Found a pet? What now? Traci D. Howerton “Animal Rescue of New Orleans” column, March 28, 2013

It’s bound to happen: You come across a lost pet. You are not prepared to make him a part of your family, but you want to help him.

What do you do? First of all, please note that his family may very well be looking for him, so do not assume he is abandoned. Think about what you would want someone to do if your pet were lost.

Also, just because a lost pet may look matted, or in bad shape, does not necessarily mean the pet came from a bad home. It could mean the pet has been missing for some time.

If you come across a lost pet, here are some tips to helping him get back to his family:

  • Check to see if the animal has a collar and tags on. Even a rabies tag can help in tracking down the owners.
  • Talk to neighbors to see if anyone recognizes him.
  • Bring him to a vet or shelter to be scanned for a microchip.
  • File a “found” report with shelters. Be sure to file it with all local animal shelters. Animals often travel a long distance in a short amount of time, so just because you found him in your neighborhood does not mean he belongs to a neighbor. He could have traveled from miles away.
  • Make “found” posters and distribute in the area that the animal was found, as well as to vets and groomers.
  • Place a “found” ad in the newspaper.
  • Place a “found” ad on Craiglist and Facebook — it is a good idea to leave out some identifying information and make the owner provide that information and proof of ownership.
  • If you can, hold on to the animal until an owner is found. If no owner is found, and you are not in love, try to find a new home for the pet.
  • If you are unable to find the owner and cannot keep the pet, bring it to a shelter. It is best to bring the animal to the shelter nearest to where it was found.

If you come across a lost pet, following these tips will make for a greater chance of a happy reunion.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends on people who have followed them since Hurricane Katrina. Contact ARNO at, or (504) 571-1900.