Have you lost or found an animal? Search our help topics for what to do next.
Lost & found animals
A lost pet can be a stressful situation for both the animal and their family. Most animals belong in the neighbourhoods in which they are found and their guardians may be out looking for them.
If you think you have found a lost animal, follow these steps to increase the chances of reuniting them with their family.
5 steps to follow when you find a lost/stray pet
1.) Look for identification (ID)
Collar and/or ID tag: A collar or tag may have the animal’s home number or address. For dogs, some tags are municipal licenses and may not have the guardian’s contact information. In this case, call the BC SPCA or your local Animal Control who can help track down where the animal lives.
Microchips: Microchips are a reliable form of electronic permanent ID inserted under the animal’s skin. If you do not see a visible form of ID, the animal may have a microchip. You can take the pet to your nearest veterinary clinic, Animal Control agency or BC SPCA shelter to have the animal scanned for a microchip at no charge.
Ear tattoo: If the animal has an ear tattoo, contact the BC Pet Registry, a local veterinary clinic or animal control agency to trace it. If the tattoo is difficult to read, bring the animal to one of the above locations to read it at no charge. Some vet clinics also keep lost and found pet records and posters.
Other tattoos: Some animals may have a breeder tattoo on their abdomen or inside leg. In this case, contact your local BC SPCA location or Animal Control shelter. Often these tattoos are only traceable through the original breeder.
2.) Use the web
Post to social media: Take a quality photo of the animal and circulate it on your Facebook or Twitter networks with the location in which it was found. Encourage your friends to share the photo on their page.
Search online: There are websites dedicated to helping lost animals return to their guardians. These Canadian sites host searchable lost and found animal postings. On each of these websites, you can also publish a “found pet” post:
- BC SPCA Pet Search (search lost animal posts and create a free “found pet” post)
- Missing Pets in BC (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)
- Craigslist (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)
3.) Search the neighbourhood
Talk to people in the neighbourhood: Neighbours in the area, especially other pet guardians, may know the pet you found. Talking with people may help you find the guardian without the animal having to go to the shelter. If you found the animal in a yard or in front of a residence, knock on the door of that home and kindly ask if it’s their pet or if they know the guardian.
Put up posters: Create your own eye-catching poster or make one for free with the BC SPCA Pet Search. Include a photo, description of the animal, where it was found, and a contact phone number. Post these in as many places as possible near where the animal was found (grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles).
4.) Contact your local BC SPCA shelter or animal control
Report the animal as found. Let them know if you are willing to hold onto the animal until the guardian comes forward. If you’re unable to hold on to the animal, please contact our BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for direction on where to take the animal.
5.) Found the pet’s guardian?
If you find the guardian, please remember to contact the groups keeping records and let them know the animal is no longer lost.
What if the animal is not approachable?
Consider your own safety first. If the animal appears unapproachable, do not attempt to catch it. Call your local BC SPCA, Animal Control, police or RCMP.
A lost pet can be a stressful situation for both the animal and their family. Follow the steps below or watch our video for more information. Have you found someone’s pet? Learn what to do.
5 steps to follow when you lose a pet
1.) Search the neighbourhood
Search the area in which your pet was lost: Walk or drive through your neighbourhood several times a day, especially early in the morning and at dusk when it is quieter. Call your pet’s name and try shaking a bag of their favourite treats.
Ask around: Talk to neighbours, store owners, joggers, garbage collectors, mail carriers and others. Ask them to be on the lookout for your pet. Your pet may be nearby but too scared to come out, even for you. Ask neighbours if you can search in nearby bushes, garages or sheds.
Try the power of scent: Place a recently worn piece of clothing or one of your pet’s favourite toys outside. Animals have a keen sense of smell and familiar smells can bring them home. For indoor cats, try placing their litter box outside.
Put up posters: Create an eye-catching “lost pet” poster. You can make one for free when you create an account with the BC SPCA Pet Search. Include a photo, description of the animal, where they were lost and a contact phone number. Post these in as many places as possible near the area in which your pet was lost (grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles, etc.)
2.) Use the web
Post to social media: Use Facebook or Twitter to circulate photos of your pet. Include details such as the area in which they went missing, the day/time of the incident and your contact information. Encourage your friends to share the photo on their page.
Search online: There are websites dedicated to helping lost and found animals return to their guardians. On sites such as the BC SPCA Pet Search, you can create a free account to post a listing or search Found Pet profiles posted by fellow users. You can also search pets brought in as strays to select BC SPCA locations.
- BC SPCA Pet Search (search found animals at the BC SPCA, create a free poster and a “lost pet” post)
- Missing Pets in BC (search found animals and create a “lost pet” post)
- Craigslist (search found animals and create a “lost pet” post)
- Petsearchers Canada (pet detective and tracking service)
3.) Update your pet’s ID registration information
If your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license is registered with the BC Pet Registry, our provincial ID database, you can update your information online or contact our call centre at 1-855-622-7722.
If your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license is registered with a veterinary clinic or municipality, please contact them to make sure your information is up to date.
4.) Visit BC SPCA shelters, animal control and veterinary clinics
Often shelters have several animals matching your pet’s description. Visit the shelter every 24 hours rather than calling.
Check BC SPCA shelters: Find out if your local BC SPCA takes in stray animals. All stray animals brought to BC SPCA shelters can be found online using our pet search.
Check animal control (City Pounds): Visit your local city pound or call them to see if an animal matches your pet’s description.
Check veterinary clinics and animal hospitals: If your pet was found injured, they may be at a nearby veterinary clinic or animal hospital.
5.) Don’t give up searching for your pet!
Continue to search for your pet even if you think there is little hope. Many animals who have been lost for months or years have been reunited with their guardians.
Was your pet stolen?
If you have evidence that leads you to believe your pet was stolen, contact the police on their non-emergency line. Permanent identification, such as tattoos or microchips, can help authorities track your animal.