Helping a Stray or Lost Animal | PAWS Chicago

Helping a Stray or Lost Animal

In Chicago, thousands of animals roam our streets each year.

Some have become separated from their families for a variety of reasons while others are strays who may have been born on the streets or are cared for by community caregivers. So, what do you do if you find a lost or stray cat or dog?

  • Check for a Microchip. If the animal is not wearing a tag containing the guardian’s contact information, a veterinary clinic or animal shelter can scan the animal for a microchip. Call in advance of your visit to check if an appointment is necessary and if there are costs for this service (most facilities offer this service free of charge for stray or lost animals).
  • Report the Lost Animal to Your Local City Shelter. If you found a lost pet, chances are good that someone is looking for him. Let your city or municipal shelter know the location where the animal was found as well as any other details you can provide and provide a photograph. If you are able to foster the pet until he is reunited with his owner, ask what the protocol is for this. For example, you may be able to post a flyer at the facility or sign paperwork to keep the pet in your home in lieu of holding the animal at the facility and exposing him to disease, or put him at risk of euthanasia.
  • Call Around. Call local shelters, veterinary clinics and pet stores to alert them of the found dog or cat.
  • Post Flyers. Distribute flyers in a large radius of where the animal was found as he may have roamed far from home before being found. If you are unsure if the animal is lost or a stray, post “Found Dog/Cat” with bold letters and a short, vague description to ensure the correct guardian has been located. Post flyers in local supermarkets, coffee houses, dog parks, bus stops, veterinary offices, and animal shelters, including your local city pound.
  • Advertise. Place an ad in a local newspaper and post on social media pages to spread the word about the lost pet.
  • Post Listings Online. Post information about the lost animal on: Lost Dogs Illinois, Lost Cats Illinois, Fido Find, Craigs List, Pet Harbor and Every Block. If you are contacted about the pet, request proof of ownership (i.e. photos, vet records, description of the pet, type of collar the pet was wearing, etc.).

In Chicago, stray and lost pets are impounded at two main locations:

These shelters are open seven days-a-week and accept strays. If you need a stray animal picked up, call 311 for assistance. If you take the animal to CACC, please call PAWS Chicago at 773-475-9462 with the intake number and we will try to take the pet into our adoption program. Please note, we cannot guarantee that we will bring the animal to PAWS as our intake is determined, based on our existing population and number of adoptions.