pet indoors or safely confined to a fenced area.
Having your pet microchipped is a quick, painless and easy way to ensure that if your pet gets loose, you will be contacted if they come into a shelter. You can have your pet microchipped at LifeLine’s Clinics or at any veterinarian’s office. Keep your microchip information updated if you move.
Inexpensive tags can be purchased from local pet stores. Include your phone number and address. Get a new tag each time you move or change phone numbers.
Unaltered pets have hormonal instincts to seek out a mate when in heat. In order to prevent this, have your pet spayed or neutered. LifeLine provides low-cost spay and neuter services.
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