You’ve found an animal that is wandering the the streets. What should you do?

So you’ve found a stray animal in your neighborhood or roaming the streets. What do you do now?
Much Love Animal Rescue receives dozens of calls and e-mails a day from people who are hoping we can take in a stray animal or unwanted pet. But sadly, because we do not have a permanent facility and our funds are earmarked for animals already in our care, we cannot take in animals from the public. But we can help by giving you advice on the most effective ways for you to help find the animal a home.

the first step: determine if the animal has an owner

According to the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, it is estimated that 26,000 to 44,0000 stray dogs roam the streets of Los Angeles at any time.

First, check the animal for tags and if it has them, contact the owner immediately. If there are no tags, legally you must take the animal to the shelter nearest the location where the animal was found. (Call 888-452-7381 to find the shelter nearest you or go to
Animal shelters are the first place and owner will look for a missing dog or cat and legally you must take the animal to a shelter for the minimum holding period of five days, or you must try to find the owner on your own with ads, flyers, etc. Many people don’t want to take the animal to the shelter in fear the dog will be automatically euthanized. While it is a fact that Los Angeles has a high euthanization rate, this is the place where many pets and their owners are reunited. Even if the animal does not have tags, it may have escaped from a yard and if it is microchipped, it’s owner could be determined when the shelter scans the animal for the chip.
If you want to keep tabs on the animal, get the impound number from the shelter and track it through the shelter system to determine when the animal will be available for adoption which should be five working days from the day you turn it in if the owner doesn’t show up. You can also place “First Rights” on the animal so that you can adopt it when it does come up for adoption if you show up between 8:00 am to 9:00 am on the first day it is available for adoption. Remember to check out the shelters where logs are kept of owners looking lost dog or cats and see if any of the descriptions matches your animal’s.
If you decide against taking the animal to the shelter, many veterinarian’s offices can also scan the animal for a microchip. If no microchip is found, you must place ads in local newspapers and place “Found” flyers in the are where the animal was roaming. When placing an ad be vague in your description, note the area the animal was found in and your telephone number. This is to ensure that the people calling are truly the animal’s owner. Make sure they can give a description of the animal and ask for the animal’s name to see how it reacts when called. If so far so good, ask to see proof of ownership in veterinary records, dog licenses or a photo of the animal. Most newspapers will place “Found” ads free of charge.

step two: finding the animal a new home

If you have gone through the steps above, and no owner has been found, you can adopt it yourself, try finding it a home yourself or you can take the animal to a local shelter.
If you decide to try and find a home for the pet, you will need to assess whether the animal is a good candidate for adoption by determing it’s traits.
Is it a friendly animal or aggressive toward people or other animals?
Will the animal need extensive training by a professional or will it make a good pet for a first time owner?
You will also need to determine if the animal is in need of medical attention and if it has been spayed or neutered.
You will find the most success when the animal’s face is seen in many places. Facebook has many lost and found pet pages where you can post. You can place ads in newspapers, on local websites such as and place flyers in animal-friendly places of interest. When making up flyers, we recommend coming up with a story that describes the way and location the animal was found, it’s temperament, health condition, a great photo and your contact information. Suggested places to post the flyers include dog parks, pet supply stores, vet offices, local businesses like juice bars and coffee shops, and perhaps at your workplace.
If you contact us, Much Love will place a photo and description of your animal as a courtesy on and We also recommend contacting many other animal rescue groups. They might post you to their sites as well and allow your animal to be courtesy showings at their adoption sites.

courtesy listings –

We are pleased to help others who are doing their best to help these loving creatures. We are happy to place an animal in need of a home on and – the nation’s largest resources for pet adoptions. Animals can only be placed on these sites by animal rescue organizations, but we can have the interested party contact you directly. Below are guidelines and suggestions for you to help find your animal a safe and happy home and a successful adoption.

We have a few requirements in order to add them:

  • E-mail a short bio on the dog or cat. Please include age, sex, breed as well as any endearing information that you may have. Also include up to three photos in jpg format.
  • In order to add them to the websites, we require that the animals are neutered/spayed, vaccinated, and microchipped before they are listed and go to their new home.
  • Many ask about the purpose of microchipping. A microchip is a chip the size of a piece of rice that is inserted under the muscle tissue in between the shoulder blades. This device contains the owners name and phone number. If the dog or cat should happen to get lost, vets offices and all shelters and pounds have a scanner that they use to read the information and notify the owner. By law, stray dogs and cats who do not have a microchip can be euthanized after 5 days.  This is a wonderfully inexpensive (@$30) safety device that every animal should have.
As a courtesy, here are some guidelines that we at Much Love use when adopting out our animals that you may find helpful.  We recommend:
  • That you do a homecheck to assure that the dog or cat is going to an animal friendly home.
  • Our cats are adopted out to indoor only homes. The life expectancy for a cat is significantly longer if it is indoors and free from the threat of cars, coyotes, Feline Leukemia and the equivalent of the feline AIDS virus.
  • Charge a nominal adoption fee – $50 or more. This assures that the person has extra funds so that if the dog or cat gets sick or needs veterinary care, they can provide it.

step three: determining if a home is suitable

Now you’ve found someone who wants your pet, how do you decide if they are right for the animal?  Check out our dog and cat applications to get ideas on what are good questions to ask.

12 comments on “You’ve found an animal that is wandering the the streets. What should you do?

  • Anonymous says:

    no help with calling this number a kitten is lost or abandon near a work site i cant get ahold of no pet control to take this kitten

  • Frederick Drury says:

    DO NOT leave your pet or even a lost animal at any city animal shelter unless you wish to take away all hope from the poor thing. City animal shelters are extermination centers that very seldom find homes for lost pets. Very rarely is a pet reunited with an owner at one of these facilities. I had a perfectly good pet get lost in the same system and was euthanized by gas. Any animal is better off getting run over than wasting away in one of these misery centers.

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  • If you see a dog wandering grab it and stop look and listen for someone chasing yelling stop. Stop and try find the owner make posters and put it where dog was found. Don’t call animal shelter bec they will charge for everyday there and kill the dog after it had a miserable time there living in a place smelling of dead dog.

  • Found dog. Sunday 1:30 pm. Older chihuahua wearing a green, blue, yellow plaid sweater. Melrose/Highland area. Can’t tell what sex cause it wants to bite me.
    Tongue seems to hang to its right side.
    John 323-630-2955 . Thank you

  • Lucila Lopez says:

    Great information! thanks a lot. My son, 12 year old, is in love with the lost dog but we cannot hold it. How to process the bye moment?

  • Daniel says:

    I e found a pitbull that is being abused that is in horrible conditions it is not being fead and it’s beaten when it doesn’t follow the owners command this dog is currently homeless along with his owner

  • Ty says:

    If you can’t find the owner, and you can give the animal a loving safe home, then keep it. Don’t give it to the shelter. It’ll be tossed in a cage, will be mistreated and eventually euthanized.

  • Nikki jackson says:

    Found a dog nice dog my 11 love the dog but we
    can’t keep him I don’t see any tags on him so I don’t know about his shots try to see if anyone look for the dog but Noone came oh I think he a pit bull and I have two cats that I have to keep in the room please help me

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