What do I do if I find a lost pet?

Northwest neighbor Heidi Normandin wrote a primer for Lowry on what to do if you find a lost pet:

Dear neighbors:

I volunteer at a large shelter in Denver. If you find a lost dog, there are a couple things you can do to more quickly reunite him with his owner. (Of course if the dog has a collar and tags, it’s simple…just call the owner.)

If the dog does not have tags, please take him immediately to a vet office or the Dumb Friends League or another shelter where he can be scanned for a microchip. If he has a chip and you took him to a vet office, you can then decide if you want to keep the dog in your care (since vet offices typically don’t deal with lost dogs). You can contact the microchip company directly and let them know the dog is in your care in your home. The company will contact the dog’s owner and give them your phone number.

Or you can take him to a shelter, where the volunteers and staff there will work VERY hard to find the owners, even if the owners have not updated their contact information with the microchip company. (They scour Facebook, Linked In, the internet…anything to get a lead on an owner.)

Please don’t keep a lost dog in your backyard or in your home without checking if he has a microchip. Here are some reasons why it’s best not to send an email out to the neighborhood:

1) How will you be able to verify that the person picking up the dog is actually the owner? Although rare, people do steal dogs.

2) The hours or days that you keep a dog at your home are precious hours that someone may be calling every shelter looking for their dog. You are assuming that the dog is from this neighborhood, and it’s very possible the dog traveled from another neighborhood. Shelters keep an extensive list of owners who have called to report a lost dog.

3) A vet office or shelter can do a superficial check on the dog to make sure he does not have any health problems that need immediate attention.

4) Because the dog is in an unfamiliar place, he is very likely to escape again, and now the dog is lost all over again. This delay can be heartbreaking for an owner trying to find their dog.

5) If a dog is a habitual escaper, the shelter would know about it and might suspect something is going on at the home. The shelter can send a field investigator to the home to see if the home is unsafe or if the owners are neglecting their pet(s).

Perhaps people worry that taking the dog to a shelter means a death sentence because they have visions that lost dogs are put down. This could not be further from the truth. The shelters in the city are all equipped to help reunite lost dogs with their owners. There are staff and volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise doing just that.

From the city of Denver’s website:
If you have found a lost pet in the City and County of Denver and can not house the animal, you are welcome to bring the animal to our facility located at 1241 W Bayaud Ave, Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The animal shelter is closed on Sundays and Holidays. After regular business hours, the animal shelter provides two night drop off boxes for found pets.

If you have found a lost pet in the City and County of Denver and would like the animal picked up by an animal control officer, you may contact the 3-1-1 Call Center at 720-913-1311. You must be 18 years of age and home for approximately two hours for an officer to respond.

If you have found a pet with identification tags and would like to try and contact the pet owner, contact the City and County of Denver’s 3-1-1 Call Center at 720-913-1311. An animal control staff member will return your call to assist in the tag trace.