Found dog or cat – what to do

File a report with the local shelters. Austin 311 can be done online on the internet or by using the 311 smart phone app. In the drop-down menu, select “FOUND ANIMAL REPORT – KEEP” (which means you are holding the pet temporarily at your house). Austin 311 has a smart phone app that lists Found  animal – keep, Found dog  (confined)- pick up and Loose dog.

Register your pet on NextDoor’s Pet Directory

Consider registering your pet on NextDoor (requires joining that free neighborhood social mediate site); that may help a neighbor identify a found pet as yours.

Maybe a microchip? Scan more than once

Get the dog or cat scanned for a microchip in more than one facility (call ahead if possible to ask if they will give you the chip number – so many chips are not up to date or unregistered and we have resources to help track those but need the number, and some vet offices will not give it out. People who have gone to Petsmart to read a chip have reported that Petsmart does not share the chip information, and if they find a chip, they will call and only leave their phone number, not yours. This may mean waiting for the vet in Petsmart to open if the pet’s owner calls after office hours.

Chips are often missed in a scan and can migrate to tips of ears and feet! If the pet has a collar and tag with a chip number, visit and look it up. A local Austin Lost & Found Pets volunteer with a chip scanner may be available to come to your house; email Erin Childress at to arrange that or even research and possibly help find the family through Lost Dogs of Texas.

Check and post on social media

Post on under “Lost & Found” – include your neighborhood and at least all surrounding ones – dogs and cats do not understand boundaries and can travel miles in a single day.

For cats, check on

For dogs, visit Lost Dogs of Texas FaceBook Page for a Lost Dog report. and
Lost Dogs on Austin Lost & Found Pets FaceBook Page – and make a post for your Found Dog there as well (slightly different format read the guidelines in their “pinned post” before posting).

Put ads on Craigslist in Lost & Found section and in Pets section. Always require proof of ownership.

Create flyers

Create a flyer at (that software generates a flyer that is processed by Lost Dogs of Texas). Print and post paper flyers near the main entrances and exits for your neighborhood and (depending on the size of the dog), the surrounding neighborhoods. Do not tape a flyer to a neighborhood mailbox – it is Federal property and against the law to do so. Instead, attach a flyer to a nearby post or fence – everyone eventually checks their mail and will see it. Be sure to post flyers near the mailbox area at apartment complexes (as well as on a pole near the entrance to apartment complexes).

If you don’t locate the owner soon, email copies of the flyers to local veterinarians and groomers; keep records of the office name and date you contacted them.

Get Proof of Ownership

Either meet the owner at their vet office. (A vet will NOT risk his/her license to falsely verify ownership of a dog) OR obtain the vet name/phone from the presumed owner, and call the vet and ask if that person has a pet that fits that description, then meet them at the vet’s office. If that’s not possible, require the owner to bring vet records and some pictures of themselves with the pet, preferably with themselves and/or their family.

Be cautious about someone copying your photo of the found pet and adding people to make it appear they are the pet’s family. You should know the pet poses you published;  watch for that scam.  The real owner of the pet will be HAPPY you are requesting the above to be sure you get the pet to the right owner. Only scammers will be upset that you are requiring proof of ownership.