What to do if you find lost pets in Miami
As pet sitters, we receive a lot of frantic calls for help relocating lost pets in Miami. Finding a lost pet can be a harrowing experience, but luckily we have many resources available to us to help make the process easier for both human and animal. We’ve written this blog post as a guide on what to do if you find lost pets in Miami, complete with links to lost and found sites. Please share with your friends!
1. Think safety first.
We’re animal lovers, which means sometimes we use our hearts before our heads when we see a lost dog or cat. It’s important to remain calm and aware of your surroundings before helping a pet. Don’t run into traffic after an animal- you can’t help him if you become a victim of an accident yourself! Once you’re closer to the pet, observe it for signs of disease (rabies) or aggression and fear to make an informed choice.
2. Understand the risks and responsibility.
being bitten by an animal is painful, no matter the size. Worse, if a dog without a known vaccination record bites you, you will have to go through painful rabies treatment. Once you start helping a dog, it’s yours until you find its home, or a new one. Veterinary care can be costly, and dropping the dog off at Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS) can be a death sentence. More on what to do below.
3. Approach carefully
If the animal is friendly, you are safe to look for its information on its collar. But remember to approach the animal in a calm, reassuring manner. Treats are always a good way to get close to a hungry pet, and remember to have a leash handy. Slip leads are the easiest for this.
Finding a Lost Pet’s Owner: It Can Be Done
We always hope that dogs and cats have proper identification and a microchip, because it usually makes reuniting them with their family much easier! Call the number on the collar and make sure you can confirm that whomever answers is indeed the owner. No collar? Take it to your nearest veterinarian to get it scanned for a microchip. Most veterinarians will do this free of charge. If the pet has a microchip, and you get in contact with the owner, you and the dog or cat are lucky!
No Microchip or Collar with ID?
Unfortunately, we hear more often than not that a pet has gotten loose of its collar and that it has no microchip (we’re advocates of microchipping pets; losing a collar is all too easy and creates major and preventable headaches). At this point, the dog or cat is your responsibility and we would urge you to put yourself in that pet owner’s shoes. How would you like your pet treated in a similar situation? That being said, keep these tips in mind:
- If you have it on a leash, perhaps look for someone who lives in the neighborhood and ask if they recognize the dog.
- Call veterinarians in the area you found the pup- sometimes they might recognize it or know the owner is looking
- Take photographs and add the pet to Finding Rover, a free mobile app that helps owners who use the app to find their pets
- Network the dog or cat on social media or sites like Nextdoor. It is so helpful and spreads like wildfire. Post photos to lost pet forums on Facebook (we’ve included several links)
- Post found posters with photos of the pet in the exact spot you found the dog or cat, and in the area
- Look for lost pet ads in the area or online; check back often as owners might have been on vacation and therefore not able to post
- Put an ad out in the Miami Herald Pet Classified sections; it’s free
- Take it home. If you have pets, be sure to keep them away until you know whether or not the animal is sick, fearful, or aggressive
Remember, when you do find the owner, to be sure that they can prove ownership. Ask open-ended questions, such as “describe your dog’s unique features,” instead of answering questions about description.
Take Lost Pets Home:
Why take the dog or cat home? We urge you to take the pet home with you if at all possible, or to find a friend willing to foster it while you find its owner, over taking it to Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS). If you can’t bring it home or pay for boarding at a vet, you can call a variety of rescues. They are usually at full capacity, but it’s worth a try and preferable to taking the pet to MDAS, where the pet has an uncertain future. By law, stray dogs over 6 months will be held for a mere three days. The staff then places the pet up for adoption if they judge it to be healthy and not aggressive. In cases where the dog isn’t eligible for adoption, no rescue group takes it, the dog may be euthanized because of ill health, temperament, or lack of space. This is taken directly from the MDAS website, so please heed our warnings.
Posting a Found Pet in Miami:
We’ve compiled a short list of resources for sharing the pet you’ve found online. Please post on every Facebook group regarding lost pets in Miami, and remember to keep your Facebook post about the pet set to public so everyone can share!
- Lost Dogs of Broward and Dade County
- Lost and Found Pets of SE Florida – Broward, Dade & Palm Beach County
- Pets Lost and Found of South Florida Network
- The Shelter Project
A founding member of the Equipaws family, Frankie can mostly be found working behind the scenes, helping co-create online branding, managing several social media accounts, designing brand collateral, writing copy, and managing events. She also fills in for pet sitters and dog walkers when needed in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and South Miami. Her own small pack consists of Boots the Shih Tzu mix and Nutmeg the Chiweenie.